Recycling with a difference: How to make compost correctly: How valuable humus is made from coffee grounds and leaves

"Every good gardener puts a heap in some corner of his garden," a Berlin comedian almost rightly stated in the 1970s.

Recycling with a difference: How to make compost correctly: How valuable humus is made from coffee grounds and leaves

"Every good gardener puts a heap in some corner of his garden," a Berlin comedian almost rightly stated in the 1970s. What he meant exactly was a compost heap. And it belongs in every well-kept allotment garden - but not in "just any" corner, but more on that later. Properly created compost is the heart of any garden. Admittedly, the heap of organic waste is usually anything but fragrant. But the humus that develops is a blessing for the soil and the vegetables. This is why some call it the "gardener's gold". And the best thing about it: The most important and largest part of the (dirty) work is done by earthworms and many millions of microorganisms.

If you want to create a compost now, you should think of a few important things. The star explains:

Basically, a compost heap is nothing more than a small and inexpensive recycling plant. Soil creatures such as earthworms and compostworms, snails, isopods, various insect larvae and countless microorganisms absorb the waste that is applied, decompose it and excrete it again as highly concentrated nutrients. But just like with people, the working conditions have to be right. And this is where the gardener comes in. Because he has to create the conditions for the hard-working animals to be able to do their job undisturbed and as efficiently as possible.

The success of the practical recycler of organic waste stands and falls with the right location of the compost heap. If the compost is in the blazing sun, it threatens to dry out (exception: thermal composter). The waste rots in a shady place - and the dream of home-grown hummus is shattered. Experts therefore recommend a location in partial shade. If possible behind the gazebo, under the protection of a leafy tree and in such a way that it is easy to reach with a wheelbarrow. But that's not all. In order to really get going, a compost also needs sufficient fresh air. The place of choice should therefore be as sheltered as possible from the wind, but not completely windless. If you want to avoid unnecessary discussions with your neighbors in the garden, you should keep a distance of half a meter to the property line.

Last tip: The compost should never be built on concrete slabs or tiles. This leads to waterlogging and rot.

As so often in life, when composting, the dose makes the poison. In addition, diversity is crucial. Some things have absolutely no place in the compost, others should be mixed in in small doses. Compostable waste is basically divided into "green" and "brown" material. An overview.

That can go on the compost - brown material

That can go on the compost - green material

It shouldn't go in the compost

In the little 1x1 of composting there is another important rule that decides the weal and woe of the compost. In technical jargon one speaks of the so-called C/N ratio, the ratio of the brown carbon-containing starting materials to the green nitrogen-containing materials. A ratio between 15:1 and 20:1 is recommended here. If the proportion of green materials is higher, there is a risk of excessive nutrient losses. On the other hand, if you put the earthworms and microorganisms on a "nitrogen diet" they will stop working sooner or later.

Overall, care should be taken to ensure that the different materials are not just stacked alternately, but are ideally mixed together when they are placed in the compost.

Well, the earthworms and microorganisms cannot turn the compost waste into the valuable humus without human help.

tip 1

Flower and perennial sections, twigs, branches, flowers and the like should always be cut up with secateurs or an electric shredder before they end up in the compost. Not only does the compost overflow more slowly, the material also decomposes faster.

tip 2

Individual components should not be stacked higher than 20 centimeters if possible. This also inhibits the composting process.

tip 3

A compost heap should always be kept moist. If the material can be easily formed into a small ball, there is enough moisture. Otherwise, the compost should be watered with a shower.

tip 4

As a rule, the compost is "semi-ripe" after about three months, meaning that the waste is already half rotted. At this stage the compost should be rearranged in the same container with a compost fork or moved to a second chamber. This way the pile is well aerated. In addition, the volume is significantly reduced. After about seven more months, most of the components are well decomposed.

The safest way to sniff out finished compost is with your nose. Because the dark hummus smells intensely of forest soil. Individual parts that have not yet completely decomposed can be fished out with a compost sieve and put back on the heap. Complete composting takes up to ten months depending on the season, composition and care. Spread on the beds, the humus is best in spring. Properly and completely covered, the "gardener's gold" can also be stored for a long time.


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