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How to Make and Use Compost: The Ultimate Guide Paperback – 11 Feb 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Green Books (11 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900322595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322591
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Clearly written and cross-referenced, this book obviously draws from a wide range of composting experience. I would certainly recommend it.' <BR> --Sue Stickland, gardening writer, author of Back Garden Seed Saving.

Drawing from 40 years of composting experience, Nicky Scott's latest book will inspire confidence in beginners and give new techniques to veteran composters Making things rot is, you would imagine, a job best left to nature. As far as compost is concerned however, there is a big difference between throwing your leftovers on a heap at the bottom of the garden, and producing the kind of high-grade potting mix on sale at your local garden centre. Fortunately, for those of us who have tried unsuccessfully to produce one from the other, Nicky Scott's latest book How to Make and Use Compost tells us exactly how to do just that. Admittedly compost is something which, as Scott joyfully points out happens'. Given the right conditions, anything that lived recently, and quite a few things that were living hundreds of years ago, can be composted,' he writes. The skill, it appears, is in balancing the right ingredients in your compost heap to create the perfect conditions for soil microbes to flourish. Get this right and they'll do all the hard work for you. According to Scott, the secret of healthy compost is a combination of browns' and greens'. The browns (dry leaves, stems and twigs) create air pockets for aerobic digestion, while the greens (sappy materials, grass cuttings, peelings and skins) encourage fungi and bacteria. In this way your compost heap mirrors the natural environment of a woodland floor where the microbes you are trying to attract feel most at home. Scott accepts that composting is certainly a skill which has to be learnt, but he also encourages you to experiment. He provides a step-by-step guide to creating your first compost heap and offers invaluable advice for the beginner on troubleshooting common problems. He points out that matured compost has a variety of end uses, from allotments to flower beds, house-plants and window boxes, and, as well as the satisfaction that comes from making your own, its also likely to save you money. Written with humour and flair, How to Make and Use Compost will either give you confidence as a beginner or improve your technique even if you're a habitual composter. As Scott points out, the concept of composting is really simple: once you really take on board that composting is a living, dynamic, natural process then you stop thinking of your heap as a kind of dustbin and more as the living, breathing entity that it actually is a bit like a pet really!' Equally relevant to domestic gardeners, market gardeners and teachers, the book highlights the growing trend of gardening in schools and evaluates several larger models of compost bin available commercially. Further chapters cover nutrient budgeting, hot-composting, making a wormery and community composting networks. This is the third book Nicky Scott has written on the subject, drawing on nearly forty years of first-hand experience. At this rate he is in danger of becoming recognised as a national composting guru. --Ed Hamer, The Ecologist

From the Back Cover

Composting is easy, fun, saves you money and helps you to grow lovely plants. Whether you live in a flat with a balcony or have a family and garden that generates large amounts of food and green waste, this book shows you how to compost everything that can be composted - at home, work or school, and in spaces big or small. It covers:
- creating the right mix for successful garden compost;
- how to compost your food waste safely;
- the full range of composting systems, from plastic 'daleks' to large-scale units, including prices and suppliers;
- composting with a wormery;
- making liquid feeds and your own seed and potting compost;
- composting in schools, with advice on getting a school scheme started.
How to Make and Use Compost features a comprehensive A-Z guide, which includes what you can and can't compost, concepts and techniques, and common problems and solutions.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andy Mckee on 2 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Aiding carbon sequestration, providing a valuable growing medium and reducing landfill all in one, compost making is the original Black Art and local councils are very keen that more of us should be doing it. But what makes the difference between two hundred litres of dark crumbly goodness and a bin full of smelly old muck? Nicky Scott breaks it down for us.

I'm terrible at making compost - there, I've said it. It's not for want of trying, though. Within my first few years of composting I'd read five books on the subject, and each one left me more confused than the last. Would this book be my salvation?

After a fairly technical and slightly daunting introduction the book settles down into the familiar instructions of how to make good compost. To my surprise, however, the how-to chapter is very short at just six pages which, to be frank, is probably all the space that the guts of this very simple process needs. Other authors have taken half a book to cover the same ground (perhaps that's why it can seem so confusing) but Scott pushes on immediately to discuss types of bins, making leaf mould and composting with worms. There is also a detailed section on how to use your finished compost (an option curiously overlooked in some books), including simple recipes for making up potting mix, cutting mix and seedling compost.

Throughout, Scott takes a refreshing pros-and-cons approach which points out the drawbacks of each option as well as the benefits, and although commercial options are discussed thoroughly the build-it-yourself option is never overlooked. In keeping with Green Books' ethical stance there are also sections on large-scale composting, community composting schemes and composting in schools.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andy Wilson on 1 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
This little nugget of wisdom is to be found in the A to Z section of the book. The author advises that drinks cans 'cannot be composted' and should be 'recycled at your local recycling centre'. Hopefully most readers might have already guessed that. As composting books go, it's far from being the 'ultimate guide' as stated on the cover.

There is quite a long section on the different types of composters, with the emphasis on off-the-shelf ones sold at the local garden centre - especially the plastic type - rather than DIY. Perhaps it would have been useful to know a little bit more about the pros and cons of the different types, why some work well and why others don't. For example,the author doesn't mention that the plastic 'Dalek' type, because its sides are impervious to air and water, often turn nice composting materials into anaerobic mush.

There is quite a good section on worms, and on using compost. The A to Z section that follows is actually better than I expected, in spite of the rather obvious advice about cans (and similar recommendations about glass and plastic). The subsequent chapters deal with larger scale composting systems using commercial composters, and composting in schools.

My biggest gripe is that there is a dearth of detailed information about the actual physical processes involved. What actually happens when materials are composted? You won't find the answer in this book.

I suspect the author thought technical information would frighten people off. I disagree. It is only by understanding the 'whys' that the practising composter can improve their techniques and methods. Instead, there is a warning that large compost heaps can get so hot they can catch fire.
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By m. dosa on 21 April 2014
Format: Paperback
this is a solid overview of composting from your allotment pile to more exotic methods.i,m not sure if the book is for every one as i have seen leaflets giving the same basic info,but for people with access to larger amounts to compost this is worth a weed ooops read
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The ultimate guide indeed! Technical if you want it, explanatory and easy to follow. I've stopped trying to dig up dandelions and docks. I simply remove their leaves and compost them. Buy the book to read why.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. B. Bell on 7 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The tips one gets in this book are very comprehensive and useful; it offers practical advice for the ameuteur and professional gardener alike and is full of encouragement!
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