Garden compost can help create good soil in your beds, borders and containers. Good soil is full of worms and helpful micro-organisms that work in the garden compost you add to beds and borders, warming the soil as they work to create slow-release plant nutrients and humus.

Add garden compost to improve the texture of soil so that it holds the right amount of air and water and plants can reach the nutrients in it.

Why make your own garden compost?

  • It’s a cheap and easy source of the organic matter that makes good soil good.
  • It’s a simple way to dispose of garden and kitchen waste.
  • It’s very satisfying!

Why now?
All the clearing, cutting and clipping to tidy up (you read our blog on this!) for winter produces a mass of garden waste. If you use a green bin it will be overflowing. A garden compost heap is the answer!

garden compost

Garden waste decomposes in purpose made or DIY containers to create compost that boosts your garden.

How to make garden compost

    • Buy or make a compost container and put it where it is easy to put things into it and easy to take the finished compost out of it. A site in the middle of your veg patch is good: it is easy to add materials and take compost out and the open site will not attract rodents.
    • Either use a purpose made base with air holes in it or create a base from chicken wire (this is important to deter rodents: read on) and a layer of twigs about 8cm (3 inches) high to form a base.
    • Add a layer of good soil or ready made compost on the base.
    • Add layers of garden and kitchen waste, with not too much of one thing added at a time.
    • ‘Turn’ the compost every month or so by digging into and mixing it with a fork, or tipping it out and putting it back in again. Some purpose made containers are set on a stand that allows you to turn and roll the container and all within it.
    • Speed it up with an accelerator: layers of nettle (without seed heads) or comfrey leaves or a commercial accelerator such as ‘garotta’.
garden compost

The National Trust and the Snowdonia Society are raising awareness of the value of urine as an accelerator - this might not be something to try at home?

  • Once you reach the top of the container, add a layer of good soil about 15cm (6 inches) deep and cover the heap.
  • Leave the heap until it doesn’t feel warmer than the air around it and, when you dig into it, the ingredients are crumbly and feel and smell earthy.

Ingredients for good garden compost

  • Mostly brown (carbon-rich) material such as small, coarse (but not woody) twigs and prunings, scrunched up newspaper, torn up cardboard, dry leaves, corn cobs
  • Mostly fresh green (nitrogen-rich) material such as grass cuttings, soft weeds, vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea leaves and bags
  • Some water: if the ingredients are very dry or the heap looks and feels dry, add water to make it about as damp as a damp sponge: don’t drown it
  • Air: coming up from the base and when you mix or turn the heap.

Avoid garden compost problems

  • Mix grass cuttings and leaves with brown material, either as you fill the heap or in alternate layers.
  • Turn your heap every month or so to let air in.
  • Mix kitchen waste with brown material to deter fruit flies.
  • NEVER put bread, meat, dairy products or fat in your heap. It won't rot and will attract rodents.
  • Deter rodents with a solid sided container, a rat proof base and putting kitchen in the brown or green bins collected by local authorities.
garden compost

Plant a patch of wild comfrey in your garden (it's great ground cover and bees love the flowers) to provide a ready supply of leaves for your compost heap. A less invasive variety may suit smaller gardens: try the 'Bocking 14' variety.