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The Science of Composting

Recently I built up a ramshackle compost heap / bin out of scraps of wood I found in skips and dumps. Having spent a couple of weeks filling it with kitchen scraps and bits of cardboard, I thought I'd find out what the web has to tell me about composting. If you're thinking of the same thing, let me help you out: don't! Here's Tom's super-quick guide to the science of composting.

1 - You need the correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen - 20 carbon : 1 nitrogren. For those of us without immense gardens, carbon can be leaves, wood chips, paper and cardboard. Nitrogen is grass and kitchen waste.

2 - Keep it moist and aerated. Let some rain in, but not too much. Make sure air can escape from the top and run through it. Turn it occasionally (once a fortnight) to get things moving.

3 - Don't put meat, fatty foods or dairy products on. It makes a nasty smell, takes forever to decompost, and attracts pests.

If you can do all of that, supposedly you get compost within 6 weeks - 2 years. There, wasn't that handy?