Photo 12712743 | Compost © Melinda Fawver |

Compost worming its way in


Definition – ‘a mixture of decayed or decaying organic matter used to fertilise soil’.

Note its true definition is to add to soil, not referring to the bags of growing medium we buy at our garden centres as multipurpose compost, although they too contain decayed organic matter.  So for purpose of clarity, I shall use the term home or garden compost(ing) for the means of generating our own compost, from which we can make our own growing media and mulches. It sounds more complicated than it is; it just takes a little effort and patience.

 Why home compost?

Adding garden compost to our vegetable and flower beds is the most natural cost effective way of improving the soil. It contributes to the environment by diverting garden and kitchen waste from local authority recycling schemes. During the decomposition process all the beneficial organisms break down the organic matter which continues once added to the ground, adding healthy structure and vitality to the soil. We are not bringing in potential pests and diseases by importing manures and other soil improvers. And best of all it’s free!

Home compost bins come in all shapes and sizes, you could just have a heap in the corner, a bokashi bucket in the kitchen or invest in a hot bin as I did if space is restricted (more of that comparing types in a later blog). Most important is what is put in or on it. A mix of 50:50 green to brown waste seems to works best.

 Green compostables Brown compostables
Annual weeds Autumn leaves *
Brussel sprout stalk, chopped
Cardboard, torn or shredded
Bracken Corn and potato starch bags
Carrot tops Cork
Coffee grounds Cotton wool
Cut flowers Egg boxes and shells, crushed
Discarded bedding & house plants Evergreen hedge cuttings
Fruit peelings, pip, pulp Hair and fur
Grass mowings Nut shells
Hay  Paper bags, shredded
Hedge clippings Sawdust
Nettles Straw
Plant debris Sweetcorn cobs
Rhubarb leaves Tea leaves
Seaweed Tomato plants
Soft prunings Vacuum cleaner contents
Vegetable peelings Wood ash



Bones, cigarette ends, cooked food scraps (meat, fish, dairy etc), fat or oil, bread, soiled tissues and nappies, tea bags, ash from the BBQ or coal fire, perennial weed roots and seed heads, plants that have been treated with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides), dog faeces or cat litter.

 *Whilst adding a few to your heap can be beneficial, most leaves are slow to break down and are best composted on their own as ‘leaf mould’. Shredding them with a lawnmower before storing wet leaves in pierced black bin bags produces crumbly leaf mould in a year or two. Use to make homemade seed compost

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