Homemade compost is invaluable in the garden By adding organic matter to the soil, compost can help improve plant growth and health. To make good compost, you need a 50:50 mix of materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from lush green material such as grass clippings whereas Carbon comes from brown material, such as woody stems and cardboard. For every bucket load of green material, you need to add the same volume of brown. Shredding, chopping or mowing these materials into smaller pieces will help speed the composting process by increasing the surface area. Things You’ll Need to make your own compost are: A sunny corner of the garden An equal mix of nitrogen- and carbon-rich waste And a Compost bin Stand your compost bin directly on the soil, worms and other micro-organisms will speed up the composting process. Find out which compost-bin is best for you. Chicken wire at the base will keep rodents out. Add an equal mix of green and brown materials Grass-clippings Annual-weeds Fruit and veg peelings Nettle leaves Teabags Dried-leaves Paper or newspaper Cardboard Straw egg boxes and empty toilet-rolls Paper towels Paper bag Speed up the process by turning your heap occasionally with a garden fork to aerate it, mixing the outside ingredients to the inside. When turning the compost-pile, make sure that materials in the center are brought to the outsides, and that materials from the outside edges are brought to the center. Waiting at least two weeks allows the center of the pile to heat up and promotes maximum bacterial-activity. The average composter turns the pile every 3-4 weeks. Moisture is Also important to support the composting process. Compost should be comparable to the wetness of a wrung-out sponge. If the pile is too dry, materials will decompose very slowly. Add water during dry periods or when adding large amounts of brown organic material. If the pile is too wet, turn the pile and mix the materials. Another option is to add dry, brown organic materials. Bacteria and other microorganisms are the real workers in the compost process. By supplying organic materials, water, and oxygen, the already present bacteria will break-down the plant material into useful compost for the garden. As the bacteria decompose the materials, they release heat, which is concentrated in the center of the pile. You may also add layers of soil or finished compost to supply more bacteria and speed the composting-process. The amount of time needed to produce compost depends on several factors, including the size of the compost-pile, the types of materials, the surface area of the materials, and the number of times the pile is turned. A pile that is between 3-feet cubed and 5 feet cubed can be ready in about 4-months, depending on the time of year.