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Making your own organic compost

You dont really need a bin to ake your own compost – you can just have a pile/heap and cover it over with some plastic or cardboard. However, bins are neater and much easier to manage and control. A bin is not as unsightly as a pile of moulding mulch. Why not build your own, or get one cheaply from your local council – contact the Waste and Recycling Department.

An ideal compost bin should : have no gaps in the sides and could be lined with straw or cardboard, be easily accessible, be covered, in a half shaded location and away from water courses. Oh and be on earth, NOT concrete or slabs.

Compost or Not?

Anything that lived will compost, but avoid some items, see below. Use a mixture of types of ingredient. A rough guide is to use equal amounts of green and brown items (again see below). Grass mowings and soft young weeds, rot quickly. They work as ′activators′, to get the composting process started, but these on their own will just decay into a smelly mess. Older and tougher plant material is slower to rot but gives body to the finished compost - and usually makes up the bulk of a compost heap. Woody items decay very slowly; they are best chopped or shredded first, where appropriate.

Do′s and dont′s on ingredients.

Green ingredients

Urine (diluted with water 20:1)
Comfrey leaves
Grass cuttings
Young green weed growth – avoid weeds with seeds
Raw vegetable peelings from your kitchen
Tea bags and leaves, coffee grounds
Soft green prunings
Animal manure from herbivores eg cows and horses
Poultry manure and bedding

Brown ingredients - slow to rot

Cardboard eg. cereal packets and egg boxes
Waste paper and junk mail, including shredded confidential waste
Cardboard tubes
Glossy magazines
Old bedding plants
Newspaper – if you dont recycle them, gone are the days of taking old newspapers to the chip shop!
Bedding from vegetarian pets
Tough hedge clippings
Wood shavings
Fallen leaves can be composted but the best use of them is to make leafmould

Other compost items

Natural fibres
Wood ash, in moderation
Hair, nail clippings
Egg shells (crushed)

Do NOT compost

Disposable nappies
Cooked food
Coal & coke ash
Cat litter
Dog faeces