Compost bins are an easy way to reduce the amount of household waste being sent unnecessarily to landfill, while also creating a nutrient-rich by-product which will provide the perfect conditions for plants in your garden to thrive.
Household food waste sent to landfill cannot break down in the necessary aerated environment, creating the harmful greenhouse gas, methane, as a result. In a compost bin, oxygen is allowed to freely circulate, reducing the release of this harmful gas and creating usable compost for your garden in a mere 6 to 12 months.
Try vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, grass, leaves, and plant clippings. You can also add newspaper, soft cardboard egg boxes, and crushed washed egg shells. You can even compost the dust from your vacuum cleaner!
Avoid animal matter such as meat and bones, greasy foods or dairy, and cat or dog faeces - particularly important to refrain from if the compost will be used on a vegetable patch, as this will make it unsafe for consumption.
Resist the temptation to put anything pesticide treated, or any weeds in the compost bin, as the seeds of these may then grow into new weeds. The same can be said for roots, which may grow into a new plant.
Diseased plants can cause the spread of pathogens that will be harmful to plants this resulting compost is used on.
It's best to avoid putting in any animal matter to the compost - avoid meat, bones, grease and dairy, as these will attract rodents, as well as bad odours. Ensure the outside of your compost bin is kept clean, and make sure the lid is always closed securely. Make sure to cover food scraps with a layer of dry brown matter, such as grass clippings, leaves, or straw.
Make sure to cut your compost material into small pieces where possible, as this will ensure that it will be able to break down more easily.
Try to find a balance between "brown" and "green" waste - that is, follow a layer of food scraps with a layer of leaves, etc. This can help to cut down on bad odours, and maintains a good nitrogen/carbon balance.
You can promote decomposition by aerating or turning your compost. Why not try the handy Primrose Compost Aerator, which allows you to periodically add oxygen to your compost to create warmth (very useful in the composting process!), prevent the compost compacting together, and avoid foul odours.
When your compost is ready to use, it will be a dark brown or even black colour, with a soft, crumbly texture and a rich earthy scent.