Home Composting and Growing Vegetables: A Case Study

When Carys Jones started her own home composting project, the initial incentive was pure laziness.

That was six years ago and Carys, the manager of an electrical shop, and husband Mike, a design engineer, had just moved into a new home in Aylesbury, Bucks.

While the new home was lovely, it had a “very uninspiring garden”, which the couple decided to landscape. But doing that proved harder than they thought.

“When we dug it all out there was an awful lot of waste and clay soil, and by the end of the summer I didn’t know what to do with it all,” says Carys, who’s now 31.

“When you move there is also a lot of household rubbish, and we were concerned there was too much to deal with properly. As I’m quite lazy it seemed too much hassle to fill up black bin bags, put them in the car and drive them to the tip, when I could just put almost everything into a compost bin and forget about it.”

Bin it

With the compost bin in place, Carys decided to buy a couple of books to see what she could put into it. Soon she and Mike began buying some plants in pots to make use of the compost, and when they were given a few potted herbs they decided to take thing a bit further.

“As we cook everything ourselves from scratch, when we got a garden centre voucher for our wedding we decided to buy a book about growing crops in pots.

“One winter I just sat down and thought, oooh, we can grow this, we can grow that, we can grow this.

“By the time I bought the seeds and started planting, 80 percent of our garden was covered by plants in pots!”

Growing Their Own

Last summer the couple grew their own tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, carrots, courgettes, onion, spring onions, potatoes, about “a million different types of lettuce,” and lots of herbs including basil, marjoram, and parsley, as well as raspberries and strawberries.

Not only is it a lot more convenient to cook when you always have home-grown veggies on hand, but it also saves money, Carys says.

“We eat a lot of pasta dishes and other Italian dishes, and in the summer especially you don’t really need to buy an awful lot,” she says.

“In the winter you can just buy a joint of meat and use vegetables that you have, it makes it easier to make a decision of what to cook as well.

“It’s also better for the environment, we recycle everything we have now, and very little rubbish goes out of the house.”

Investing in a Wormery

Recently, Carys invested in a wormery to make even more use of composting – and keep her vegetables even healthier. “We put more of our kitchen waste into that, the worms digest it, and you get very fine and very good quality compost from that,” she says.

“You can put in basically anything in the way of vegetables, teabags, eggshells, coffee grinds, even shredded newspaper, and it keeps them going. And if there is any liquid left, you can drain it off and use it as a diluted feed on anything else.”

As a result, she says her produce is a lot tastier than that bought in the shop. “The basil and rocket we have tastes completely different. When we have anyone round we go, just try this and that.

“The rocket is punchy and peppery, the basil is fresh and really smells nice, with instant flavour. And our tomatoes are fantastic.”

Bigger is Better

Recently the couple moved to a bigger house – with a bigger garden.

“We have doubled the size we had, so doing the garden up will be a huge undertaking,” says Carys, looking forward to the project.

“But my husband is happy that we will actually have some lawn this year!”