Book Review: How to Make and Use Compost – The Ultimate Guide by Nicky Scott
Book Review by TGR member Anne Hanrahan
Published by Green Books (2009)
In the past I have attempted to make compost in a somewhat haphazard fashion and I have often been frustrated by the results, so I jumped at the chance to review this book in the hopes that it might improve my output.
Nicky Scott’s book provides a comprehensive guide to many aspects of compost making, from small scale wormeries through to large volume systems such as school compost making enterprises which are capable of processing substantial quantities of food waste. It sets out clearly the basic ingredients for good compost and explains the chemical and biological aspects of the composting process. A broad spectrum of systems are examined in considerable detail, making recommendations according to the scale of the facility required and aspirations of the user. Pros and cons of each system are set out clearly allowing the reader to choose a suitable system based on the space available and anticipated cost. Sketches and photographs are used throughout the book to illustrate equipment, principles and techniques.
Following on from this the author provides an informative chapter on how to use compost, including approaches to “no-dig” and conventional gardening and recipes for compost mixtures to suit specific purposes. A valuable A-Z section provides explanation of terminology. The final chapter includes a valuable set of resources for further information including other books, websites, organisations, and manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and ingredients.
In the current debates on climate change and environmental issues compost tends not to be a headline grabbing subject. However compost making, at any scale, addresses numerous issues such as reduction of waste going to landfill, preservation of important ecosystems by reduction of the use of peat in commercial composts, and conversion of a waste management problem into a valuable, locally generated resource. This book provides a broad spectrum of achievable strategies, including guidance on community composting, and is informed by the author’s wealth of experience.
Armed with improved knowledge and having been inspired by Nicky Scott’s infectious enthusiasm I returned to my allotment last weekend and filled a compost bin with carefully considered layers of ingredients, with the author’s mantra “AirWaterFoodWarmth” foremost in my mind. I have high hopes for the product that will emerge towards the end of summer, and expect that “How to Make and Use Compost” will occupy a space on my bookshelf for years to come.