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How do I compost at home?

Person adding food waste to compost bin

Thursday 2 January 2020

Home composting is easy and quick to do. The process is simple, but it's important to understand what to do to get the most from your compost bin or heap.

The stages of composting

  1. The ideal location to place your compost bin is a sunny spot on bare soil, but anywhere that gets some sun throughout the day is fine.
  2. Regularly fill the bin with 50% green ingredients (such as grass cuttings, vegetable and fruit scraps and coffee grounds) and 50% brown ingredients (such as egg shells and boxes, newspaper, cardboard, dry leaves and twigs). You can also place feathers, wool, vacuum bag contents and woody clippings into your bin.
  3. At least once a week mix the compost with a garden fork.
  4. Wait 9 – 12 months before the compost is crumbly and dark, then your soil improver is ready to use on your garden
  5. Fork out the soil improver and spread it on borders and vegetable patches.  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.

What not to put in your 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.

What to do if your compost bin smells?

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 by mixing the compost and adding more 'brown' materials.

Do compost bins attract rats?

It’s very unlikely that your compost bin will attract rats. Make sure you keep mixing your bin, to disturb the area, and don't add any meat or fish to your bin. If you are worried about rats getting in your bin then you could use a compost bin base.

Find out more about home composting

Try composting at home

Why should I compost at home?