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Coarse ingredients include straw, egg shells,
shrub trimmings, larger weeds.
Don't use meat or fat, too much wood ash, sawdust or weeds in seed on the compost heap.
Building the Layers of the Compost Heap
Start with a layer, about 5cm (2inches) deep, of grass cuttings , then a layer of activator (manure, bone meal etc) then some coarser material such as kitchen waste or larger weeds, the finish with coarser material such as shrub cuttings or straw. Don't worry too much about the sequence, the key is to alternate between finer materials, the activator and the coarser material.
Don't position the compost heap too near trees or shrubs, the roots of these plants may surface and grow into the compost heap. It is best however to put a layer of soil at the base of the compost heap and ensure its level.
When the Compost is Ready
In an ideal world, your compost will be ready about three months after the heap has been completed. The compost material will be crumbly and brown, damp but not wet.
In a typical compost heap however, the quality may be variable with some parts only half rotted. The probable reason is that your compost heap is too small. The solution is to use the good parts of the compost heap and use the rest to start of the next heap. Don't dig only partially composted material into your soil. If you do this, the texture of the soil will be improved, but as the material rots within the soil, it will suck up all the nutrients. If you must use partially composted material in the garden, use it as a mulch on the soil surface.
Digging the compost into plant/vegetable beds is the
best use of compost, because this will improve the soil texture and
provide a long-lasting supply of slow release nutrients. An alternative
is to use the compost as a mulch.
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