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In addition, choose a site which suits your climate. Warmth and moisture helps composting process so place your composter in a place which receives a fair amount of sunlight and shelter from wind if you live in a cooler climate and if in a hotter climate, ensure you give it shade to prevent it drying out.
What Materials Can You Compost?
Pretty much all your organic household and garden waste is an elligible candidate for composting although there are a few exceptions. Things to particularly avoid are meat, fish, bones, fats and oils, dairy products like milk and cheese, dog and cat droppings as these can attract animals, create foul smells as they degrade and carry nasty diseases. Also, whilst weeds and plants can be added, it is advised to dry out persisent weeds and remove seed heads before adding these. Ashes are also best avoided, as are glossy magazines although shredded paper and cardboard are fine to add. Feel free to add waste fruit and vegetables, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds (worms love them!) and tea bags, hair, leaves, grass clippings and other organic waste. As a general rule, if in doubt, leave it out but most organic waste will rot down just fine and if you shred it or cut it up smaller, it will compost faster.
How Long Before It Becomes Compost?
This depends on balance of materials in your compost heap, weather and amount of time you can devote to project. If you want to take an active managed approach to your composting then you can have afully composted pile in 3 months but if your only desire is to dispose of kitchen and garden waste in a more 'green' manner then it can take 6 months to a year or longer.
Managed composting can produce a 'hot rot' with very fast results but it does require additional effort on your behalf to keep it going. A managed, hot compost heap with an excellent balance of materials can reach temperatures of 70 degree celsius but requires regular turning and nurturing with careful layering and balance of browns and greens in mix, shredding materials and maintaining a good moisture level.
An unmanaged cool heap is however much easier to maintain and rots down at up to 30 degrees celsius with little input from you. Just throwing your waste on heap will give you a cooler heap which will rot down more slowly but is fine for green waste disposal purposes.
There are ways to increase rate of composting process in both cases by, for example, adding composting worms, or by using an activator which help speed up process. The addition of a handful or soil now and then or horse manure will also add micro-organisms to speed up composting process free of charge.
For The Best Compost...
...use a wide variety of different materials. The more varied materials you add to compost pile, nutrient rich your final compost will be. Compost made from kitchen and garden waste is best food for your plants and at same time you are helping environment and saving yourself and your local government money into bargain.
Mark Falco runs the British gardening shopping guide found at http://www.ukgardeningsupplies.co.uk where you can find low prices on composters and composting equipment as well as other garden tools, furniture and accessories.