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Garden Composting - Being Green At Home

Hardly a day goes by without the news reporting some kind of ecological issue - be it problems with the Polar ice caps melting or new initiatives from Central Government to reduce carbon. As with so much of the news, there doesn't appear to be much we can really do to make a difference. Or is there?

Councils estimate that around 35% of our typical home waste which is thrown out with the rubbish, can be recycled. Were going to be brave here by saying the figure could possibly be higher still for those who really want to be. Visiting the bottle bank on a Sunday morning is the norm' for many of us, but how many of us have a compost bin in the garden? How many people have 3 compost bins? Thats the optimum number recommended by ecologists and gardeners alike.

Before we go into too much detail as to why you need 3 compost bins, lets start with why you need one. Any waste which is sent to landfill which rots down naturally, not only takes longer to rot down when mixed with non biodegradable waste, but also releases toxic gases into the environment which helps to deplete the all important ozone layer, which as we know, in turn warms up the planet, melts ice caps, andwell, you know the rest.

Separating your various waste at home so your biodegradable items are put in your home compost bin also cuts road miles as the local council's who collect your waste, will have much less to take back to their landfills. Just as importantly though is that the output from the waste itself can end up being extremely beneficial for your home garden. If you follow the technique of separating and mixing your biodegradable waste into greens' and browns' (more about these later), the waste can be turned into good, organic, usable compost for your garden in approximately 6-9 months or so. By returning the waste to the earth, and growing further fruit and vegetables etc in that earth, youre not only supplying the said fruit and vegetables with all important nutrients, but in the soils that lie to the South of London, youll allowing air to enter the heavily compacted clay soils, thus making the ground more fertile for your choice of vegetation. Oh, and of course, this is all free.

The obvious question is why does waste that is rotted I compost bins not emit the same gases as waste in landfill? The answer is that not only does properly composted material rot down quicker, but when added to the garden, it traps in carbon. What this means is that the carbon is buried, which is the reason why so many real environmentalists even go so far as to try to put gardeners off of digging their plots, due to the micro amounts of carbon that are lost into the atmosphere each time we do.

We mentioned greens and browns. Experts suggest mixing our biodegradable compost waste in an even mixture of brown and green. Green waste is basically vegetable peelings, grass cuttings etc or wet stuff whilst browns are things like cereal boxes which have been torn up, the contents of the vacuum cleaner, toilet roll inners and even shredded paper (great way to also protect your identity from being cloned shred your personal and junk mail!) Heavier twiggy type cuttings can be chopped into small chunks, or put through a shredder if you have one.

The reason for suggesting 3 compost bins is because as one is being fed and is filling up, the others can be rotting down. Ideally, youll want to turn the contents of your compost bin as regularly as possible (there are compost bins available that are mounted on frames allowing the bin to easily be turned over by hand using a handle). By constantly adding new waste, theyll be little chance of all the waste ever having the chance to rot down.

All the experts say that two main ingredients are required to rot down compost efficiently and quickly water and heat. If you are able, position your compost bins where theyll see at least some of the afternoon sunshine. If the bins have slats, air will penetrate and the compost will dry out and wont rot down properly, so add regular watering cans of rain water from your water butt. Dont be surprised if you compost heap sweats. In fact, if it does, the composting process is actually in evidence.

Compost bins themselves dont have to be expensive and dont have to look like a Dalek either. Compost bins made to look like beehives and made from recycled pallets are readily available on the Internet and actually add a neat feature to the Country garden. Some local councils offer special deals on the sale of compost bins, it ultimately saves them money so take a look at your local council website. And of course, you can build your own. Pallets are the material most commonly used for this, but any large container with good access to add, turn and remove compost - ideally with no air gaps, will do.

There are even rumours that in time, well all be charged for the amount of waste we have the councils collect from our driveways. Therefore reducing the amount we throw away also reduces the bill from the council if this ever is introduced.

In future articles we will explain how to effectively use home made organic compost on your garden which should in turn help you to produce some of the best organic fruit, flowers and vegetables youve ever grown.

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