There are thousands of guides to composting, but most of them have one thing in common, they all work. That's because composting is pretty easy, natural products want to rot down, mix them together and keep them moist and they will rot down even quicker. The Eden project sum it up nicely:

This guide is going to be slightly different, it's objective is to take you through how to make 'great' compost, make it fairly quickly, make a lot of it and minimise weed seed survival.

In the end though this is just my way of making compost, if it doesn't suit you just choose one of the other 9,999 guides that suit you better.

What is compost

Quoting from Wikipedia

Compost is a mixture of ingredients used to fertilize and improve the soil. It is commonly prepared by decomposing plant and food waste and recycling organic materials. The resulting mixture is rich in plant nutrients and beneficial organisms, such as worms and fungal mycelium. Compost improves soil fertility in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, urban agriculture, and organic farming. The benefits of compost include providing nutrients to crops as fertilizer, acting as a soil conditioner, increasing the humus or humic acid contents of the soil, and introducing beneficial colonies of microbes that help to suppress pathogens in the soil. It also reduces expenses on commercial chemical fertilizers for recreational gardeners and commercial farmers alike

Uses for compost

Compost can be used in many way's I'm just going to briefly describe them from the perspective of this book and more specifically the way I use it for fruit and vegetable gardening:

To fill containers

I usually use home made compost to fill 3/4 of a container that will be used to grow carrots, potatoes, tomatoes peppers, oca etc. Why only 3/4, because I like to cover the top with compost that I purchase that's known to be 100% weed free. This means much less weeding as few weeds will germinate and growth through a few inches of compost.


Once I've used the container full of compost a couple of times, sometimes just once, I will empty it back into my composting system and re-invigorate it by adding extra green waste, bacteria and fungi.

<aside> 💡 Most commercially available compost will have been sterilised and weed free and therefore suitable for topping my home made compost.


To fill raised beds

In a similar way to filling containers I will use my home made compost to fill raised beds. Here's an example raised bed:


My beds normally rest directly on the existing soil, to allow unrestricted root growth. In a few cases they have a weed barrier, because the ground is infested with marestail.

At the bottom of my beds I will put my richest home made compost, usually made in my worm bins (not covered in this chapter). Then a layer of home made compost, or well rotted horse manure, topped off with a good mulching material, like mushroom compost, leaf mold, wood chips or Strulch

To mix with and enrich/improve existing soil by digging

In traditional gardening, existing soil is improved through the addition of compost, which improves the soil structure, retains water and adds nutrients. This is normally achieved my turning in the compost, while digging.

Double and single digging are the usual techniques and they are covered well on the RHS web site. I don't dig by beds, so I won't provide any guidance on this, except to say it's a well tried and proven technique. I describe the way I manage by soil in the basics section of this book.

To mulch existing soil

I prefer to mulch by soil with compost each year and let nature, roots and worms, gradually incorporate it into the soil as described in the basics section of this book.