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Where can I find answers to common questions?

Person adding food waste to composter

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Below are the answers to some of your questions / concerns about home composting.

I don’t have any compost at the bottom of my bin.  Why could this be?
It can take between six months and two years for compost to be ready to use. 

You can help things along by making sure you add a good balance of 'greens' and 'browns' into your compost bin so that the composting process works efficiently.  You will know when the compost is ready as mature compost will be a dark brown colour, have a crumbly soil-like texture and should smell similar to a damp woodland.

How do I use the compost that I make in my bin?
Your compost bin will make compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.  You can add it directly to your garden beds and boarders, which you can fork into the soil or leave it on the surface as a mulch.  It will work gradually to improve the nutrient content and overall structure of the soil and should lead to healthier plants!

If you want to make a general purpose potting soil that is suitable for growing most vegetables, then it’s recommended that you mix two parts compost to one part sieved garden soil.  For potting soil suitable for containers and window boxes combine two parts soil to one part compost and one part sharp sand.

What shouldn’t I put in my bin?
Avoid putting meat, dairy products and cooked vegetables in your bin as this can encourage unwanted pests and create odours.  It’s also recommended that you avoid composting perennial weeds and diseased plants.

Why does my bin smell?

Your compost bin shouldn’t smell unpleasant.  If you find that it does it may mean that it contains too much ‘green’ material and lacks air.  This can easily be fixed! First of all you can try turning the compost with a garden fork to add more air into the mix.  Next, try adding more ‘brown’ materials like bits of cardboard, scrunched up newspaper, hedge trimmings or twigs. Mix this new material in and that should do the trick.

Will my compost bin attract rats?
It’s very unlikely that your compost bin will attract rats.  If you add meat or fish to your bin then you may find this could attract rats and so avoid including them.  If you place your compost bin in a very secluded part of your garden this may make it a tempting place for rats and so position your bin in a place where it will be disturbed on a regular basis.  If you are worried about rats getting in your bin then you could use a compost bin base, you could turn the compost regularly with a garden fork and you could visit the bin frequently to disturb the area.

Why do I get a lot of ants in my bin?
Ants are a common creature of the composting process and won’t do your compost any harm. A lot of ants in your compost bin may mean, however, that the mix is too dry. Try adding cold water to the compost bin and ensure that enough 'green' materials, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, are being added regularly.

I’m getting fruits flies in my compost bin.  What should I do?
Fruit flies are very common and harmless. If you want to prevent them in your bin then try covering materials waiting to be composted with newspaper or a lid. Add soil, cardboard or grass clippings to your compost bin or try leaving the compost bin lid off overnight.

I don’t have space for a large compost bin, are there any alternatives?
GetComposting.com is able to offer a number of smaller bins that can be used for home composting, including wormeries and Bokashi system.

Find out more about home composting

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