HOW TO GET THE RIGHT COMPOST MIX
Living microscopic organisms break down the materials we compost by feeding on them. These microbes include bacteria and other very small organisms. In order to live, microbes need food, air, moisture and warmth – just like you and me!
The key to making good compost is to use a balance of different types of materials. Young, wet, sappy materials, like grass cuttings and vegetable peelings, rot quickly and are known as ‘greens’. Greens need to be mixed with tougher, dry items like old bedding plants and cardboard; known as ‘browns’. Browns add structure to the compost allowing air in and providing the microbes with a balanced diet.
Aim for a 50/50 mix of both wet greens and dry browns. For example, for every handful of fruit and vegetable peelings you add, match it with a handful of scrunched up paper and cardboard packaging (e.g. egg boxes).
Tip: If your compost heap tends to be wet & smelly, add more browns; if it is dry, add some greens.
The microbes that make the best compost need air to live. It is important to allow air into the bin to aid composting. This can be done in a variety of ways:
• Add scrunched up paper, cardboard egg boxes or loo roll tubes to ensure air pockets
• Stick a broom handle or aerator stick as far into the compost as possible and give it a good wiggle!
• Dig your compost over using a garden fork (if you use a compost bin please make sure you have good access to the material before you do this)
If you have the right balance of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ you should have the correct amount of moisture. However, if it is too dry add some more greens, and if it is too wet add some more browns. For a quick fix you can add moisture with a watering can (SEE FACTSHEET 2).
Microbes need warmth to thrive, so siting your bin in partial sun and keeping the compost covered will ensure plenty of warmth.
Half full bins:
If the bin is quite empty lay some flattened cardboard over the top. This will keep heat in. You can keep adding waste on top of it as it will rot down as well.
WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR COMPOST BIN:
Don’t forget – microbes need a balanced diet just like you and me! So don’t put in too much of one thing!
Fruit scraps (inc citrus peel)
Cardboard egg boxes
Loo roll tubes
Newspaper (scrunched up)
Straw & hay
Spent bedding plants
Young annual weeds
WHAT NOT TO PUT IN YOUR COMPOST BIN:
Cat & dog faeces
Coal & coke ash
Meat & fish