One of the main things that stops people from composting is the mistaken belief that it’s the preserve of experts or keen gardeners, according to research by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).
Fear of getting it wrong, especially when faced with information overload and conflicting advice, holds people back.
One of the ‘rules’ that many people ask about is the Browns/Greens balance. This is a basic guide to help people remember the balance needed between carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials to keep composting microbes happy.
Composting creatures have basic requirements for food just like the rest of us. If the ratio is wrong the composting creatures won’t be as happy and won’t decompose the organic material as fast but it will still happen. Nobody is going to come round giving your finished compost marks out of 10 (unless that’s the way you roll) and it’s unlikely you’ll get a mob of angry worms waving placards at your door. (If you do, be sure to upload the footage on YouTube.)
The Browns/Greens guide can be useful because it’s easier to remember that twigs are Browns and grass mowings are Greens rather than that twigs provide carbon and fresh grass provides nitrogen.
Everything breaks down eventually, even an untended heap in the garden. The main reason people want to get the balance right is to produce usable compost quickly and to avoid a smelly mess. Keep in mind that the right moisture level for composting is like a squeezed damp bath sponge, so that if a handful of compost is squeezed it should produce just one or two drops of liquid. This balance is best achieved through a 50:50 mix of dry carbon-rich Brown materials and wetter nitrogen-rich Greens.
What’s the problem?
Your composter will tell you if the balance isn’t quite right. For instance, if you encounter the following:
Smells – the problem is usually lack of aeration. Remedy this by stirring and adding shredded newspaper.
Ants – the problem is too much dry content. Remedy by watering gently with a small watering can and mixing in well.
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