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A Guide to Composting

Guide to composting

Home composting is a great way to turn your garden into a nutrient-rich haven for plants.

Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a dark, nutrient-rich substance that can be used to fertilize your garden. It’s easy and simple, but it does require a little bit of work on your part.

Getting started

You can start by gathering some leaves or other organic matter like grass clippings. Next, layer them with soil or straw to create what’s called a compost pile. The heat from decomposing organic material will help speed up the process and make it easier for you to turn your garden into a nutrient-rich haven for plants. However, we recommend using a compost bin for the best results. This method keeps the material neat and tidy while retaining moisture and heat, both of which are necessary for composting.

If you have plenty of outdoor space and are spoilt for choice, consider placing your compost bins somewhere with a consistent temperature so the fungi and bacteria can work consistently. The warmer the location, the faster the compost will break down; however, avoid placing your bin near a shed, fences, or buildings.

Your compost bin should have an open base, a lid to keep heat in, and a bottom door for compost removal. A soil base allows drainage and ensures worms and other beneficial invertebrates can make their way into the compost, speeding up the process.

The ingredients

The organic materials that go into your bin are classified as 'greens' or 'browns.' Greens are wet, nitrogen-rich materials, whereas browns are dry, carbon-rich materials. To make compost, you'll need a combination of these.

Always begin with a generous layer of brown matter and then alternate the layers of greens and browns. Always cover any greens with a generous layer of browns to prevent odours and repel pests. Use the checklist below to make the most of your heap.

Tip: The smaller the material you break down, the faster it will compost.

What to compost


  • Coffee grounds

  • Eggshells

  • Fruit and veggie scraps

  • Grass cuttings

  • Fresh weeds

  • Fresh leaves

  • Garden prunings


  • Dry leaves

  • Twigs/branches

  • Straw/hay

  • Sawdust/wood shavings

  • Shredded paper/cardboard

What not to compost

  • Cooked food

  • Citrus peel

  • Meat

  • Dairy products

  • Dog/cat waste

  • Diseased plants

  • Glossy magazines

  • Large branches (unless you break them down beforehand)

Maintaining your pile

After you've added food scraps or garden waste to your pile, cover it with a layer of brown matter. If you don't add enough browns, your compost will be too wet and will decompose more slowly. When autumn arrives, bag up all the crunchy leaves so you can use them in your compost all year.

Turning your compost pile on a regular basis ensures that you get the most out of your pile as quickly as possible. Expert composters believe that regular mixing and aeration are essential steps in the composting process. This is easily accomplished with a compost aerator. If you have a triple compost bin, you can easily achieve this by turning the compost from one bin into the next.

Hot composting

A hot bin composter, on the other hand, can produce crumbly brown compost in a matter of weeks. Unlike traditional cold composting heaps, the hotter temperatures produced by a hot bin provide the necessary environment for breaking down a wider variety of waste. You can add cooked leftover food, fish, meat, chicken bones, and dog waste in addition to grass clippings.

Using your finished compost

Before spreading your new compost across your garden, you need to make sure it is ready to use. Mature compost should be a dark, rich colour with a crumbly and smooth texture. It should also have a sweet, earthy fragrance.

Once you’re confident it’s ready… consider using your wonderful new compost for the following:

  • Feed your bulbs

  • Top dress beds

  • Use as mulch

  • Enrich new borders

  • Feed your lawn

  • Store it until you need it


Why compost?

Composting is a low-cost, natural process that converts kitchen and garden waste into valuable, nutrient-rich food for your garden. It's simple to make and use.

To reduce your impact on the environment

There are numerous reasons to compost. It saves money, resources, can help improve your soil, and can reduce your environmental impact.

According to research, nearly half of the food waste in the average garbage can could have been composted. Composting your food and garden waste at home can help to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill or other more expensive forms of treatment.

To enrich your soil and feed your plants

Compost is a nutrient-rich food product for your garden that will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and maintain the pH balance of your soil while suppressing plant disease.

It will provide all of the nutrients your plants require, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and it will help buffer soils that are extremely acidic or alkaline.

Compost improves the condition of your soil, and your plants and flowers will appreciate it!

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