Autumn is a great time to compost, with all those overgrown bushes, shrubs, plants and wilted flowers providing a rich source of materials for the composter.
If you haven’t taken the composting plunge yet, here are some great reasons to get going right now:
1. Mild weather means it’s easy to get off to a good start. Although you can start composting at any time of year, it’s easier when the external temperature is warmer. You’ll also get into the habit of going out to the composter regularly before the weather gets colder.
2. An abundance of garden clippings will provide you with the woody garden waste necessary for the base layer in the bottom of the Green Johanna when you’re starting out. This layer of 10-20cms of branches and twigs spread evenly across the base provides drainage and structure and helps to keep air in the composter flowing.
3. You can collect all those fallen leaves and store them near the composter, providing a handy stockpile of carbon sources. For best results when composting you need a balance of materials that are rich in nitrogen and in carbon. Nitrogen is provided in your food waste and fresh green leaves/grass clippings. Carbon can be found in woody garden waste (branches, twigs), dead leaves, paper and cardboard waste. People can struggle for carbon sources in winter so if you have a lot of autumn garden waste it’s a good idea to store it for the months ahead. Having a covered container of autumn leaves to hand makes it easy to add a caddy full of leaves alongside a caddy full of food waste. For faster breakdown, shred the leaves first by running them over with a mower.
Composting leaves can also save you money if you would otherwise pay your local council to come to collect them.
4. Starting to compost now means you’ll have compost in the spring when you need it for your garden. It can take 6-8 months to get your first batch of compost from a Green Johanna but after that, depending on conditions, 4-6 months is the norm.
5. With Halloween coming up what better way to dispose of your pumpkin lantern than chopping it up and composting it? Don’t add to the 15 million pumpkins that will go to landfill or incineration. Just remember to remove any candle wax first.
Stop the Halloween horror – compost pumpkins
6. Start composting now and you’ll be an old hand by Christmas, which is a great time to have your own household waste recycling system right in the back garden or allotment. As well as the increase in food waste in December/January you are also likely to have wrapping paper, Christmas cards and cardboard boxes to dispose of. (Remember to take tape and stickers off cardboard and don’t compost cards or wrapping paper that contain glitter, foil, cellophane, ribbon etc.)
With a composter, you will no longer have to worry about where to store excess bags of rubbish while you anxiously await the first post-Christmas bin collection. It’s good to feel in control of your own waste. Leftovers aren’t lying around waiting to be collected, they’re rapidly breaking down in your composter.
Avoid the January pile-up with a composter
7. If you suffer from low mood at this time of year, composting makes an interesting project that can grow into a hobby before you know it. Anyone who composts will tell you it feels good to be nutrient cycling your organic waste and doing something beneficial for the environment. It gives you a reason to get outside adding materials to your composter and aerating the contents. You can be as active as you want as you become more interested in what’s happening in your bin.
Psychologists say that low mood can be improved by trying new activities, particularly outdoors. Composting gives you a reason to take your waste out, aerate it, and keep feeding the composting creatures to make sure they have enough air, moisture and a good balance of materials. You also find yourself thinking ahead to the spring when you’ll reap the rewards – the magical transformation of all that waste into black gold for your garden or allotment.
This comment by ecological gardener Poppy Okotcha in an article in the Sunday Times earlier this year is particularly inspiring: ‘Managing my garden ecologically teaches me so much about how truly sustainable systems work, it has shown me circularity like nothing else, regularly reminds me to slow down, promises me that life will spring up out of the quietness of a seed after the cold darkness of winter and that death and decay provide opportunity for new life (I’m looking at you compost!) and so living in an eternal summer is simply not possible.’
TOP TIP: Remember to site your Green Johanna in an easy to reach place – don’t be fooled by fine weather on the day you set it up. One member of our Great Green Systems team assembled his Green Johanna on a dry sunny day and didn’t realise that placing it at the bottom of a small incline would mean slip-sliding down that muddy incline in wet weather. He ended up moving it to a better, flatter position.