It’s Guy Fawkes’ night again and I can almost smell the bonfires. I’m not a big fan of fireworks as they frighten our chickens, but there’s something satisfying about a good bonfire this time of year. We didn’t used to have fireworks displays in our back garden when I was a kid – think my mum thought the cat wouldn’t be impressed – but I remember helping to heap together branches and other debris to build them at a neighbour’s house.
However, I have a different kind of heap on my mind today – no, not my hairdo or the pile of washing in the corner, but our compost heap. Well, to avoid insulting DJ, it’s less of a heap and more of a stylish compartment of three boxes built by him. It’s my turn to turn it, you see. Worse luck…but I could certainly do with the exercise…
Not for profit group WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has started a campaign this week – called Recycle Now Compost at Home – to try to get more of us composting. According to their figures, only a third of the UK population actually do so, despite 95 per cent having access to an outside space. In a survey WRAP conducted, people said they felt they didn’t have enough room in their gardens to compost or that they didn’t have the time. English households currently throw away 4 million tonnes of waste each year that could have been composted. WRAP reckons that around 25 per cent of this waste – or 200kg per household – could have been composted at home but will wind up in landfill sites.
Composting isn’t difficult (I’m a moron and if I can do it, anybody can do it) – and really it takes the same amount of time to put something in a compost bin as it does to put it in a rubbish bin. It’s just getting into the habit. DJ and I keep a small bucket in the kitchen and throw vegetable scraps and teabags into it and then, when it fills up, we empty it into the compost bin in the garden. No problem. This year we used our homemade compost in the two new raised beds DJ built – one to grow cut flowers and the other in my plot where I grew courgettes, onions and pumpkins. The pumpkins were monsters – much bigger than the one I grew using a grow bag. Homemade compost is amazing stuff and it’s a great way for gardeners to save a little money too as well as help the planet.
Helpfully WRAP has put together a booklet with tips and suggestions to get more of us composting. They point out that you don’t have to have an ugly heap in your garden – you can have stylish composting bins which come in different shapes and sizes. And if you don’t have much use for compost, a wormery will produce much less. Compost takes around nine months to break down. Green items, such as tea bags, old flowers, veg peelings or old bedding plants, rot quickly and provide the compost with nitrogen and moisture, while ‘browns’ like branches, fallen leaves and cardboard take longer but provide carbon and fibre.
So, the million dollar question is, why aren’t more people composting? I suppose it makes sense to gardeners because they have an obvious use for it. When the old teabags and bits of veg peel have finished breaking down, they’ll be shovelling it out onto their flower or vegetable beds. But just as the suggestion of playing Grand Theft Auto for 8 hours on a computer would send me screaming into the night, gardening isn’t everybody’s idea of fun, and I guess that if you aren’t into it, there isn’t an obvious use for the compost.
But we really need to cut our household waste and keep more stuff out of landfill. I think it would be great if more local authorities encouraged us to keep a composting bin that they could take away and empty, like any other bin. According to WRAP, some councils do already, but it would be great if the practice was more widespread. And just think of all the monster veg we could be growing with it…
Do you compost? Why aren’t more of us doing so? Leave a message and let me know.
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