Starting My Compost Heap

A couple of weeks ago I discarded my compost bin in favour of a good old fashioned compost heap. After preparing the space I would use for the compost heap I set about adding the first organic waste.

Layering Your Compost Heap

If you want to get good quality home made compost as quickly as possible – we live in the “instant gratification generation” which although not possible when it comes to compost, many gardeners want things to happen as quickly as possible 🙂  – then layering your compost heap correctly when starting it off is essential.

I used grass clippings for the bottom layer – unfortunately at this time of year when our lawns aren’t growing much, the last mow before winter didn’t yield too much grass clippings – in the spring you’d do much better! The nitrogen rich green waste is ideal for creating heat at the bottom of the compost heap which will spread upwards accelerating the composting process through the other layers of decomposing waste.

grass clippings

For the next layer I used beech leaves – in order to speed up their decomposition I shredded them first.

shredded beech leaf layer


If you don’t have a garden waste shredder you can use a strimmer in a dustbin – simply put your leaves into the bin and shred them with your strimmer – take care to use eye protection as bits do fly about when using this method!

beech leaves in bin ready for shredding

Now I had my first two layers consisting of about 30% green waste and 70% brown. The next layer I mixed about a third garden soil (for all the microbes) a third grass clippings and a third shredded beech leaves.

Finally for the top layer I took a wheel barrow full of soggy sycamore leaves. I covered the compost heap with these leaves in the hope they will help to insulate the hot core of the heap during the coming frosts.

I will continue to monitor the compost heap and add to it any more garden waste – fallen leaves and twigs which accumulate over the winter months. I doubt it will need turning but if it does get water logged I will turn it and add some straw. Once spring sets in the compost heap should have sufficiently established itself so that it can break down the plentiful garden waste which will be generated through the growing season.

During the growing season I will have to regularly turn the heap as I will be adding lots of waste.

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