Nowadays, lots of us are familiar with recycling our food waste in a special food bin to help do something good for the planet. But there is an alternative way to dispose of your leftover scraps that could be even better for your garden, your pocket and the environment.
Composting is about helping your kitchen and garden waste decompose in an eco-friendly way that makes a great fertilizer for your plants. Gathering up the right waste items results in a nutrient rich, earthy material that acts as a vitamin for your soil, meaning your plants grow healthier and you save money from buying fertilizer which can include harmful chemicals.
If you’re looking to start home composting, the first thing you need to do is work out where to store your compost. If you’ve got space in your garden, a compost bin is a convenient solution, or even a well-drained, sunny corner of the garden will work well to start your compost heap.
For those with a little less outdoor space, there are options for indoor composting. There are a number of electric composters on the market but any lidded bin will do as long as it can be placed somewhere to get some sunlight. If you don’t have anywhere to use your compost, local composting centres, farms and gardens are happy to receive extra compost.
To get started with home composting, you want to begin with a layer of dry, brown materials like sticks and twigs. This will help to stop your compost becoming soggy by allowing for aeration and drainage, which will avoid any nasty smells. On top of this first layer, you can start piling up a whole range of kitchen and garden waste items to save them from heading to landfill.
There are some important do’s and don’ts for home composting. If you’re wondering what you can put in your compost, you want to use a combination of dry, brown materials such as twigs, cardboard, wood and eggshells, and wet, green ingredients such as food scraps, green leaves, and green lawn clippings. A full list of compost-friendly ingredients is below.
A tip to help speed up the composting process is to chop and shred your ingredients before you add them to the pile. When your bin is full, try to top your compost off with some dry brown sticks to keep animals and odours at bay.
Once set up, your compost bin is very low-maintenance. All it needs is some regular aeration to stop it going soggy, which will invite in unwanted creatures. A thorough stir once a week should be enough to keep your compost happy and healthy. This will also help it to decompose faster.
These simple steps should give you the information and inspiration to give home composting a go. By using some compost on your soil, you’ll be helping your garden to blossom and doing a little something for your pocket and the planet in the process.
You can read about Councillor Graves’s experience of composting for over 30 years (!) here.
Grass clippings and yard trimmings
Fruit and veggie scraps
Hair and nail clippings
Wood and bark chips
Coffee grounds and tea leaves
Fats and oils – these might attract pests to your compost
Bones or scrap meat