Family and Lifestyle

The secret to a successful compost heap

“My whole life has been waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, an experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had when I had my first compost heap.” Bette Midler (actress and environmental activist)

The easiest way to improve any garden is to have a compost heap or bin. Your soil is constantly being depleted by the elements and by what it gives to the plants. It must be replenished over the year. What you give to your soil, it gives back to you. 

A mulch of homemade garden compost provides food for plants slowly over time, which is the best way. It promotes biological activity in the soil that keeps it healthy and vibrant for plants. It contains billions of beneficial micro-organisms that act as a microbial workforce in your soil. It improves soil structure, reduces erosion and nutrient leaching. It makes heavy soil workable. 

All this you get for free, from kitchen and garden waste people throw in their bins.

Anything that once lived can live again by being turned into compost. The only thing that restricts what you can put into your compost is the size of your heap or bin. 


An average or small garden won’t produce enough waste to have a big compost heap/bin; therefore it won’t produce enough heat inside it to break down weeds with the seeds on, roots of perennial weeds or large woody prunings. 

Other than that any kitchen or garden waste will compost, given time. 

The secret is not to put too much of the same thing in at the same time. Mix it up. If it is dry, wet it but do not have it sodden. Have your heap/bin in direct contact with the soil, this enables the stripped tiger worms to find their way in and digest the contents fast once it is partly decomposed.

Have a container beside your kitchen sink to collect food waste. This can be any food, peelings or scraps. If some of your food came in a box, frozen food for example, rip this into pieces and mix with the leftovers. To keep your ingredients balanced, mix dry with wet. 

Paper and cardboard can be torn up and mixed with lawn clippings. You can even add in the contents of your vacuum cleaner. 

If you have a pet rabbit or hamster, even a pet bird, you can add the contents of their cage when you clean it.

There is nothing to it. All you do is keep adding to the compost, mix it up, and keep it warm and moist. Small insects and micro-organisms will do the rest. Then in 6-9 months you will have the best addition your garden will ever have.