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Welsh version

Ecodyfi's guide to composting at home

Did you know 50% of your waste currently going to landfill could be composted?

Finished compostComposting can provide excellent fertiliser for your garden and returns valuable nutrients to the soil.

Read on to find out how to make compost that:

  • is easy
  • doesn't smell
  • isn't slimy
  • doesn't need turning

The secrets of High Fibre Composting

(As developed by Peter Harper, biologist at C.A.T.)

The compost bin itself

The most successful outdoors compost bin is one that is:

  • low and wide
  • partly open at the top
  • big.

Compost binCompost bin suppliers

  • Gwynedd County Council Recycling Officer (01341) 424 412: Compost bins for households in Gwynedd.
  • Powys County Council Waste Management Section 0845 607 60 60: Provide Powys households with a 330 litre compost bin made from 100% recycled plastic and a kitchen caddy for just £15, including delivery.
  • Ceredigion County Council: Call (01970) 633010 or (01545) 572572 to order a bin at a subsidised price.
  • www.dealtime.co.uk: Compare compost bin prices from across the Web and read compost bin reviews from other consumers before you decide to buy.
  • www.johnlewis.com: John Lewis offers compost bins, including big compost, made from high density recycled plastic, with a sliding door for easy removal and a ventilation lid.
  • www.nickys-nursery.co.uk: Compost your kitchen waste with worms. Wormery & beehive composters, compost boxes, worms & equipment.
  • www.hdra.org.uk: HDRA - the organic association factsheet on how to build your own compost bin.
  • www.shadowlink.net: Recycle your garbage with this easy to make compost bin. This natural compost bin is a container that holds organic material, allowing it to break down into nutrients that you will put back into the soil as fertiliser.

How to make compost in four easy steps

Food scraps

+

screwed-up paper and card

=

compost

Food scraps

+

screwed-up
paper & card

=

compost

Chris Conroy composting1. Collect all food scraps in a lidded compost bin in your kitchen.

Top tip: Lining the compost bin with newspaper will soak up moisture and make the bin easier to empty.

2. Put crumpled up non-recyclable paper and cardboard into the same bin.

Top tip: Crumpling up your paper traps air preventing smelly anaerobic composition.

3. Empty your kitchen bin about twice a week into your outside compost bin.

There is no need to turn the compost just keep on adding to it. It will take about a year for the material to fully compost.

A hatch at the bottom of your bin allows you to get at your lovely compost and feed it to your garden plants.

Top tip: Having two compost bins allows you to alternate between the two each year.

4. Use the compost in the 1st bin one year whilst the compost in the 2nd bin breaks down ready for the following year.

compost bin cutawayWhat goes in your bin?

tick

Nutritious components:

  • all raw and cooked food
  • vegetable peelings
  • crushed egg shells
  • tea bags and coffee
  • vacuum cleaner dust
  • hair and nail clippings
  • some grass clippings
tick

Fibrous components:

  • crumpled up non-recyclable paper
  • crumpled up cereal boxes
  • egg boxes
  • kitchen paper
  • wrapping paper
  • toilet roll spindles
  • tissues

What doesn't go in your bin?

cross
  • Flat papers, i.e. newspapers, magazines, writing paper, printer paper, letters and envelopes. These should be recycled.
  • Drinks cartons and frozen food packaging, as these contain plastic. They can be recycled.
  • Garden Waste i.e. leaves, grass, weeds, woody waste. These take much longer to break down and should be composted separately.
  • Meat as government regulations advise against it.

Composting Queries

Is composting safe?

Once all the original materials have completely broken down the compost is perfectly safe.

My compost bin smells

Add more crumpled up cardboard and paper. This stops the compost becoming too wet and allows aerobic decomposition as opposed to anaerobic, which produces smelly gases.

There are lots of fruit flies in my bin

Fruit flies help the process but can be unpleasant.

Remove the lid so that they don't fly out in swarms when you open it; or have a mesh lid that allows the flies to escape in small numbers.

Make sure your bin in the kitchen has a lid to prevent them getting into the compost and laying eggs.

I have problems with drainage or rodents

Place your bin on a wire mesh or a solid base with drainage gaps. This ensures good drainage and keeps rodents out.

A well fitting lid stops compost getting too wet and also helps keep rodents out.

Are heavy metals and chemicals from the inks in paper and card harmful?

Modern inks are in no way harmful in the tiny amounts used.

How do I know when my compost is ready?

It can take from a few months to a year for compost to be made, depending on how warm it is or whether you use worms.

The finished compost will look like a rich crumbly soil, without a trace of its original contents.

If there are small pieces of material that have not been broken down you can sieve the compost to improve its appearance.

What do I do with it?

You can use it as mulch, or dig it into the soil as a soil conditioner.

My garden's very small, will I have enough room?

You do not need much space, and it's important for all of us to recycle as much of our waste as we can.

If many gardeners in your area have large amounts of garden waste, why not start a community composting scheme?

Where can I get hold of, or get rid of, home compost?

You could donate your finished compost to neighbouring gardeners.

If you have email you could try the Machynlleth Swapshop, or ask ecodyfi on 01654 703971.