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Home composting FAQs

Wheel barrow full of plants and flower in a garden

Sunday 1 April 2018

How do I set up my home compost bin?

  • Place your compost bin on soil in a sunny spot
  • Add 50% green items and 50% brown items
  • Mix compost with a garden folk once a week
  • In 9 to 12 months you should have dark, crumbly compost, ready to use as a soil improver in your garden.

What should I put in my home compost bin?

  • Grass cuttings and prunings, vegetable and fruit scraps, old flowers and nettles, coffee grounds and non-plastic tea bags, crushed egg shells and egg boxes, shredded newspaper and cardboard, dry leaves and twigs.
  • You can also place feathers, wool, vacuum bag contents and woody clippings into your bin.

What shouldn’t I put in my home compost bin?

  • Avoid putting meat, dairy products and cooked vegetables in your bin as this can encourage unwanted pests and create odours.  It’s also recommended that you avoid composting perennial weeds and diseased plants. Cat litter, dog feces and nappies shouldn’t be added either.

How long does it take to make home compost?

  • On average 9 to 12 months, but it can be quicker if the weather is warm for a long period of time.

What should I do with my home compost?

  • Your compost bin will make compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.  You can add it directly to your garden beds and boarders, which you can fork into the soil or leave it on the surface as mulch.  It will work gradually to improve the nutrient content and overall structure of the soil and should lead to healthier plants.
  • If you want to make a general purpose potting soil that is suitable for growing most vegetables, then it’s recommended that you mix two parts compost to one part sieved garden soil.  For potting soil suitable for containers and window boxes combine two parts soil to one-part compost and one-part sand.

Do home compost bins smell?

  • Your compost bin shouldn’t smell unpleasant.  If you find that it does it may mean that it contains too much ‘green’ material and lacks air.  This can easily be fixed! First of all you can try turning the compost with a garden fork to add more air into the mix.  Next, try adding more ‘brown’ materials like bits of cardboard, scrunched up newspaper, hedge trimmings or twigs. Mix this new material in and that should do the trick.

Do home compost bins attract rats?

  • It’s very unlikely that your compost bin will attract rats.  If you add meat or fish to your bin then you may find this could attract rats and so avoid including them.  If you place your compost bin in a very secluded part of your garden this may make it a tempting place for rats and so position your bin in a place where it will be disturbed on a regular basis.  If you are worried about rats getting in your bin then you could use a compost bin base, you could turn the compost regularly with a garden fork and you could visit the bin frequently to disturb the area.

How can I avoid ants and fruit flies in my home compost bin?

  • Ants are a common creature of the composting process and won’t do your compost any harm. A lot of ants in your compost bin may mean, however, that the mix is too dry. Try adding cold water to the compost bin and ensure that enough 'green' materials, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, are being added regularly.
  • Fruit flies are also very common and harmless. If you want to prevent them in your bin then try covering materials waiting to be composted with newspaper or a lid. Add soil, cardboard or grass clippings to your compost bin or try leaving the compost bin lid off overnight.

I don’t have space for a compost bin, are they any alternatives?

  • is able to offer a number of smaller bins that can be used for home composting, including wormeries and Bokashi system.

Find out more about home composting:

Order your discounted compost bin

How to compost in autumn and winter