What is home composting?
Home composting is simple, cheap and can be undertaken in a compost container or heap in your own garden.
Home composting is natures' way of recycling organic material such as kitchen scraps and garden waste into a dark, crumbly soil conditioner.
The food that you put in your brown bin is also taken away and turned into compost for community gardens, farms and householders.
Why make a compost heap?
- To save money
- To improve your garden
- The compost can be used as mulch around plants to help retain moisture and discourage weeds and dug into the soil to improve its quality. (Less need to buy peat and fertilisers)
- Compost helps to reduce disposal costs for waste
- Composting can help the environment and biodiversity
- It helps to cut global pollution through reducing the amount of methane gas produced from landfill sites
- Composting helps to protect peat bogs which are destroyed to make potting compost
- It encourages the worms to do their job and keeps the birds happy!
Council has a limited supply of FREE home composters. Get the best out of your bin in 5 easy steps:
Step 1 - Placing your bin
It’s best to site your bin on a level, well drained spot. This allows excess water to drain out and makes it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in and get working on breaking down the contents. Placing your bin in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.
Step 2 - Put these in
Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Good things you can compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These “Greens” are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Other things you can compost include cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These “Browns” and are slower to rot. They provide fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add
Step 3 - Keep these out
Certain things should never be placed in your bin. No cooked vegetables, no meat, no dairy products, no diseased plants, and definitely no dog poo or cat litter, or baby’s nappies. Putting these in your bin can encourage unwanted pests and can also create odour. Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads. Remember that plastics, glass and metals are not suitable for composting and should be recycled separately.
Step 4 - Making good compost
The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your Greens and Browns properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more Browns. If it’s too dry, add some Greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. Air can also be added by mixing the contents. After approximately 6-9 months your finished compost will be ready.
Step 5 - Using your compost
Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer that you’ll find at the bottom of your bin. It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients. Some bins have a small hatch at the bottom that you can remove to get at the finished product, but sometimes it’s even easier to lift the bin or to tip it over to get at your compost. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. Composting is the easiest way to make your garden grow more beautiful.
What to compost? What can you put in a compost bin?
- Vegetable Peelings / Egg Shells
- Fruit Scraps
- Tea Bags/leaves and Coffee Grounds
- Grass Cuttings
- Finely Chopped or Shredded Shrub Prunings
- Most Garden Weeds
- Straw and Hay
What NOT to put in a compost bin
- Cooked Vegetables / Bread / Meat Scraps / Bones
- Materials Infected with Persistant Diseases e.g. Potato Blight
- Pernicious Weeds e.g.Bind Weed / Weeds with Seed heads
- Large Unchopped Woody Branches
- Cat or Dog Litter