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Composting at home is a really beneficial activity. It’s also inexpensive, and low-maintenance. Here’s how to get started.

Benefits of composting

Rich soil which is beneficial for your lawn

Create your own natural fertiliser

Composted soil can reduce pest problems

Good for the


A natural alternative to using chemicals

Composting creates free soil

Reduces landfill waste

Get rid of waste in a practical way

Purchasing a bin

There are a few different types of compost bins, plastic ones, wooden ones and tumblers.

The first thing to establish is where you want the bin to be placed in your garden. You want it to be in a sunny, or partially shaded area as the sun will help with the composting.

Plastic bins

You can buy a plastic compost bin from your local garden centre, and some councils even offer them at discounted prices so contact them in the first instance.

I love plastic compost bins because you can put the materials in the top and there is a hatch at the bottom that enables you to get compost from underneath, as the rest continues to decay.

There are two ways to structure a plastic compost bin. You can either place it directly on the grass/soil, with no base, and this will encourage worms in underneath and assist with the speed of composting.

The problem with this is that it will also encourage rodents in, so if you do want to place it on the soil, get a fine mesh to place under it, this will allow worms through but keep the rodents from getting in!

If you choose to buy a base for your compost bin, this means you can place the bin wherever you want. You’ll also be able to move it around much easier and will keep all the animals firmly out.

Wooden bins

Wooden compost bins are square with no lids and slatted slides to keep air circulation at a maximum. These bins require tarpaulin or some sort of cover to keep the rain out so make sure you’re prepared for that.

Wooden bins can also get quite smelly, so I wouldn’t recommend having it too close to the house. The mulch in these needs to be fully composted before you can use it, which is a big disadvantage if you want to use your compost all the year through.

Tumbler bins

A tumbler bin is a cylinder bin that either sits on the floor or on a central axle that you rotate to speed up the compost process. Generally, a compost tumbler composts material down in around three months, but it’ll need to be pretty much full to set it off, and once it’s started, you can’t add any more to it.

Tumblers are a good space saving choice, but if you want to continually add to the compost, I’d recommend a plastic one instead.

Making compost

As you’re tidying up your garden this autumn and preparing it for winter  you’ll probably find you have a lot of materials that you can chuck in the compost bin. You’ll also find all those leftover food scraps from Christmas need to go somewhere!

However, this is not always the case. Some materials can’t be composted at all, and people will often just chuck anything in their compost bin, hoping it’ll mulch down, only to end up with a bit of a mess at the end of it.

Likewise; there are also lots of things that you may not realise you can put in your compost bin so here’s my list of what you should and shouldn’t be composting.

What can I compost?

Coffee grounds and filter paper

Corn cobs

Corrugated cardboard and paper

Crushed egg shells

Egg and cereal boxes


Fruit scraps

Garden prunes

Grass cuttings

Old flowers, nettles, leaves

Salad leaves

Sawdust, wood chippings

Shredded paper


Tea leaves

Tissues, paper towels

Toilet and kitchen roll tubes

Vacuum bag contents (if it’s general dust)

Vegetable peelings

Do not compost


Putting any of the following in your compost bin can attract unwanted pests, create bad odours and make your current composted materials unusable.

Babies nappiescookedveg


Cat litter

Cooked vegetables

Dairy products

Diseased plants

Dog poo

Invasive weeds and grasses



Walnuts release a chemical that is toxic to other vegetable and plants so don’t compost these as you don’t want these chemicals in your soil! 

Make sure you put a good mix of materials in to give your compost the best chance of creating some really nutritious soil. It takes nine-twelve months for compost to become ready to use, so be prepared to wait a while! You will know it’s ready when it’s a crumbly and dark material that smells earthy and fresh.

Check out my full guide to compost to print and keep!

Remember – gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out my blog on ten ways to save money gardening.

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