Along with an army of ravenous slugs and a collection of garish children's toys, a compost heap is something every family garden should have. Tracy Dixon of greenmums.co.uk shows us how it's done...
At home, we've been making do with a heap slumped against a wall, held in by a bit of an old shed. And to be honest it worked. The heap got bigger, then mysteriously shrunk as the wonderful process of decomposition took hold, but managing it was a bit of a nightmare and we couldn't actually dig any compost out of it, slightly defeating the object.
So, after ticking off many other more pressing jobs in the garden, like having barbecues, playing cricket and mowing the lawn, we decided it was time to get stuck in.
From the start, I wanted to spend either no cash or as little as possible. After all, it's only a heap of dead plants, right?
Once the ground was clear we dug three trenches for the walls of the base - our garden slopes by about 30¬∞, so a decent base was important. We mixed some concrete, poured it in, levelled it off roughly and let it set for a week or so.
We then tracked down old bits of concrete blocks and bricks from around the garden and built up the three retaining walls of the base, so that the top of the base was level with the bottom of the boundary wall.
We scoured the garden, shed and garage for old bits of wood and decided to recycle a bit of old shed. We nailed together 2 retaining walls and a dividing wall so that we could have two bays simultaneously on the go. These were screwed to uprights which were fixed to the wall and base with small rightangle brackets.
That was about a month ago and the system seems to be working. We can get access to both bays, adding compost to one and taking it out of the other. At about three month intervals we can dig the compost over to increase decomposition and overall we're very happy. To disguise it, we're going to paint the thing green, add a bit of trellis to one side and grow an evergreen climber up it, like Clematis Armandii.
The humble compost heap is a place to dump hedge clippings, dead leaves, grass cuttings and vegetable based kitchen waste, a great source of bulky, organic soil improver, and is good for the soul! For a quicker way of building a compost heap, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/htbg/module7/making_your_own_compost1.shtml .
Another great link is http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organicgardening/compost_pf.php which is helpful too.
The other option is buy a compost bin, try this link for bins for sale and some more great advice www.recyclenow.com/home_composting
We've used our compost for potting up cuttings, digging into heavy clay soil and to give newly planted specimens a head start in the beds. Green Mums can't recommend composting highly enough, so get out there and see what you can do!
For more green living advice, click here