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Bins, recycling and rubbish

Home-composting

How to home compost to improve your garden and reduce waste.

Composting is a fantastic, inexpensive way to turn your food scraps, peelings and garden waste into a nourishing food source for your plants and vegetables. It's a really simple process that can help perk up any garden big or small, and is also a great way of doing your bit for the environment and diverting waste from landfill.

If you would like to get started and begin composting at home, here are a few tips to get you started:

Buy or build a compost bin

Compost bins can be bought at most garden centres and DIY stores and there are a plethora of online retailers that you can buy plastic or wooden compost bins from.  Similarly an online search will turn up simple and complex ways of making your own compost bin, including re-using scrap materials such as old wooden pallets.

Placing your bin

Ideally place the bin over soil to allow microbes and worms access to the material to aid the composting process. If possible, place it in a sunny area that is sheltered from strong winds as this will help keep the temperature up and promote the composting process.

What to put in your bin

Placing a few shovelfuls of soil at the bottom of your bin will help get the composting process started by introducing the micro-organisms that will break down your food and garden waste into compost. After this, getting the correct mix of material in your bin is also important. Ensure that the material in your compost bin is kept slightly moist, and if you notice it drying out, add a little water. Ideally, the material should be about as moist as a wrung out sponge.

The correct mix of ingredients will help break everything down to compost faster and ensure you get nutrient-rich compost at the end of the process. While this can seem a little confusing, an easy rule of thumb is to get a mix of 50% greens and 50% browns.

  • Greens will break down quickly and keep the compost moist. They will also provide nitrogen which is an important building block of your new compost.
  • Browns break down more slowly, providing a source of carbon which acts as fuel for the microorganisms that turn the material into compost.

Below is a table showing some common materials you can (and cannot) put into your compost bin to get started:

Common materials for use in home composting by type and those not suitable What are green and brown materials for my compost and what shouldn't I use?
GreensBrownsDo not use

Annual weeds

Bindweed

Bracken

Brussels sprout stalk

Carrot tops

Citrus peel

Coffee grounds

Comfrey leaves

Cut flowers

Fruit peelings and pulp

Fruit seeds

Grass mowings

Hay

Hedge clippings

House plants

Ivy leaves

Nettles

Old bedding plants

Perennial weeds

Rhubarb leaves

Seaweed

Soft prunings and plant debris

Tea leaves and bags

Urine

Vegetable peelings and pulp

 Autumn leaves

 Cardboard

 Christmas tree

 Corn starch liners

 Cotton towels

 Cotton wool

 Egg boxes

 Egg shells

 Evergreen prunings

 Hair

 Natural corks

 Nuts

 Paper bags

 Privet

 Straw

 Sweetcorn cobs

 Thorny prunings

 Tomato plants

 Used kitchen paper

 Vacuum cleaner contents

 Wood ash

 Wool

Bones

Bread

Cans

Cat litter

Cigarette ends

Coal ash

Crisp packets

Dairy products

Disposable nappies

Dog faeces

Dog food

Drink cartons

Meat and fish scraps

Olive oil

Plastic

Soiled tissues

Dairy products, meat, fish and bones can create harmful pathogens when composted at home and as such should not be added to your home composting bin. However, all of these items can be safely added to your brown bin recycling and composted by our contractors. The process which they use means compost reaches a much higher temperature and kills off harmful bugs allowing the material to be safely used as compost.

How long will composting take?

It will generally take between 9 and 12 months for your compost to be ready to use - you can tell it is ready when it is a dark brown colour, slightly moist, crumbly feel and has a really earthy smell.

Speeding up the process

It is possible to speed this process by turning and mixing the compost  regularly to allow the material to mix together and allow more oxygen in which helps speed the breakdown of material. This can be done using a garden fork, alternatively, special compost bins can be purchased that resemble cement mixers which have a handle to turn a drum which the compost is contained within.

Granulated compost accelerator feed can also be added to compost bins. These granules or powders contain a mixture of nutrients which help microorganisms break down the material into compost.

What to do when your compost is ready (sieve and go)

If you have any large chunks or stalks that haven't quite broken down, you can sieve the smaller parts of the compost off and apply them to your garden and put the larger chunks back in the compost bin to break down for your next batch. Alternatively, if you are using your compost as mulch, this can be added straight to your garden after watering to retain moisture in your planting. 

 


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