Composting is such a vital part of gardening, especially growing you own food. Whilst ornamental plants don’t take a huge amount from the soil, the same can’t be said for fruit and vegetables. Not only does it make sense for us to be giving back to the soil, but also to reduce our waste. Composting at home can reduce your household waste by up to 30%.
My parents have brought me up with composting since a young age, so it has become ingrained into daily life. Its something I have taken with me when I moved out from my childhood home and it is a big aspect at the lottie. Garantia asked me to try out their new Thermo Wood Composting bin and discuss the benefits of composting as part of launching their new product.
As well as composting at home, the lottie and especially the girls, have been a big contributor to the compost heap. Because of the increase in material from working a 450sqm plot and having the girls on my plot, I needed something big enough to take on the task. Over the years I have tried lots of methods, each with different successes.
The easiest, I thought, would be one made from pallets. It worked okay in terms of composting but it also encouraged unwanted visitors. Because of the amount of available food on the allotment site, and the girls, rats became a problem pretty quickly. Because the composting heap is open, it gave the rats the perfect opportunity to set up home inside. In truth, it was a nightmare. It also dried out during the summer and got drenched in the winter as it was open.
Thankfully I won’t have that issue with Garantia Thermo Wood Composter, as not only is it enclosed, but it also has a grating accessory which prevents rodents from having easy access. Yet it still lets in moisture and worms from the ground below. My other intention for using a wooden pallet compost heap, was to reduce my use of plastic. However, the Thermo Wood Composter is made entirely from recycled plastic, which makes me so happy. Not only is it made with recycled materials, but it’s made in Germany, meaning is hasn’t been uneconomically shipped in from Asia.
When I received the Thermo Wood Composter, I was really impressed with its sturdy walls, unlike some cheap flimsy ones I have experienced in the past. Perfect for me as I am pretty heavy handed and easily break things. Its wood effect panels in the dark grey go perfectly with my garden décor and something I won’t be hiding in the bushes. Unlike most composters on the market, because let’s face it, the traditional standard ones are pretty damn ugly!
It was super easy to construct and only took a few minutes. Everything clicks together with a satisfying “click”. No tools required and I even managed it with one hand while I filmed and photographed the process with the other!
Next, I had to decide where to position it. You ideally need it to get sunlight for some of the day. Full sun means the contents might dry out too quickly, yet full shade means it won’t create enough heat to break all the organic material down. I positioned mine at the edge of my plot, out the way and in the cover of a hedge line. This spot gets shade in the early morning and late afternoon, so it’s perfect. The positioning will depend on what type of composting method you are using. The great thing about buying an enclosed composter like the Thermo Wood Composter, is that it is totally enclosed meaning you can control the moisture levels with ease. No drying out and no rain flooding the composter.
I began by lining the bottom with a few layers of ripped cardboard and twigs I had been saving. The cardboard will trap all the moisture and keep the contents damp which is the perfect condition for the worms, insects and microorganisms to help decompose the material. Whilst the twigs will give some aeration and drainage. Lots of people ask what I do and do not put into the compost heap so here is a list.
Vegetable and fruit scraps including citrus peelings
Contents of the hoover
Vegetation from the allotment
Cardboard like toilet roll tubes
Animal bedding like straw, hay, wood shaving and wood-based cat litter
Broken egg shells
Used compost from pots
Annual weeds that have not yet flowered
Large woody plants
Perennial weed roots and flowers
I’m sure there’s more to add on the list so please do share what you put in the compost bin in the comments below. You want to add a nice mix of what gardeners call brown and green waste. Green waste is things like vegetable scraps and grass cuttings, where as brown is cardboard and straw materials. The mix of both will give a healthy environment for all the good microorganisms to thrive. Its best to chop any matter down into as smaller pieces as you can. Ideally you want to layer the material gradually over a long period of time.
Just as you think your compost bin is full, you’ll find within a few weeks, the material has sunk back down. Its best to give your compost heap a turn every now and again. I use a hay fork which is perfect for lifting the material high and getting some extra aeration into it. The doors on the Thermo Wood Composter give a wide opening to give you access for adding organic material and too turn with a fork.
If you’re new to composting, don’t be scared! Enjoy the process and you’ll learn lots along the way! At the end you’ll be rewarded with rich compost that will feed your fruit and veggies all the nutrients they need! All for free too!