I have just discovered that this week is a very special week! Compost awareness week! How did I miss that? How did I not anticipate its arrival - warn everyone, send out flyers, give all my friends little compost bins to perch on the side of their sinks......
I truly credit compost with the turnaround in my garden soil. I had never used a bin before, and had heard that they were not so effective, and that the compost could get wet, or dry and difficult to manage etc. etc. Looking back on past gardens, I have had more success with a bin than I ever did with an open compost heap.
Some pointers that I think really help:
1. Leaves. you need leaves, and if you can shred them, so much the better.
2. Air. I try to turn the compost at least once a week, and it doesn't matter if I don't get all the way down to the bottom, as that bottom layer can just sit there maturing, and if the bin starts to get too full, I can empty some out of the bottom, introducing more air and taking out almost completed compost.
3. Using the black gold. This can be turned over onto the ground and within a week or two will have attracted worms and be fully integrated into the soil. Some people say don't plant into it straight away but I find within a week or two it is fine.
4. Grow accelerators. I grow comfrey and lemongrass to add to the compost, and these two plants really get the heat up. If you are near the beach and can pick up seaweed that does the same thing.
5. Plant fish Yes you read that right.....I once read about planting a fish head underneath a tomato bush, and tried it and it worked. Now any time I have fish bones, heads or prawn shells, I just dig a hole and tip it all out. I do this a little away from growing plants, and I must note that I do not have a dog, as I suspect dogs might try to dig them up. I don't compact the soil down too much, thinking to add some air to help the decomposition process.
6. More. Get some more bins and use those for extra compost that you are not using right away so that it can sit and mature. Remember that needs to be stirred up a bit too every now and then. I also have an extra bin for leaves, and they sit there for a year to create leaf mould.
I have thought of worms bins, but they seem very fiddly, and all our waste goes into the compost bin, with a fairly quick turnaround, so I am happy with my little system, really everyone should be composting - it is so easy and so effective!
I wanted to take a photo, but that pesky rain is still about... theres another reason to have compost in a bin, an open compost heap would be drowned by now :)