Composting without a bin
With reductions in green waste collections across the country, now is the perfect time to start composting at home, and the good news is that you don’t need to spend money on a bin. Here are some top tips on starting a compost heap for free at home from David Garrett, Head of Knowledge Transfer at charity Garden Organic.
- Consider where to put the heap; bare earth is best, in a spot that receives sunshine for at least part of the day. It doesn’t need to be a large area - just consider how much garden waste and kitchen peelings you will be producing.
- Once you’ve decided on the spot then be sure to clear it of any perennial weeds, as these could end up growing up through the compost.
- You can choose to just create a heap - or pile - of waste to add to, or you may want to contain it. This could be done with old pallets, chicken wire and stakes, or a builder’s bag, for example. Remember that at some point you will want to access the bin to get ready compost out, so don’t be tempted to build a fortress.
- It’s also important to allow some form of air flow within the heap, as without air it will begin to smell. Adding brown materials like cereal boxes and egg boxes are the best way of creating air pockets in a heap. If constructing a bin, you can keep some small gaps in the sides. They don’t need to be substantial - even just a few holes drilled through the sides can help.
- Some compost bins have a lid, but this isn’t essential. Its purpose is to keep moisture in and prevent heavy rainfall from washing nutrients out. In reality, very few nutrients will wash out and those that do will only benefit the soil immediately around the heap. If you did want to put a lid on the bin then I would suggest cardboard, or a sheet of tarpaulin, avoiding materials that are likely to contaminate the bin such as carpets.
- When filling the compost bin remember to keep to a 50/50 mix of green materials such as grass clippings and fruit and veg peelings (no cooked food), and brown materials such as egg boxes and woody prunings.
If you regularly add to your heap, you will not only be providing a sustainable way to manage your household waste, but you’ll also have fantastic nutrient-rich compost to use on your garden in around 12 months. For more information on composting at home, please visit the Garden Organic website.