The benefits of creating your own compost and the advantages it can bring to your garden are well worth the effort. As well as providing your plants with a wonderful rich source of nutrients it is a great way to recycle household waste. Recycling the organic waste of a household into compost allows us to return badly needed organic matter to the soil and in doing so we participate in nature’s cycle, not to mention cutting down on garbage going into burgeoning landfills. But the greatest thing of all is that you will create unsurpassable compost and it will be absolutely free.If you don’t have the space required for a compost heap then there is an alternative in the form of a compost bin. These can be bought as commercially produced bins but can be expensive (and I’ve yet to find somewhere locally that sells them) so here is a step by step guide on how to make your own at a fraction of the price.

I live in rented accomodation that has a small yard so this is a perfect alternative to a heap, and I get to take it with me when I move.

Take a bin/bucket (whatever size is convenient for YOU, I used a 10 gallon) and drill holes all around the base and the sides of the bottom.

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Line the bottom of the bin with dried hay, leaves and/or clippings to a depth of about 1 inch (this provides excellent drainage and organic matter). The leaves were crumbled up after the photo was taken - I just wanted you to see how BIG the leaves are I have to sweep up from my yard - THEY'RE HUGE!!

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Next, layer the same depth of soil.Stand the bin on something to help with drainage and aeration (I used an old drawer I found in the street!)


As you acquire kitchen or garden refuse, toss it right on top and cover with a thin layer of dried material, then a layer of soil, as if creating a lasagna.

When the bucket becomes about half full (about 3-4 weeks) turn ingredients with a garden fork and mix very well. Notice how the material looks, too wet - add more dried material, too dry - cut down on dried material increase soil and/or water lightly.
You want to mix everything up about once a week to keep the microbiotic processes in motion. You'll know that the processes inside are continuing if the side of the bin feels slightly warm to the touch. If it begins to smell, which it really shouldn't I promise, you are either adding too little dried material or too much green, adjust accordingly and remember, the finer the material you put into your compost pile, the sooner it will break down into good rich compost. Regularly turn the contents over with a fork and 3 to 6 months after starting the bin, you will have compost worthy of using in your garden.

Best Things to Add:

Green waste:
Vegetable scraps, fruit peelings and cores
Weeds (before they seed or flower)
Comfrey and Herbs are beneficial as a source of trace elements
Coffee Grounds
Tea Bags
Hair and fur
Animal manure (horse and cow are suitable)
Seaweed
Spent annuals from the garden, hanging baskets and containers

Brown waste:
Shredded paper, newspapers and un-coated cardboard.
Lawn Clippings
Dried leaves
Saw dust (untreated wood only)
wood shavings and chips (untreated wood only)
Wood ash
Hay or straw
Peat
Vacuum cleaner dust
Small Twigs and shredded hedge clippings
Crushed sea shells

You can put egg shells in as well (crushed up) but I prefer to put these directly round the base of my seedlings and plants to stop them pesky snails and slugs from eating my lettce/basil/cucumbers etc etc.
They don't like the sharp edges of the crushed egg shells against their soft bodies.