By Nadia Ghazali

Compost is a great natural booster to help improve the quality and condition of the soil in your garden and backyard. Not only does compost balance the acidity level and water retaining ability of the soil but it also enhances the vitality of your plants. You can easily find compost being sold at your local gardening shop, however it will be much better to make in your own backyard as it is free, easy to do and good for the environment.

Compostable items: 

Making your own compost is an easy and cheap practice in the long run because most of what you need is already in your kitchen or garden. 

Good Green Items (source of nitrogen)                        Good Brown Items (source of carbon)
       Fruits and vegetables scraps                                                     Brown paper bags
                     Eggshells                                                                                Leaves
          Coffee and tea grounds                                                                     Straw
         Grass and shrub clippings                                                             Pine Needles
                    Seaweed                                                                                    Corn
                     Flowers                                                                                  Drier lint

Compost Bin/Boxes:

  • Plastic bins with ventilation holes or slits;
  • Metal drums with a removable base and ventilation holes on the side;
  • Rotating drum units; or
  • Box made from timber, bricks or chicken wire.

In my backyard, I use a wooden crate lined with wiring (to keep rodents away) that I got from one of the farmers at my local weekend market. If you are not keen on making your own, there are a lot of stores that sell them. 

Creating compost:

  1. Under a shady spot, start your compost pile on exposed earth. This way, you will get help from natural inhabitants of soil to aerate the compost and transport the nutrients to the rest of your garden.
  2. Layer twigs and straws at the bottom of the pile – this will help aerate and drain water from the pile.
  3. Add compostable items in layers, alternating between green and brown materials. The ideal compost should have more carbon than nitrogen. As a rule of thumb, try to get a 1:2 ratio of green and brown materials. 
  4. Moist (not soaked) the compost pile occasionally. Or, if you get rain, let nature do its job.
  5. Cover the pile (I recommend a piece of wood or plastic) to retain moisture and heat. It is also to prevent the compost to be overwatered by the rain.
  6. Rotate the compost weekly with a garden fork to aerate the pile. This process will add oxygen to the pile, which will speed up the composting process.
  7. Your compost is ready when it is brown and crumbly. This will usually take 3-4 months.

As you can see above, composting is an incredibly easy task. Not only will you benefit from better soil but you are helping preserve the earth by keeping household waste off landfills!

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