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Look after your Soil with Compost

Composting uncooked food and garden waste at home is a great way to get a rich soil conditioner and reduce waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden.  It is natures way of recycling and helps to reduce the amount of organic waste going into landfill.

Compost is the end produce of a giant feast involving hundreds of different organisms such as bacteria, fungi, worms and insects.  These organisms break down organic matter leaving a rich earthy substance for you to spread on your flowerbeds.

The process taking place in compost bins and heaps is a replica of what happens in nature’s own recycling system on the forest floor.  Plants die, fall to the ground and decay.  They are then slowly broken down by organisms living on the floor and in the soil leaving behind a nutritious crumbly brown forest floor to feed the plants all over again.

All that is needed to create the right environment for these small creatures to do natures work is heat, moisture, air and materials.

Why should you Compost?

Traditionally, composting has been seen as something only very keen gardeners do.  It’s very easy to do though and the benefits to the environment are large.  See below for some of the main benefits:

  • Landfill produces excessive amounts of methane, dust and non chemical pollutants.  Not very good for the local residents, wildlife or plant life.
  • Methane is very flammable so there is an ongoing problem with fires on landfill sites.
  • Methane is a greenhouse gas and so contributes to global warming.

What are the Benefits to my Garden with Composting?

See below for how your garden will benefit from composting:

  • Your dustbins are less full .
  • There is less need for polluting bonfires.
  • The compost will increase plant growth and health.
  • There will be less need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Your plants will be really pleased!

If you’re interested in finding out more about composting visit the Recycle Now website.

Where can I get a Composting Bin?

Discounted compost bins are currently available for Warwickshire residents from the Second Chance Furniture Re-use Shop on Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton.  You can purchase a maximum of two discounted bins per household.  They can be contacted on 024 7632 6189.

What about a Green Cone?

The Green Cone is a food digester which must be placed in a sunny area of the garden.  The Cone takes all household food waste, including vegetable scraps, raw and cooked meat or fish, bones, dairy products, tea bags, bread and other organic kitchen waste.  It comes with a 5 litre caddy for collecting and carrying household food waste.

You can order one from Warwickshire Waste Partnership for £20 and arrange to collect it from your nearest recycling centre.  To order, contact Warwickshire County Council Waste Management on 019 2641 2593 or email waste@warwickshire.gov.uk stating which recycling centre you would like to collect your Cone from.  Payment is made by card or cheque upon collection.

So How do you Compost?

Step 1 – Placing your Bin

Site you bin on a level, well drained spot to allow excess water to drain out and make it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in.   Placing you bin in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.

Step 2 – Fill your Bin

Fill you bin with things such as vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings.  These kind of ‘green’ things are quick to rot and provide important nitrogen and moisture.  Other things that can be composted include card and cardboard (including egg boxes), scrunched up paper and fallen leaves.  These kind of ‘brown’ things are slower to rot and provide fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture.  Crushed eggshells can also be useful to add as they provide moisture.

Step 3 – Keep out the Following

Some things should never be placed in your bin such as cooked vegetables, meat, dairy products, diseased plants, and definitely no dog mess, cat litter or babies nappies.  Putting these in the bin would encourage pests and create odour.  Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistles) or weeds with seed heads.  Remember that plastics, glass and metals are not suitable for composting  and should be recycled separately.

Step 4 – Make Good Quality Compost

The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right, keeping your greens and browns properly balanced.  If your compost is too wet add more browns and if it’s too dry add some greens.  Make sure there is enough air in the mixture by, if needed, adding scrunched up cardboard or stirring the mixture.

Step 5 – Using the Compost

Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black soil like layer that you’ll find at the bottom of your bin.  It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients.  Some bins will have a small hatch at the bottom that you can remove to get at the finished product or you can lift the bin or tip it over to get at the compost.  You can then spread it onto your flowerbeds to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Sounds good?  Well don’t just sit there, get composting!