Composting at home is a great way to recycle your garden and kitchen waste into a free supply of compost that will keep your garden blooming year after year. You can either create a heap or buy a compost bin - see the special offer for Essex residents on the following page.
Making good compost
Like any recipe, your compost bin or heap relies on the right ingredients to make it work. You need a good mix of greens and browns to make sure your compost is properly balanced. Greens are quick to rot, and provide important nitrogen and moisture. So if your compost is too dry, add some greens. Browns are things that are slower to rot, and provide fibre and carbon which also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. If your compost is too wet, add some more browns.
Greens to put in:
- soft leaves, flowers and nettles
- grass cuttings, but not too much in one go
- raw vegetable and fruit peelings, salad leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps
- tea bags and coffee grounds
- spent bedding plants
- young annual weeds that haven't seeded yet.
Browns to put in:
- twiggy shrub prunings and hedge cuttings
- straw, hay bedding and food from vegetarian pet hutches
- sawdust and wood chippings
- ashes from wood, paper and lump wood charcoal
- shredded paper
- crushed eggshells
- scrunched or torn up cardboard such as egg boxes.
What not to put in:
- cooked food, meat and dairy products
- diseased plants
- perennial weeds or weeds with seed heads
- dog poo, cat litter or nappies
- plastics, glass and metals.
Top tips for the perfect compost:
- place your compost heap or bin on level, well-drained soil in partial or full shade
- loosen the soil below the bin to improve drainage and increase access for worms and bacteria
- keep a good mix of greens and browns in your compost bin to make sure your compost is properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more browns. If it's too dry, add more greens
- regularly fork your compost over to help aerate it, which helps speed up the composting process.
After six to nine months your compost should be ready to enrich your flowerbeds.