There are different methods for making compost, as well as different ingredients to use.

We use (packed in alternating layers in heaps of 1.5m high and wide:

1 dry veld-grass

2 manure

3 compost-stimulating plants: Comfrey, Yarrow, nasturtiums, Elderberry, camomile as well as other green stuff (lawn-mowings, prunings, weeds without seeds, kitchen refuse).

In a town garden it would be more practical to use lawn clippings, mixed with dry leaves, raked from lawn and paving (leave the leaves that fall in flowerbeds and shrubberies to form a natural mulch) and other products of garden-cleaning (but not sick plants; neither weed seeds), layered with kitchen refuse and compost-stimulating plants (e.g. Comfrey, Yarrow, Feverfew, Nasturtiums, Elderberry, Camomile).

The idea of the layers of different materials is that there needs to be a balance between high-carbon materials (like dry grass) and high-nitrogen materials (like manure and comfrey & other green stuff).

It is ideal to have 3 bins (or heaps) and a working area, as well as an area to store composting material until you start a new heap. Each bin should be ± 1.5m wide, deep and high.

You build the layers in the 1st bin. When you turn it, you put it into the 2nd bin, and then start a new heap in the 1st bin again. After a few weeks, you turn bin 2 into bin 3 and bin 1 into bin 2. Eventually, the first lot is ready to use, and you can sift it and use it to feed your plants.

Water regularly as needed.

It must be just a little damp – neither soggy, nor dry.

Add compost-stimulating bacteria

Turn ± every 2-3 weeks

The compost is ready when it smells good (not like manure) and the original material is no longer recognisable. When you pick it up, you can dust it off your hands; they won’t even look or feel dirty.

NB: Though bark chips and wood chips could be used for mulch, it is by definition, not compost. Saw dust definitely is not compost.

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