Home composting benefits your garden and your environment and
it's easy. Compost is a complete and natural food for your soil, it
improves its structure, its water retaining ability and its overall
health. Simply place bio-degradable material in your compost bin
and let nature do the rest.
Here are a list of things you can use to make compost:
Vegetable and fruit peelings
Chop up or crush stems and large pieces of tough vegetables.
Brassica stalks are most difficult. They are best attacked with a
lump hammer. Some people avoid potato peel as the eyes can sprout
and produce plants. If they do, pull them out and re-compost
Tea leaves, coffee grounds and crushed egg shells
If you are using tea bags or coffee filters, try to make sure
that they are the non-chlorine bleached kind. Egg shells should be
rinsed then crushed.
The compost temperature should rise to about 66C ⁄ 150F which
kills off most weed seeds and diseases. Weeds tend to be high in
nitrogen and can be used as activator layers, especially nettles.
Never attempt to compost pernicious weeds such as couch grass,
bindweed creeping buttercup. They simply love compost heaps and
will keep on growing.
High in nitrogen and a good activator. Avoid thick layers as
they compact and turn to slime.
From your pet or family - no problem.
Paper (and soft cardboard such as egg trays) can be added in
small amounts but should ideally be shredded.
- scrunch the small amounts of paper into a ball and add to the
compost - this creates air pockets and therefore aids aerobic
- avoid coloured inks (used by most tabloid newspapers)
Vegetarian pets only, such as Guinea pig or rabbit and it is
best mixed with straw. All are good activators but pig manure tends
to be a bit smelly.
- pigeon manure is particularly rich and strong so use it
- dog and cat litter should be avoided since they can spread
These take a long time to decompose and should be added only in
- watch out for the resin you get from conifers - it is
toxic and needs composting for longer
Contain lignin and take a long time to decompose the same as
wood. Best dealt with separately in leaf mould piles.
Add only in small amounts and well chopped up. Again, they are
best dealt with separately
Straw and hay
Old and chopped is best. Soak well before adding if dry.
You may be able to get them from your local brewery. High in
nitrogen, they make a good activator.
The contents of a vacuum cleaner sack compost excellently
particularly if you have woollen carpets. Do not try and compost if
you have primarily synthetic carpets - synthetic threads
Things to avoid
- body fluids, disposable nappies, used paper handkerchiefs (in
case the pathogens which carry disease are not all destroyed by the
- excrement - human/cat dog (for the same reason)
- brightly coloured or shiny card or paper
- hard objects, stones, bits of glass, metal, plastic
- cleaning fluids and other household/garden chemicals
- meat (cooked - raw) the smell can attract animals
- chopping material for the compost bin speeds up the composting
- if your compost bin appears too dry, add a few sprinkles of
water for moisture
- make sure you have a good mix of green and brown compost
material to ensure your compost is the right texture
- green material can be vegetable peelings, egg shells, tea-bags,
- brown material can be woody prunings, plant stems, twigs, egg
boxes, crumpled paper, wood shavings
Harvesting your compost
It takes between six to nine months for your compost to be
ready. However, after this time you don’t need to wait until
everything in the compost bin is composted before using it.
Remove the top two thirds of material in your bin and take away
the bottom third for use - this should be a crumbly, dark material,
resembling soil with a fresh, earthy aroma. This is your homemade
compost which you can now use to condition your soil, or as a
potting mix or as a mulch ⁄ top dressing.
Then sit back to watch your garden and indoor plants come to