You can never have too much compost/mulch available in your veg patch, and making your own will save quite a bit of money each year. Now is the time to really get things on the go so please have a read of this little guide and make a start
Getting started with composting:
Start now by using all your grass clippings, old veg plants and foliage, veg that have started to rot, peelings, even weeds. It’s honestly the best time to start now as there is so much coming out of the kitchen garden that can be used. You can expect to start using your home made compost within a year or two, and you’ll find it saves you a lot of money.
- Don’t get too hung up on choosing a composter. Essentially there are two options: buy a compost bin or build your own. Do whichever suits you best and remember that all you need is something that will give you a bit of drainage, keep your compost dry and aired and retain warmth.
- Add whatever you can from the kitchen and garden. Try and get an even mix of things that break down quickly (i.e., wetter things like tea bags, coffee, old plants, veg scraps, manure) and things that break down slowly (drier things like cardboard, straw, twigs). NB. Avoid meat, fish, cooked food and egg shells as these attract rats.
- Chop cardboard, twigs and sticks down before adding them to help them decompose faster and generate more heat.
- Add nettles and comfrey as activators in the compost heap every 4 weeks if you can and they’ll keep the whole process going for you.
- Turn your compost every once in a while to help keep things going. Once every couple of months should do the trick.
Getting started with a leaf mould:
As leaves start to fall it is a great time to get a leaf mould on the go. It’s so easy. All you need to do is create a cage and fill it with leaves. Give it 18 months and you’ll have a fantastic mulch to use, which is perfect for using in the veg patch and will massively help to keep plants from bolting/getting too hot and dry etc.
- Make a cage using 4 posts as a frame with chicken wire at the sides. This will keep the pile of leaves from blowing away.
- Put the cage somewhere outside so that it gets rained on every so often as the water will help it to break down.
- Collect leaves regularly in autumn. Just gather up fallen leaves by raking them up and bunging them into a wheelbarrow before tipping them into the cage until it’s completely full. Remember, the pile will shrink as they start to decompose.
- Leave it for around 12-18 months before using it as a mulch.
- No cage? Use an old compost bag – old compost bags are perfect – just pierce a few holes in them, add a glug of water and leave in a shady spot. Just top up with water sometimes if it becomes too dry.