Much of our uncooked kitchen waste and garden rubbish can easily be home composted. Composting turns your kitchen and garden waste into a free nutrient rich food for your garden and can be used on the vegetable garden, flower beds or placed around trees to improve soil structure and nutrient content.
Get a discounted compost bin when you live in Staffordshire
If you decide to give it a go, to help you get started we are offering specially discounted compost equipment for a limited time. Head over to www.getcomposting.com and pop in your postcode.
You can order online or call 0844 571 4444 and quote reference SWP13L. Charges are made at the standard cost from a BT landline of 5p per minute, plus setup charge. Other providers may charge more.
Composting is nature’s own way of recycling, breaking down organic waste to produce a valuable resource which can be used on the vegetable garden or flower beds.
Adding compost to the soil helps to improve the soil structure and add nutrients to help the growth of stronger healthy plants. Healthier plants are more resistant to damage from pests and diseases.
What can I compost?
Much of our uncooked kitchen waste and garden rubbish can be composted. Compost can be made in almost all settings, whether it be a back yard, small or large garden, school playground, balcony, or even on a boat. There are methods to fit every situation and techniques to fit a range of lifestyles. Aim for a balance of 50% greens and 50% browns in your bin to get the right mix.
Food waste digesters
Residents who wish to recycle all of their food waste in the garden, including cooked foods meats, fish and dairy products can consider food waste digesters.
Staffordshire residents can obtain a 25% discount on food waste digesters by going to the Great Green Systems
website or by typing your postcode into the postcode finder.
A beginners guide to home composting
Take a look at the drop downs to see what you can compost.
- uncooked fruit and vegetables
- coffee grounds and tea bags
- grass cuttings
- houseplants and flowers
- hedge clippings
- shredded paper, cardboard or used kitchen paper
- finely chopped shrub prunings
- corn starch liners
- cooked food
- pernicious weeds (such as bindweed, thistle and dock)
- cat and dog litter
- fish or meat scraps or bones
- plastic bags
- Compost builds up the structure of your soil so your flowers or vegetables will get off to a great start, it also can act as a great mulch to supress weeds and reduce the need to water. Adding compost to your soil on a regular basis will help both drainage and moisture retention. Both will be important as our weather starts to change as climate change starts to affect our weather.
- Rats may visit your compost heap if they are already present in the area, but composting does not generally attract the rats in the first place. Placing the compost bin on a hard surface can help, although this will reduce the composting process. If you are concerned about rats, using builders mesh across the bottom of your bin is a better option to allow beneficial bacteria, fungi and insects to access the material from the soil and kick-start the decomposition process.
- It shouldn’t. Unpleasant smells are usually a sign that there’s not enough oxygen in the material. Oxygen is needed for the fungi, bacterial and bugs to break it down into a sweet, earthy smelling compost. Having the correct mix of green and brown should prevent bad smells, an occasional stir can help if the compost starts to smell.
The time can vary. It can be as fast as three to four months if the weather’s warm and there is a good mix of green and brown, but it could take up to a year.
Ideally site your compost bin in a reasonably sunny spot on bare soil. The reason you should site your bin on soil is that it makes it easy for beneficial bacteria, fungi and insects to access the material and allows for better drainage. Although the compost bin can also be sited on other surfaces or on builder’s mesh if rats could be a problem.
If the weeds have gone to seed do not place these in the compost. Pernicious perennial weeds (such as bindweed, thistle and dock) should not be composted either as your compost bin is unlikely to get hot enough to kill these weeds.
For home composting to be successful you need the get the right mix of material which is classed as 50% greens (such as cut flowers, food waste and grass clippings) and 50% browns (such as cardboard and shrub pruning’s). If you add too much green the mix will be too wet and not have enough air pockets for the material to compost properly.
- For home composting to be successful you need the get the right mix of material which is classed as 50% greens (such as cut flowers, food waste and grass clippings) and 50% browns (such as cardboard and shrub pruning’s). If you add too much brown material the mix will be very dry and very slow to breakdown.
Air is vital for your food and garden waste to break down into good compost. If you have a good mix of brown and green there should already be enough air in the mix for effective decomposition. Many of us struggle to get the perfect mix so if you are able to give the mix a stir around in the bin with a garden fork, or turn the heap this can help to keep air in the mix.