Dream Gardens: Bin it for some green gold

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The silly thing is, the same people who take car loads of hedge-clippings, lawn mowings and tree prunings to the tip or pay the council to collect them are then buying bags of compost for the garden. Composting your green waste saves you serious cash, besides being good for the environment. As brownie points go (or should that be greenie points?), composting is as good as changing to low-energy light bulbs and carrying your shopping in reusable bags. Unfortunately composting hasn’t caught on in the same way.

Usually it’s the keener gardeners and new fruit and veg growers who make compost; their gardens need lots of well-rotted organic matter and they generate the most waste.

The surprise composters are the parents whose young children learn about the environment at school and encourage their family to have wormeries and compost bins. This is all to the good.

But that leaves a lot of people who feel composting is not for them. Maybe they think it will be an eyesore, that it’s too much trouble or that a compost heap means rats, flies or nasty smells.

The answer to all this is easy: use a bin. Instead of rubbish piled up in an open heap, a compost bin can be tucked away out of sight behind a garage or shed, screened off behind a fence panel, or even at the back of a border where it’s hidden by plants. Unlike heaps which need proper management, you can chuck rubbish into a bin any time you have soft, leafy green waste to get rid of. The bin keeps the contents warm and moist so it rots down readily.

Keep the lid on and you’ll avoid flies or smells and if you stand the bin on a concrete base, a large paving slab or several thicknesses of small mesh wire netting over soil, you’ll keep rodents out.

In three months in summer or six in winter, your compost will be ready to use. You can spread it on the surface of beds and borders as a mulch, dig it into new ground to improve the soil structure or work some in at any time to beef up the soil before planting or sowing.

All sorts of compost bins are available to buy. Where there’s no hiding place, a composter that looks like an old-fashioned beehive makes a stylish addition to the garden. Some councils sell “everyday” bins at a discount or give them away free, so phone yours to inquire. After all, going green can save you a fortune.

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