Thursday, 27 March 2014

Easy Composting for Beginners

This year ... after removing trees that over shadowed everything ... we're giving over lots more of the back garden to veg.

We're very excited about all the shoots popping up in our fab little greenhouse and can't wait until it's warm enough to plant things out.

The only downside is, we're gardening on horrid, horrid, horrid London clay!!

Shovel loads of compost have helped, but it's going to be a constant battle to keep the soil veg friendly.

And unfortunately, our old compost heap hasn't exactly been what you'd call composting :-(

So we've been doing some simple things to get it moving again.

The first job of "turning" it all over with a fork to mix everything up is an adult only job but after that everything has been 4 year old friendly and it's been a brilliant opportunity to explore ...

  1. How plants break down but lots of man made things don't
  2. How plants use soil to grow
  3. Different types of soil ... what they feel like & which plants like them
  4. The fabulous role the worms, snails, slugs & more who live in the compost heap play in breaking things down 

Composting for Beginners

If you want to start composting & get your kids involved you just need to remember ...

  • Put a mixture of "green" and "brown" stuff on it
  • Quick composting green things include:
    • Nettles ... brilliant if it slows down
    • Grass 
    • Veg scraps ... but don't forget you can regrow some veg from scraps
    • Weeds ... as long as they haven't seeded or got roots they regrow from
  • Slower composting brown things include:
    • Fruit peel ... cut up thick skins into small pieces
    • Old plants
    • Garden cuttings
    • Weed roots left out to dry in sun to kill them off
    • Coffee grains & tea bags
    • Fallen leaves
    • Brown paper bags torn up
    • Shredded carboard e.g. egg boxes and loo rolls
    • Egg shells ... broken up and mixed into middle so don't attract pests
  • Keep green and brown mixed up ... turn it over with a fork whenever you can
  • If you've got the space have a really small wooden heap where you can collect up a mixture of new stuff and turn it all over before adding to the main heap
  • If it gets to dry add in more green stuff and water it
  • If it gets to wet and runny add in more brown stuff
  • DON'T try to compost ...
    • bread, cooked food, meat or dairy as will attract vermin
    • printed paper ... can poison the compost, better recycled
    • cat & dog poop ... will include meat waste

Happy composting ... :-)

A small plastic greenhouse for less than £20 is a fab way to start growing veg even if your garden is tiny.  

Our greenhouse ... which we got from Gardman ... is squeezed on the patio by the kitchen window.

You can Gardman greenhouses from Amazon in the USA UK and B&Q sell a similar one.

Our's is currently full of rapidly growing pea, carrot, spinach, beetroot, lettuce and sunflower shoots ...

P.S. If you enjoyed this post do check out my other gardening with kids posts and subscribe to my monthly play & parenting mailer in which I share simple tips ...


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  1. Great post. I love the rich soil we get out of our compost bin. Happy gardening!

  2. What a great post. I am hoping to do more gardening with Grace this year so will definitely use this post. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  3. I just started a compost pile this week and was happy to read this. Apparently no one ever told me that shredded printed paper wouldn't work. Good to know! Thanks for the tips, Alice!

  4. This is great instructions to have and love that the kids are involved. I need to save this

  5. educational in the garden without being school like is always a nice way to learn =)


  6. Great post and good to get the kids involved, that way they're less likely to just automatically throw fruit peelings in the bin!!

  7. We are spoilt with our lovely flood plain soil down here and plenty of manure to add to this. A lovely list, told you composting would be interesting to me! Thanks for linking up with #CountryKids.

  8. Nice list.We have two compost bins on the go. We're on clay too. I can never produce enough compost, so I use ours in the greenhouse borders. Fabulous soil to add. #CountryKids

  9. we have compost piles and worms, but I leave them to the other half. I will be buying a whole pile of lovely compost in a weeks time and we will have some great fun spreading it round the garden!

  10. Someone once told me that you shouldn't compost onions and orange peel. Is that right? Thanks for sharing with the #pinitparty

  11. These are great tips, thanks for sharing. Mine love gardening and I never thought to do compost with them- we have a pile at the back of the garden but I've never really explained it to them. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. It's so nice to come across simple composting advice. We inherited 3 large bins and have totally failed. I keep adding to it but it's not breaking down fast enough! I even bought the compost accelerator last year, but it hasn't really done it's job. We'll have compost NEXT year...I think.

  13. Great ideas! I need to start composting now that we have a back yard that I can garden in! I'm just stopping by to pin this and let you know that I featured it on my blog today!

  14. Thanks for the thoughtful and informative post! You always have such great ideas. Thanks for sharing your work at Project Inspire{d}!

  15. Great Advice I have a compost heap started and this year I got my first lovely brown , crumbly compost from it :)


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