How to compost

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Home Composting involves gathering together various types of organic waste such as leaves, grass clippings and vegetable peeling, into a pile so that it will break down into a rich brownish-black product called compost. This section of our website is designed to give you the basic understanding of how to give it a go …

In this post we will cover the following

WHY COMPOST?

To help the environment:

Composting your organic waste at home is a great way to help reduce the amount we are throwing in landfill sites every year.
Using homemade compost will help to protect natural rare peat bogs that are being destroyed, by reducing the need for natural peat based compost products.
To Improve Your Garden:

By digging compost into the soil it improves soil texture and nutritional quality.
Through using compost as mulch around plants to help retain moisture.
The organic matter in garden compost helps to break up heavy clay soils, making them lighter and much easier to work.
To Save Money:

Buying less peat and fertilisers.
By helping the County Council cut disposal costs for waste.

Compost bins are also available from outlets such as garden centres, DIY stores and online. They can be made of various materials and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so you are sure to find one that suits your garden.

how to make compost

WHAT MATERIALS CAN I COMPOST?

Grass cuttings
Weeds
Leaves
Hedge clippings
Uncooked food (tea bags, vegetable peelings, apple cores, banana skins, egg shells, etc)
Shredded paper and card
Cooked foods
Cat and dog litter / poo
Diseased plants
Meat and fish
Persistent weeds

COMPOSTING QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q: Where should I put my compost bin / heap?
A: Firstly ensure your composter, whether it is homemade or bought, is in a good spot in the garden. The best place for a composter is on soil or grass, to allow drainage and to let the worms get in. Also you should put the composter in a nice warm place in the garden to maintain the best temperature for the process.

Q: Can I put just one material in my compost bin or does it need a mixture?
A: To make good compost add a variety of compostable materials and create loose layers. Avoid heavy layers of grass cuttings or leaves.

Q: Should my compost bin be dry or wet?
A: Keep your materials damp but not wet. Add small quantities of water, or moist grass clippings or leafy materials if the compost is drying out. Or add drier material such as shredded newspaper if the mixture is too wet.

Q: My composter gives off a nasty smell, why and what can I do about it?
A: This is because your compost is too wet and is breaking down anaerobically, meaning without air. To help reduce the wetness try leaving the lid off in dry weather, removing some grass clippings or adding some shredded paper. Turn regularly with a garden fork to mix dry and wet materials together to improve air circulation.

Q: How long does it take to make compost?
A: Composting can take weeks or months, depending on how much air and moisture the material receives. By turning the compost regularly to help add air you should make compost in 3-6 months. In winter it will take longer because cold weather slows the process down.

Q: What can I add to speed up the process?
A: Compost can take a while to make. A slow turn over may be because the material is not reaching high enough temperatures. Try moving the composter into sunlight and keep the lid on. It could also be that its too dry so try to keep the pile moist. Try adding an activator; ready made activators can be bought from most Gardening Centres. Young nettles help to speed the process up too.

Q: Why does compost turn wet and slimy?
A: Usually because you have put in too much soft material, grass clippings and vegetable peelings etc. Make sure you get a good mixture of materials, try adding chopped up dry twigs and wood chips and some shredded newspaper you will give the compost a better texture. Try turning the mixture with a garden fork more often.

Q: Can I compost my hedge clippings?
A: You can compost green garden waste. This includes fallen leaves and prunings from hedges. Try to ensure that you get a good mixture of materials in your compost pile as well as the hedge clippings. Any woody stems and branches will take longer to decompose and you may want to take those to your local Community Recycling Centre and add them to the green garden waste collections for larger scale composting.

Q: Will having a compost heap attract mice and rats?
A: Compost heaps may highlight the fact that vermin are in your local area. You need to remove any unsuitable material and remember what can and can’t be composted. Try placing chicken wire round the base of the compost heap.

For further advice and information on Home Composting please click here to go to our links page.

WORMERIES

Not got the space for a compost bin? Then try a Wormery!!

Having a wormery is an easy & efficient way of converting ordinary organic kitchen waste into top quality compost and concentrated liquid feed therefore reducing the need for chemical fertilisers. Naturally worms ‘recycle’ the organic material, therefore reducing the waste dumped in landfill sites.

GETTING A WORMERY

Contact your Local Council to find out if they sell wormeries at a discounted price. Alternatively try your local garden centres or please click here to go to our links page.

Wormeries are easy to maintain and don’t cause nasty smells if used properly. Have a look at our top tips:

TOP TIPS:

When you put new worms in a wormery, they like to explore their new home. If you don’t ensure the lid is firmly closed, they might escape! We suggest you keep the wormery outside in a sheltered shady place.
Add a touch of water now and then if your worm bin is getting too dry.
After about six months you’ll probably have too many worms for your bin. Empty half of the mix onto the garden, or split it into two and make a second worm bin.
YES! What to feed your worms

Fruit and vegetable peelings
Tea bags
Small amounts of newspaper and cardboard
Leaves from houseplants
NO! Don’t feed these to your worms

Garden waste such as cuttings, grass etc these materials are better on a compost heap
Too much strong food such as onion, chilli, garlic and citrus peel
Dairy products
Meat
Fish
Fat / oil
Animal droppings

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