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Starting a compost bin


By peter


My new compost bin finally arrived this morning and I’ve realised I’m not quite sure what to do with it. The first issue is where to put it? I don’t know if it needs sun or shade, but the only place I want to put my garden Dalek is in a shaded corner away from the house.

So how do I get started? I’ve read a bit and have started collecting green kitchen waste to put in it, I still have all the weeds I dug up a few weeks ago and a bag of grass cuttings from when it was dry enough to mow the lawn. That shows how infrequently I go to the recycling centre, and another reason why I need a compost bin.

Digging around the veggies, I’m finding loads of worms at the moment which I’m going to start putting in the bin, and the mail we shred is going to go in there too. I’ve read that I need a good mix of green and brown waste, but don’t know how much of each; I’ll be putting in whatever we would normally throw away and will see how that gets on.

I read or heard something recently about taking the roots off certain weeds before composting them. I’m not going to do this because I can’t remember what weeds I’m meant to de-root, and even if I could remember, weeds are weeds – I’m not able to categorize them much more than that.

So that’s my plan – throw in what I would throw away, plus anything that comes out of the garden (including worms) and let nature do what it’s meant to, how wrong can it go?

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Hi there, lucky you, I inherited a compost bin and I dont seem to be able to get to the good stuff.. try, try and try again. I would only say keep the diseased stuff out of your compost bin.

26 Jul, 2007


Weeds with seed heads are dodgy, Peter, as they may not be killed off if your bin does not get hot enough. Then when you use the newly made compost,the seeds will germinate and you won't apreciate that! Other no-nos are pieces of bindweed etc which grow again! Remember to layer the stuff you put in, and mix paper shreds up with grass clippings which on their own can become slimy and smelly. We put in a layer of horse manure or garden soil occasionally, this speeds up the process. Large thick fibrous roots (e.g. from wild poppy plants), simply will not rot down so cut them off the rest of the plant or you will have to fish them out when you use your compost. It is also good practice to turn the compost every so often, I understand, but to be honest, we are lucky enough to have space for more than one bin, so we don't bother. Hope this broad outline helps. Good luck! It's definitely worth having your own compost.

26 Jul, 2007


Thanks Spritz, there are stables nearby so there's normally a free supply of manure on our road - I'll just need to explain why I'm carrying a bag of it :o)

26 Jul, 2007


Horse manure will help to speed up the process and get some heat going which should kill off any seeds. I put in any uncooked veggie waste layered with dry material and grass. If it seems too wet add some dry material if too dry water it. Never put cooked food or meat in the compost. Worms will come up from the soil as it begins to rot down and will multiply given all the nourishment. Turning helps to accellerate the process though it is not easy in a plastic composter. Slow worms like to nest in compost heaps so move material with care. Other things I would avoid adding to the heap, bindweed and any virus infected material, my tomatoes have blight so that is not going on the heap, I wouldn't want to spread that. Finally, save kitchen waste in a covered bin and only open the compost bin bin occasionally as you want to retain the heat in it, I know it's tempting to lift the lid to see how it's doing!

26 Jul, 2007


I made compost for the first time last year and it was great , I did find however egg shells did not break down and potato peeling started to grow once I put the compost on the ground !! lol , my hubby got the job of turning it over in the bin but he only did that 2 or 3 times ive got a second compost bin for this year and my neighbours are contributing to it , banana skins, tea bags , fruit peelings ,shredded paper , ul soon get the hang of it .Happy Gardening

26 Jul, 2007


I got my first bin lat year from the local council, and followed their instructions. I placed it on bare earth in half shade (provided by a tall conifer. then I put in a 6" layer of twigs (prunings) to act as an air filter and to allow minibeasts access. After that I didn't worry too much about how much of what I put in - lots of deadheading, spent gift bouquets, some (but not a lot) of grass clippings, teabags, crushed eggshell (which doesn't disappear but, when spread, makes people know the compost is home-grown). The worst thing I found was potato peelings (have got a whole crop of potatoes (are they edible?), but best thing was shredded till receipts, utility bills etc with personal details. All my details and expenditure have fed the garden (but do not shred and compost personal paperwork with a lot of colour, the ink dyes are not desirable). Our first bin was entirely free as a pilot project. Our household refuse has for 2 yrs now only been uplifted fortnightly and, with 2 young kids, it was not working b4. Now, and especially since I purchased a second garden dalek with free kitchen caddy from our council for only £8!, I have never been so successful with compost-making. It really does turn out as dark crumbly sweet-smelling nectar, enough to feed the entire garden, and so repeat the cycle. We always have room to spare in our household bin at the end of the fortnight!

26 Jul, 2007


I got ours from the council too, so cheap compared to the garden centres. Thanks for all the advice, everywhere I've looked says you can compost egg shells, now I know it's just to show off :o) I'll take heed and let you know of any mishaps - I'm sure there'll be some. Weemamabell - I love the idea of a communal 'green waste' bin for composting!

27 Jul, 2007


I agree, Weemamabell. You have just put another (dangerous?) thought into my mind. Perhaps I could ask our local Council to donate a bin or 2 to put alongside their recycling wagons, but for the community members who don't home compost to put stuff into, for use by the local village in bloom comittee.

27 Jul, 2007


Thank-you for this which I found via the tips page. 2 years on I am awaiting delivery of my first council compost bin so this will be helpful. I will still use my wooden one but thought I should try this too.
I rinse my egg shells and save them all winter to put around young plants slugs hate crossing them

4 Sep, 2009


I have found that egg shells don't rot down in my bin - so I've stopped putting them in. They are no obstacle to my 'orrible big snails, either, unfortunately. :-(

5 Sep, 2009


Good luck with both methods, Drc. You haven't been waiting 2 years for the council bin have you? Ours came in weeks.

I've also read that egg shells don't break down, Spritz. Ours go in the bin. Midnight patrols with a torch is my defence against slugs & snails - not too bad with a small garden.

5 Sep, 2009


No Peter only a few weeks I thought eggshells was to add grit?

5 Sep, 2009


If you dont have easy access to horse manure you could try adding some well er um wee (there I've said it), perfectly safe and good for getting it going.

4 Dec, 2009

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