Composting provides rich nutrients which will improve your soil and help you grow healthy plants – including your own fruit and veg. It also helps to improve water quality and protect the environment. And it helps you reduce use of shop bought fertilisers, pesticides and compost which can be costly.
Our Acting Service Director - Environment & Transport, Claire Brailsford, said:
“Transforming your uncooked kitchen waste and your garden waste through the natural process of composting is a great thing to do.
It’s not difficult, time-consuming or smelly and with just a bit of know how it can be simple and a real money saver.
“I would encourage everyone to give it a go as it also helps residents to save money and protect the environment.”
Here we help dispel some of the myths and give some advice to help make your composting hassle free:
Myth: I don’t do any gardening so I’ve nothing to compost.
Fact: You can compost all sorts of things – not just garden waste. Vegetable and fruit peelings, plastic free tea bags, coffee grinds, toilet roll inners, cardboard egg boxes, old kitchen paper and even dust from your vacuum cleaner can all be composted. It doesn’t have to be garden waste!
Myth: It’s a hassle having to put stuff in the compost bin every day especially in winter
Fact: You don’t have to do it every day. If you keep a food waste caddy in your kitchen you can fill it up with things like vegetable peelings, plastic free tea bags and eggshells. Then take it out to the compost bin every three or four days and it never smells. You could also use an old ice cream tub or other container as a waste caddy.
Myth: It’s hard work and all too often it just turns to mush.
Fact: Mush is easily avoided! You just need to get an even mixture of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ – too many grass cuttings (greens) will make it mushy, too many sticks, twigs and dry leaves (browns) from the garden will mean it won’t break down. Bins placed in sunny areas will normally produce compost more quickly.
Myth: You have to turn the contents of your compost bin regularly or it won’t work
Fact: Although turning the contents regularly will speed up the composting process it isn’t crucial – it is going to happen anyway. It is more important that you get the balance of ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ right. And the good news is that there are easier ways of making sure you get enough air flow in your bin by creating a few air pockets. Materials such as scrunched-up corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes, egg boxes or cardboard tubes should do the trick.
Myth: I will get overwhelmed with compost!
Fact: The waste reduces right down as it composts so you are unlikely to produce too much. As well as digging it into your soil and using it in pots it makes a great mulch to suppress seeds and protect against drought. And in the unlikely event of finding you have too much you can always give it away to friends, family or neighbours.
Placing your compost bin
Ideally place your compost bin in a reasonably sunny spot on bare soil. This will provide the right environment for the microbes and insects that convert your waste to compost and enable the aeration and drainage which help the process along.
What to put in a compost bin
You want to get a 50/50 mix of things like veg peelings, tea bags and grass cuttings (greens) and eggshells, cardboard, dry leaves and twigs (browns).
- Veg peelings, salad leaves and fruit scraps
- Old flowers, pot plants and bedding plants
- Plastic free tea bags
- Coffee grounds and filter paper
- Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed)
- Grass cuttings
- Fine cut hedge cuttings
- Straw and hay
- Corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes, toilet roll tubes
- Scrunched up newspaper
- Shredded paper
- Used kitchen paper and paper bags
- Dry leaves, twigs and clippings
- Ash from wood, paper or lumpwood charcoal
- Bedding from vegetarian pets
- Egg shells
- Cotton wool
- Vacuum dust
Using compost in the garden
You can use it on flowerbeds by digging a 10cm layer into existing soil prior to planting or by spreading a thin layer near existing plants. Or you can use it to enrich borders by spreading a 5cm layer over existing soil, leaving gaps around soft stemmed plants.
Compost can also be used as a mulch. Spread a layer 5cm thick around plants, shrubs and trees. Just leave a gap around delicate plants so it doesn’t touch them. You can also mix with your compost with soil or leaf mould for potting plants in.
Win a compost bin
To help you get started we’re giving away three compost bins. For your chance to be one of the 3 winners, answer the following question:
About what percentage of the waste in your bin could be composted?
Send your answer by email email@example.com.
Find the answer and more composting information.
The competition is open to Derbyshire residents only. Read our full competition rules. The prizes are 330 litre compost bins but if you prefer a smaller 220 litre one please state this in your entry. The closing date is Friday 21 May 2021.
If you are not a winner, you can still benefit from special offers on compost bins.