Home composting is a great way to improve soil quality and make your plants happier. On top of this, it’s a really environmentally-friendly way to make the most of your kitchen and garden waste.
Composting can be done all year round, whenever suitable materials are generated in the garden or home. But, the peak time for composting is late summer to early winter.
What sort of container should I use?
A open heap will still compost eventually, but the warmth and moisture retained in a bin will make better compost more quickly. A compost bin needs to exclude rain, retain some warmth, allow drainage and let in air.
Here are a few options to suit every budget:
- An easy and affordable option, composting bags can be purchased for around £7 via Amazon.
- Large, plastic composting bins can be found for around £30 via Amazon.
- Rotatable composting bins can be purchased for around £60 via Amazon.
Where should I place the container?
The micro-organisms that convert the waste to compost work best in constant conditions, so it’s best to place your compost bin in a shady area of the garden.
If possible, position the container on the earth. This allows for base drainage and the compost will benefit from the soil underneath. But you can still compost on a hard surface – just add a spadeful of soil to the compost bin.
What should I put in it?
Getting the right balance of composting materials will help it to do well. A good balance would be…
- 25 – 50% of soft green materials (grass clippings, weeds, vegetable kitchen waste etc)
- 50 – 75% of woody brown material (prunings, wood chippings, paper, cardboard, dead leaves etc)
Avoid letting any one material dominate the heap – especially grass clippings, as these can become slimy and smelly without a good balance.
What maintenance does it need?
Air is necessary for composting to occur so turning the heap is important. The composting process is slower when less air is available.
Ideally, place a lot of composting materials on the heap in one go; turning it once each month to introduce air. But, filling the heap gradually is still effective.
If you see flies then make sure you cover kitchen waste with garden waste after adding it to the heap. The compost bin shouldn’t be swarming with flies.
When is the compost ready?
Garden compost can take between six months and two years to reach maturity. When it’s ready it’ll be dark brown, with a soil-like texture and a damp woodland sort of smell. Any remaining un-rotted material within the heap can be added to the next batch of composting materials.