At least 30 per cent of the contents of the average household bin could be composted at home. Composting is the breakdown of organic material in the presence of oxygen. The process involves hundreds of micro-organisms and creatures like earthworms feeding on the material until it becomes a rich, earthy substance.
- It is a great way of improving your soil fertility for free;
- Land filling of organic waste produces methane (a greenhouse gas) while composting does not ;
- It is a 'closed-loop' recycling system - you produce the waste, you compost it, you use the product;
- Compost is a good alternative to buying peat-based composts, which result in peat bog habitat loss;
What can I Compost?
Below is a list of all the things you CAN compost:
- fruit and vegetable peelings;
- tea bags and coffee grounds;
- old flowers;
- grass cuttings;
- cardboard egg boxes;
- small amounts of scrunched up newspaper;
- bedding from vegetarian pets (eg. straw, hay or newspaper from a rabbit hutch);
- shredded paper;
- garden prunings;
- old natural fibre clothing (eg. wool or cotton; donate to charity if in good condition);
Below is a list of all the things you CAN'T compost:
- cooked food;
- cat and dog waste;
- coal ash (wood ash can be composted);
Solving Composting Problems
For composting to work properly, your bin needs both moisture and air. The best way to achieve this is to put in a good mixture of 'greens' which supply the moisture and nitrogen, and 'browns' which aerate the compost and supply carbon.
If you find your compost is wet and sludgy, you may need to add more 'browns' and turn the compost to let air in.
If the compost is too dry, you may need to add 'greens' or a little water to the bin.
After a few months, the ingredients you have put in your compost bin should have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material at the bottom of the bin, which can be dug out leaving the newer material in the bin.
Don't worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is quite usable.
A more comprehensive list of ingredients and good advice about composting is available on the Garden Organic home composting website.
Where can I buy a Compost bin?
You can find the standard composting bins at most garden centres across the island such as Gaudions, Earlswood, Le Friquet and Kings Mills Garden Centre.