Composting at home
Reduce your waste by a third
Vegetable peelings, tea bags, garden prunings, paper and many other items from your home and garden will decompose easily and naturally in a compost bin or heap, leaving you less waste to bag up and put out for collection and further processing.
If your council has had to stop its usual food or garden waste collection due to the COVID-19 crisis, now might be the time to think about starting to home compost.
About a third of your waste can be composted at home, saving energy and resources and benefiting your garden and your pocket.
In your compost bin or heap this biodegradable waste can be very easily broken down into convenient, free compost by useful insects and micro-organisms, which is perfect for mulching and conditioning your garden soil.
Do I need a compost bin?
If you can't currently get hold of a purpose-made compost bin, you can make your own by taking a container such as an old dustbin or a plastic box, and punching small holes in the lid and sides to allow oxygen in. Or you could create a simple compost heap instead. Using a heap may take longer for contents to break down and compost than a bin, but it will still work.
Where shall I put my compost bin or heap?
A compost bin or heap is best positioned on soil, so that worms and creepy crawlies will find it easily, but these will also work on concrete, providing there is some drainage.
Do I need any other equipment or tools?
No. You might find it handy to keep a container in the kitchen for your food waste and compostable packaging (such as egg cartons), to reduce the number of trips you have to take to the bin or heap.
What should I put into my bin or onto my heap?
Your bin or heap needs a mix of items that rot at different speeds.
What shouldn’t I compost?
Meat bones or fish skeletons
Raw fruit or vegetable peelings
Dairy products, such as milk and cheese
Cooked or processed food
Cardboard (cut into small pieces and crushed)
Carnivorous animal poo, such as from cats and dogs
Grass clippings (small amounts at a time)
Roots of perennial weeds, such as dandelions, ground elder, bindweed, couch and docks
Teabags and coffee grounds
Herbivorous animal poo such as from guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits
Toilet roll and kitchen roll tubes
How shall I mix the contents?
Fast rotters rot quickly and can become compacted/wet, so mixing them with slow rotters should prevent the compost becoming slimy and smelly. Slow rotters tend to be dryer and compost more slowly, which give the compost texture and create air pockets throughout the heap. Your home compost bin or heap should ideally have an equal amount of both fast rotters and slow rotters in the bin or on the heap.
How do I maintain the contents?
Keep your compost moist but not soaking wet – as a guide, it should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water to it with a watering can. If it’s too wet, think about adding to the mix some card ripped into small pieces.