Food waste composting

How to compost

Composting is easy if you follow these steps:

compost binYou can either buy a compost bin  or a food waste digesterbuild a bin, or find a corner for a heap. Once you’ve decided on the type of composter you want, you need to decide where to put it.

Bare soil is the ideal location, but if it is on a hard surface, add a layer of soil or compost, and put it in the sun or partial shade. If you would prefer not to have your bin or heap on display, there are some ways that you can screen it from view – try screening with live plants, a trellis, bamboo or willow.

It’s also a good idea to put it at an accessible place close to the house; when the weather is poor you wont want to go far to put your vegetable peelings in.

Compost itemsYou can add garden waste, and everything from vegetable and fruit peelings to teabags, paper towels and egg shells. Take care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish which can go in your outdoor caddy and be collected with your waste or recycling.

You can also add cardboard, and scrunched up or shredded paper. See the full list of what can go into compost bins.

Fill up compost binEmpty your uncooked kitchen and garden waste into your bin or heap. Remember, the perfect recipe for good compost is a 50/50 mix of greens (to provide moisture) and browns (to allow air pockets) to form. If your compost is too wet and gives off an odour, add more browns. If it’s too dry and is not rotting, add some greens.

Turning compostIt takes nine to 12 months for your waste to rot into compost, so keep adding your greens and browns.

You can also turn your compost, which helps to introduce air and speed up the rotting process.

Digging compostThe ingredients you have put in your bin or heap should have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material at the bottom of the bin, which can be dug out. Leave the newer material for further composting.

Don’t worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells – this is perfectly normal. Simply sift out any bits that need longer to compost, and return them to your bin or heap.

Use your compostAll you have to do is lift your bin slightly or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost with a garden fork or spade. If you have a plastic bin, you can lift the whole bin off to access the compost.

For heaps just dig the compost out of the bottom, you may need to use a wheelbarrow to move the top material.

Use it and watch your garden bloom. Your compost can be used for all types of planting needs– for general potting (if mixed with something like ordinary soil), to enrich flowerbeds and vegetable patches. It can also be used as a mulch to help keep moisture in the soil or to feed your lawn (when sieved and mixed with sharp sand).