A beginners guide
The best thing about composting is that it's free, easy to make and great for the environment.
- Find the right site - Site your compost bin in a reasonably sunny site on bare soil. If you must put your compost bin on concrete, tarmac or patio slabs ensure that there's a layer of paper and twigs or existing compost on the bottom. Choose a place where you can easily add ingredients to the bin and get the compost out.
- Add the right ingredients - Have a container in your kitchen and fill it with 'greens' and 'browns'. Take care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish. Empty all of the items in your container along with your garden waste into your compost bin. A 50 / 50 mix of browns and greens is the perfect recipe for good compost.
- Tea bags
- Grass cuttings
- Vegetable peelings, salad leaves, and fruit scraps
- Old flowers and nettles
- Finished bedding plants
- Crushed egg shells
- Egg and cereal boxes
- Corrugated cardboard and paper (scrunched up)
- Toilet and kitchen roll tubes
- Garden prunings
- Twigs and hedge clippings
- Straw and hay
- Tissues, paper towels and napkins
- Vacuum cleaner bag contents
Big no no's
- Cooked vegetables
- Dairy products
- Dog faeces, cat litter or disposable nappies
Wait for a while
All you need to do is to wait and let nature do the work. Keep on adding greens and browns to top up the compost. The process should take between nine and 12 months.
Ready to use
Once your compost has turned into a crumbly dark material and gives off an earthy fresh aroma, you know it's ready for use. It's normal if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells. Use it to beef up your borders or revitalise your flowerbeds or why not simply use as mulch.
- A kitchen caddy is handy to collect scraps. It saves time and the effort of having to nip out to the compost bin every time you prepare a meal.
- Garden soil and finished compost are full of micro-organisms. Add half a shovel maximum (too much will slow the process down) to add nutrients to your composting.
- Good aeration is required to produce the best compost. For best results turn your compost on a regular basis as this helps add oxygen and speeds up the whole process.