Composting from Start to Finish; Although you can start to compost at home at any time during the year, it's best to start from spring to early autumn, when the weather is milder and when there is more garden waste available. Once your home composter is up and running it will be fine to continue to use it through the winter. Collect your kitchen waste in a container such as an old ice cream tub or one of our kitchen caddies to empty into your compost bin and add your garden waste as and when it is produced.
Where to place your bin? Your compost bin will work the best when it's placed in a sunny spot on bare soil. It doesn't matter if it's in a shady spot, but it will take longer for your compost to develop. It’s best to place your bin on levelled ground where any excess water can drain away easily. Choosing a spot where you can easily get to your compost bin will make it easier to add to it regularly and to get the finished compost out.
It's possible to put your compost bin on concrete, tarmac or patio slabs, but it is a good idea to place a layer of soil, compost, manure or newspaper and card on the bottom so that worms and other creatures can be attracted to the compost. Siting a compost bin on decking is not recommended as any liquids draining from it may stain. The only solution would be to build a raised bed on top of the deck.
What goes in? The key to making good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your 'green' and 'brown' materials properly balanced. Recyclenow have a great list of what can go into your compost. If your compost is too wet, add more browns. If it's too dry, add some greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. This can be achieved by turning the contents with a garden fork or adding scrunched-up paper or card. If you are using a 'standard' home composting bin or compost heap, meat, fish, bones or cooked food cannot be put into your compost.
Using your compost; After 6-9 months your compost should be ready to use! It should be dark brown and crumbly. It should also smell earthy. Don't worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells - this is normal. Lift the bin slightly or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost with a garden fork, spade or trowel.
Use it to enrich borders and vegetable patches, plant up patio containers or feed the lawn.
Although there’s no right or wrong time to empty the contents of your compost bin, either to store separately or to use on your garden, removing the compost before it builds up too much will both avoid creating a habitat for unwanted animals that may like to burrow into your compost and will also ensure the microorganisms in your bin are best placed to focus their efforts on producing new compost. You can bag up your compost until it's needed - just make sure you leave some of the old material in the bottom of your compost bin as it contains all the useful micro organisms that are needed to get the process going again.
Home compost can be used as a soil improver on all types of plant beds where plants are grown including vegetables, flowers and ornamental shrubs. Although your home compost will be very nutritious, it is too strong for bringing on young plants. It is best to mix it with other materials to make potting compost.
Need a Bin? To encourage residents to get composting, Coventry City Council has teamed up with Getcomposting.com to offer home compost bins at special offer prices from only £18.50. There is also a buy one get one half price offer to purchase a second bin from only £9.25, a massive saving! Getcomposting have exclusive offers on a range of other great green products, including special offer water butts with buy one get one half price and a selection of gardening accessories. To see what’s available in your area visit www.getcomposting.com or call 0844 571 4444.