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Nutrient-rich soil is the secret to a successful garden. Starting a compost heap at home is an easy and eco-savvy way to give your garden the boost it needs.

According to landscaper Mary Maurel of Mary Maurel Gardens, one of the aspects of ‘greener’ lifestyle is soil quality. “We need to use products that are not harmful to our soil.” She adds that composting helps soil retain moisture and ensures that it is nutrient rich and filled with microbes.

Organic gold

“Composting is a natural process, whereby organic matter like grass cuttings, leaves and other vegetation decays or breaks down resulting in a product that we call compost,” explains Craig de Necker, managing director of The Friendly Plant.

Take a leaf

Starting a compost heap is a great way to repurpose fruit and veggie off cuts from your kitchen, as well as grass clippings and other greens. Here’s how:

• Step one: Find a level, well-drained area to start your compost heap.
• Step two: Collect organic waste you may have at home including grass clippings, leaves, vegetable waste, newspaper, egg boxes (pulp-based only) and pile it in a heap or place it into a compost bin (available at most garden centres).
• Step three: Keep the composting vegetation damp and regularly turned to speed up the process. Be careful not to add too much water.

Tip: If you have a small townhouse garden, you can use a composting bin or small compost maker to make your own organic matter.

Composting away

“Making compost should be an ongoing process rather than a one-off,” says De Necker. Once used in the garden, compost will continue to decay. So, add organic matter to your garden on a regular basis to provide the plants with the nutrients they need.

Tip: Keep composting materials stored in reserve (or maybe even start a second heap), so that you can make compost on a continuous basis.

Red Alert: Be sure not to add diseased plant matter, plastic, metal, glass, perennial weeds, human or animal waste to your compost mix.

Products to get you started

1. Earth Probiotics Bokashi composting kit. www.yuppiechef.com

2. Kitchen Craft Living Nostalgia steel compost bin. www.yuppiechef.com

3. Yolo tumbling compost maker. www.yolocolours.co.za