Composting at home
Waste minimisation at home
Did you know that 80% of what you throw out can be recycled and half of that can be composted?
When compostable material breaks down in landfill, methane (a harmful greenhouse gas) is produced. A toxic liquid called leachate is also produced which can leak into the ground and contaminate underground water systems.
There are several different ways of composting at home: using one of the home composting methods, or putting your garden and food waste in the brown-lidded bin (if you are on this service: please check the postcode finder) and then having the contents collected by the Council.
Compost can be used as an efficient soil improver or mulch. Plants are healthier if they are grown in soil which has been enriched with compost - they are less susceptible to attacks by pests and diseases. Soil-borne pests and diseases are also reduced, soil fertility is increased and the soil's structure is improved.
Materials you can compost
Do not put the following
in your compost bin:
Paper (scrunched up)
|Fruit scraps & vegetable peelings|
Cardboard (ie., egg box, toilet roll tubes )
Raw meat & fish (including bones)*
|Garden & house plants|
Straw & Hay
Coal or coke ash (small amount of wood ash is ok)
|Tea leaves/bags & coffee grounds|
The contents of your vacuum cleaner
Cat or dog waste
|Young annual weeds|
Vegetarian pet bedding (i.e., rabbits)
Nappies, glass, plastic or metal
Remember that weeds are necessary for soil fertility. A guide has been prepared [194Kb] which shows examples of important minerals that can be sourced from weeds, as well as how to treat the weeds that you dig up in your garden.
* Cooked food, meat, fish and bones are fine in Green Cones, Green Johannas and Bokashi Units.
Applying to Soil
Compost should be applied to your soil in the spring and summer so your plants will get the benefit of the nutrients during the growing season.
Roughly, use one wheelbarrow full of compost per five square metres. This should supply enough nutrients for one season.
Compost can be either dug into the top 15-20 cms of soil (no deeper) or left on the surface to act as a mulch (make sure the soil is moist before doing this). It can be spread over soil surrounding established plants.
For use with shrubs:
For most shrubs a mulch of compost applied every three years is sufficient, however, roses and other shrubs that are pruned hard each year, a more regular feed of compost may be required.
For use with bedding plants:
If the soil is already in good condition, adding compost to the soil is unnecessary as too many nutrients can encourage leafy growth in bedding plants, at the expense of flowers.
For use on lawns:
Sifted compost can be applied thinly as a top dressing to lawns in spring or summer.
For use in tubs and planters:
A layer of compost can added to the surface of pots and tubs in the spring.
For use in a vegetable patch:
As vegetables like a rich soil, it is important to add compost to your vegetable garden every year. This will add the necessary nutrients to the soil and help to improve the soil structure.
For use on fruit plants:
For blackcurrants and raspberries, mulch with compost every three years. For other fruit bushes and trees, mulch with compost every four to five years. When planting strawberries, enrich the soil with compost beforehand.
Applying to Herbaceous borders
Mulch with compost every three years.
Using as Potting compost:
As garden compost is so rich, it must be diluted before using it as a potting compost for raising seedlings. Use one part (by volume) of compost with one part of loam/good soil and one part leaf mould or coir.
Making Compost tea:
A compost infusion sprayed onto plants that are being attacked by pests or diseases can benefit plants and prevent diseases from spreading.
- Take mature compost, fill a bucket with one part compost to five parts water.
- Stir, cover and leave to ferment for 10 days.
- Then, strain into another bucket, leave to settle and then spray the liquid onto affected plants.
This can be repeated after two or three weeks. Crops that have been treated with compost tea should be washed before consuming and it should not be used on leafy vegetables that are to be eaten raw.