Over 40% of the contents of an average UK household bin can be home composted, yet many people are still binning this fantastic resource. Find out ways to use your waste food and garden waste.
Composting also keeps food scraps out of the waste bin, leaving your kitchen smelling nicer, and reduces incidents of seagulls and foxes ripping up bin bags while searching for food.
If you have a garden or outside space where you can grow food or decorative plants, homemade compost can give your plants an extra boost. If you have no outside space at all, visit the community composting page to join a scheme in your area.
Choose the best bin for you
If you have some open garden space and just want to compost your raw, meat-free scraps, a simple compost bin is perfect for you. The standard bin size is perfect for a household of four.
If you have a patio or a tiled garden, choose a wormery, which requires no access to open soil. The added benefits of a wormery are that the finished compost is better suited for growing plants in containers.
If you are looking to compost any and all kitchen waste, including meat bones and cooked food leftovers, a ‘green johanna’ will take care of it all and break down the contents much quicker than a standard bin.
Brighton & Hove City Council have information on types of bins, and you can also order a subsidised bin or wormery. It will come with everything you need to get started, you just need to supply the food scraps.
Can I compost if I don’t have outside space?
Yes! In addition to our Community Composting scheme, there are options to purchase subsidised indoor wormeries, which are small enough to fit in any kitchen. There is a solution for each and every household.
My compost bin is smelly and full of flies, what should I do?
Squidgy smelly compost is due to putting in too much fast rotting material (like veg peels) and not enough slow-rotting material, such as card, paper and garden waste. Make sure to add 50% of each. You can mix in a bunch of ripped up card or shredded paper for a quick remedy, and keep a layer of card on top of the heap to deter flies.
My compost is not breaking down at all. Why is this?
Sometimes compost takes a year or longer to break down. This happens more if it’s too dry or never turned. Additionally, the more you add to the heap, the quicker it breaks down, so make sure to add to it whenever you need to and turn regularly.
Why can’t I put bread and animal products into my compost bin?
The main reason is to avoid attracting pests like mice or rats, who are much less interested in squidgy veg peelings. Additionally, decaying meat contains pathogens which may be harmful to your health, so it’s best to avoid these in a standard composter.
My compost bin had rodents in it despite avoiding cooked food and meat. What should I do?
Sometimes, especially in the colder months, rodents might use your compost bin as a nest. You can make the environment inhospitable for them by making sure the compost stays wet and turning it regularly. Alternatively, you can switch to a wormery or Green Johanna if your area is prone to pests. Don’t give up!
Can I compost weeds?
Composting weeds is possible with precautions. Young weeds that have not gone to seed are safe. Weeds that have gone to seed can only be composted if yours is a hot composter. Weeds such as bindweed or ground elder (and any weed that spreads by runners) should never be added fresh to the compost bin. You can add them at a later point if they have been drowned (left to ferment in a bucket of water for 2 months) or baked dry in the sun first.
Can I place a compost bin on a patio?
Not really. Compost bins need to be placed on top of soil ideally. This allows insects and other compost-dwelling animals to get in and do their work. Also, this allows the compost to drain into the soil without making a mess of your patio. You can either remove a few tiles to create a space for your bin, or keep it simple and get a wormery.
Can a wormery take everything?
No. It is best to keep meat bones out of a wormery to avoid harmful pathogens, as well as acidic citrus and onion peels, which are harmful to the worms because of the enclosed nature of the wormery.
My worms have died, what do I do?
Sometimes worms can perish inside a wormery. This could be due to the wormery not getting drained regularly, or the worms not getting enough food. Make sure to feed and drain the wormery regularly. If you need new worms you can always get some from someone else’s wormery or compost bin to restart your colony.
What can I do with my wormery in winter?
Cold weather slows the worms down, so you may not be able to add as much food waste in the winter months. You can keep your worms warmer and more active by placing the wormery in your shed or garage, or against a south-facing wall where it will get more sunlight. Some people wrap their wormeries in bubble wrap, or an old duvet cover. Check out some more tips to keep them warm in winter.