Throwing garden waste into the dustbin really is a waste in the true sense of the word. In doing so you are robbing the land of nutrients and the potential of improving the structure of the soil. Composted material is also very useful as a mulch to cut down on moisture loss and weed growth.
Even local councillors such as ours in Wakefield recognise the benefits of composting and provide bins especially for the collection of garden waste.
By composting garden waste you are simply making use of a perfectly natural chemical process, decomposition. It is this process that enriches the soil in ‘the wild’. Composting bins merely speed up the process.
What to compost? Most organic material will compost and so you can add items such as paper, wood shavings and cardboard to your compost bin. Some bulky material will decompose faster if it is shredded.
For successful compost it is important not to have too much of any given material but a balanced mix. Too much grass clipping material will result in a soggy mess rather than the friable material that you wish to produce. Compost material is classified as green or brown. Green material is soft plant material such as grass clipping, annual weeds, soft shrub or hedge clipping, dead flowers and vegetable waste This is rich in nitrogen. Brown is dry material such as cardboard, dry twiggy prunings and straw, It is rich in carbon. Ideally a heap should contain green and brown material in roughly equal quantities.
Diseased plant material, cooked food and meat products should not be composted. Neither should material that has been treated with weed killer.
Composting material also benefits from being turned periodically. This aerates the material. Some composters can be rotated to achieve this with others it will be a case of emptying the bin and refilling.
Types of compost heap The type of compost heap or bin you need will be very much dependent on how much compost you generate and also where the bin is to be sited. On our allotment plot our compost heap is just a series of bays made from old fence panels and wooden pallets.
This type of compost bin would not be suitable if it was to be sited in our garden. As most of our compostable waste is taken to the allotment we have no need for a compost storage area in the garden.
Plastic Bins It may be worth enquiring whether your local council provide these at a discounted cost.
Compost Tumblers Compost Tumblers claim to speed up the composting process. The idea is that by spinning the tumbler very frequently you aerate the ‘heap’ and so the bacteria works quicker at breaking down the contents. I’ve no idea if this is true as I have no experience of tumblers.
Tumblers come is various shapes and sizes for example: