Composting

Composting uncooked food and garden waste at home is a great way to reduce waste going to landfill and it provides you with a free soil conditioner.

Find out more about composting at home by clicking on the tabs below.

What is composting?

Compost is the end product of a giant feast involving hundreds of different organisms – bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. These organisms break down organic material leaving rich, earthy substance which is an excellent soil improver.

The process taking place in compost bins and heaps is a replica of what happens in nature’s own recycling system on the forest floor. Plants die, fall to the ground and decay. They are slowly broken down by organisms living on the floor and in the soil leaving behind a nutritious crumbly brown forest floor to feed the plants all over again.

All you need to do is create the right environment for these small creatures to natures work – heat, moisture, air and materials.

Why compost?

Traditionally, composting has been seen as something that only very keen gardeners do. However, in recent years there has been growing interest in creating compost from organic materials including food waste, due to the environmental problems caused by traditional disposal methods like landfill.

Composting as a single act has many associated environmental benefits and is easier to incorporate into a lifestyle than some other environmentally friendly acts.

Environmental benefits of composting:

  • Decomposing organic waste such as garden waste and food can lead to high methane levels when it is disposed of at landfill – methane is not only a potential fire risk but also a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming;
  • Slims your bin and reduces the amount of waste going to landfill;
  • Prevents the need for polluting bonfires;
  • Reduces the need to water your garden;
  • Increases plant growth and health;
  • Replaces the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides;
  • Replaces the need to use peat from fast-disappearing peat bogs;
  • Your plants will thank you for it!

Useful composting resources

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Master Composters

Master Composters are a group of volunteers who help raise public awareness of the benefits of composting, by encouraging more people in Warwickshire to compost at home and help those who already compost to do so more effectively.

Composting at home not only reduces the amount of organic waste going to landfill, but creates a free nutrient rich soil conditioner, ideal for digging into the vegetable patch or flower borders, using as a top dressing in tubs or even making your own potting mix.

Interested in helping to spread the composting word to others?

A one day composting workshop is all you need to do to become a composting volunteer.

Training is free and you will also receive a free Master Composter polo shirt and compost bin as a thank you.

You do not need to be a composting expert already as you will be taught all you need to know.

We are currently taking details of those interested in becoming volunteers.  If this is something that would interest you please do get in touch.  As soon as soon as further training is arranged we will let you know.

For further information and to book a place on the course, please contact:

Waste Management at Warwickshire County Council.

Telephone:

01926 412724

Email:

waste@warwickshire.gov.uk

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Compost Workshops

Warwickshire County Council is helping residents to start composting at home, with the offer of a 330 litre compost bin for just £5 for anyone attending a one hour workshop, where you will be shown how to get started with your new bin.

Further courses are planned for Spring 2017 and will be posted here nearer the time.

Offer open to Warwickshire residents only. Workshops will last for no longer than 1 hour. One £5 compost bin per household, an additional bin may be purchased for £10 each (maximum of 2 bins).  Compost bins must be collected from one of the following recycling centres or the 2nd Chance re-use shop in Nuneaton, where payment will also be taken;

  • Burton Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Cherry Orchard, Kenilworth
  • Hunters Lane, Rugby
  • Lower House Farm, Dordon, Nr Atherstone
  • Princes Drive, Leamington Spa
  • Stockton (open Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Shipston on Stour
  • Wellesbourne
  • 2nd Chance Furniture Re-use Shop, Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton, CV10 0AG

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Compost bins from £10.00

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Collection Only Option

Discounted compost bins (330 litre) are currently available to Warwickshire residents for just £10.  These can be purchased from the site office at the following recycling centres and from the 2nd Chance re-use shop in Nuneaton;

  • Burton Farm
  • Cherry Orchard
  • Hunters Lane
  • Lower House Farm
  • Princes Drive
  • Stockton (open Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Shipston on Stour
  • Wellesbourne
  • 2nd Chance Furniture Re-use Shop, Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton, CV10 0AG

Maximum of two cut price compost bins per household. Contact details will be collected and used in conjunction with this offer. Non-Warwickshire residents can purchase a maximum of two bins per household for £15 each.

Home Delivery Option

Warwickshire residents can buy compost bins for home delivery.

  • 220 litre Compost Converter – £9.99 plus delivery
    Buy One Get One Half Price (buy a second 220 litre bin for £4.99)
  • 330 litre Compost Converter – £12.99 plus delivery
    Buy One Get One Half Price (buy a second 330 litre bin for £6.49)

To buy your bin please go to www.wcc.getcomposting.com or 0844 5714444

£5.99 delivery charge per order.

Terms and conditions: Offer open to Warwickshire residents only subject to availability.

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Compost for sale from garden waste

Compost can be purchased from the re-use shops, run by Age UK Warwickshire, at the following household waste recycling centres (except Judkins in Nuneaton);

  • Burton Farm
  • Hunters Lane
  • Lower House Farm
  • Princes Drive
  • Wellesbourne

£2.99 each or 10 bags for £25.

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Buy a water butt

Warwickshire does not provide subsidised water butts to residents, however, there are many outlets where they can be purchased.

The following information gives an idea of the price of water butts but there may be alternative outlets that could be cheaper;

  • Mini Rainsaver water butt kit – 100 litres – £24.98 plus £5.99 delivery – (buy one, get second half price)
  • Rainsaver water butt kit – 190 litres – £29.98 plus £5.99 delivery – (buy one, get second half price)
  • To order by telephone, please call 0844 571 4444 or visit www.wcc.getcomposting.com

as an alternative option please visit www.evengreener.com or telephone 0845 658 5588, prices may vary.

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Buy a reduced priced Green Cone

The Warwickshire Waste Partnership is offering reduced priced Green Cones to residents. Normally priced at £92.95, you can obtain one for just £20 and arrange to collect from your nearest recycling centre or from the Shire Hall in Warwick.

What is a Green Cone?

The Green Cone is a food digester which takes all household food waste, including vegetable scraps, raw and cooked meat or fish, bones, dairy products and other organic kitchen waste, e.g. tea bags, bread etc. It comes with a 5 litre kitchen caddy for collecting and carrying household food waste and must be placed in a sunny position in the garden.

To order yours, please contact Waste Management on 01926 412593 or e-mail waste@warwickshire.gov.uk, stating which recycling centre you would like to collect from. Payment can be made by card or cheque upon collection.

*Offer available subject to availability. Offer only available to Warwickshire residents. Please allow up to 28 days for processing. One per household. Refunds cannot be given.

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Wormeries

Wormeries are able to take vegetable peelings, cooked and uncooked food, tea bags, egg-shells, paper towels, tissues, shredded card and even the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag!

Worms are easy to keep and are an extraordinarily efficient way of converting kitchen food waste into liquid plant feed and rich, organic compost. They are ideal for small gardens or balconies.

Purchase a wormery
or
0844 571 4444.

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Make your own compost

Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. It is natures way of recycling and helps to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill.

By composting kitchen and garden waste you can easily improve the quality of your soil and be well on your way to a more beautiful garden. The following easy guide to home composting will provide you with all the information needed to get the best out of your bin.

Step 1 – Placing Your Bin

It’s best to site your bin on a level, well-drained spot. This allows excess water to drain out and makes it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in and get working on breaking down the contents. Placing your bin in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.

Step 2 – Put these in

Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Good things you can compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are considered “Greens.” Greens are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Other things you can compost include card and cardboard items, including egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These are considered “Browns” and are slower to rot. They provide fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals.

Step 3 – Keep these out

Certain things should never be placed in your bin. No cooked vegetables, no meat, no dairy products, no diseased plants, and definitely no dog poo or cat litter, or baby’s nappies. Putting these in your bin can encourage unwanted pests and can also create odour. Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads. Remember that plastics, glass and metals are not suitable for composting and should be recycled separately.

Step 4 – Making good compost

The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your Greens and Browns properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more Browns. If it’s too dry, add some Greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. Air can also be added by mixing the contents. After approximately 6-9 months your finished compost will be ready.

Step 5 – Using your compost

Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer that you’ll find at the bottom of your bin. It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients. Some bins have a small hatch at the bottom that you can remove to get at the finished product, but sometimes it’s even easier to lift the bin or to tip it over to get at your compost. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. Composting is the easiest way to make your garden grow more beautiful.

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Common composting problems

Difficult to turn or extract compost from the bin

The reason for turning the compost is to ensure that sufficient air is able to assist the composting process. There is no need to undertake a major digging operation in order to ensure that this happens. All that is required is that you either make use of the compost aerator, available from most garden centres, or just twist the fork and then withdraw it.

Ants / flies / woodlice in the bin

Woodlice are beneficial to the composting process and indicate that the material is breaking down into compost. Generally, the woodlouse feeds on decaying vegetable matter. They are not a problem, since they do not usually attack growing plants.

Ants are taking up residence because the conditions in the compost bin are ideal for setting up home. One of the best ways of dealing with the is to regularly disturb the contents (see above for how to turn compost). Ants will not live in regularly disturbed soil or compost.

Flies and midges are attracted by fruit and vegetables that have been put into the bin. There are two ways to deal with them. The first is to spread a thick layer of soil on top of any fruit placed in the bin. This denies flies access to the rotting material.

One other method that I have found very successful is to place one of the sticky yellow fly traps – usually used in greenhouses – in close proximity to the compost bin. The flies are attracted to this rather than the contents of the bin and become trapped.

The compost is produced at a slower rate than expected

The length of time needed to produce compost varies with the ambient temperature and the type and size of the material in the bin. The finer the material, the faster the rate of composting. Ideally, all woody material should be chopped into pieces no longer than 5 cm in length and a smaller garden shredder is invaluable, though not essential, in processing woody material.

The bin attracts rodents

As with ants, rodents are attracted to a warm and undisturbed environment. (I assume that you are not putting cooked meat waste into the composter). By regularly disturbing the contents, the rodents are discouraged from taking up residence.

If this fails, one other tip is to spread a piece of wire netting across the soil under the compost bin. The netting should protrude at least 16 cm beyond the bin on all sides.

With some compost bins, you can purchase a plastic base which sits on the soil with the compost bin on the top. This allows drainage and access to beneficial worms and soil insects, whilst at the same time, denying access to rodents.

The compost is too dry / too wet

The end product should be quite moist. Do not expect the same consistency of material that you might find in a bag of general purpose compost purchased from a garden centre.

To dry out compost that is too wet, add dry material such as shredded paper to the bin.

If the compost is too dry, then add water, but not too much or the temperature in the bin will fall and the composting process will slow down.

The compost bin is not big enough / is too big

The bins have been specifically designed to be the optimum size for composting material as quickly as possible. If you find that you need a bigger bin I would suggest getting a second bin. Not only will you find that you have extra capacity, you will also find that it is far easier to manage two bins than one.

If you find that the bin is too large, you could always ask a neighbour if they would be kind enough to supply you with some of their garden waste. You never know, you may even find a new friend!

The lid / bin blows away in strong winds

I have found that placing a brick on top of the bin solves this problem.

Compost bin smells and attracts flies

This problem usually arises when food waste is left on top of the compost pile. Quite often this will attract fruit flies in particular. There are two methods of control, the first being to attach one of the yellow greenhouse flytraps to the underside of the compost bin lid, or position it close to the outside of the compost bin. Alternatively, sprinkle a layer of soil on top of any fruit waste that is placed in the compost bin.

Compost is a slushy mess

Two main reasons for this problem are uncovered compost allowing rain in which cools the compost rapidly and stops the composting process. The other cause is putting too much “hot” waste in altogether. The solution to these problems are to have a cover on the compost pile or bin, and to ensure an adequate mixture of “hot” waste such as grass cuttings, with “cold” waste such as prunings or even torn up paper or cardboard.

Grass cuttings

Grass cuttings must be mixed with other, bulkier materials to allow air to circulate through the grass cuttings. One of the best materials for this is torn, shredded newspaper.

Compost heap is taking forever to decompose

Try giving the contents of the bin a good mixing. If the process has stopped, this will usually get it going again. The composting process will take longer during cold weather. You can use a compost activator if you wish, but possibly the best activator of all is urine.

Rats and mice are in my compost bin.

This is caused by adding meat or fatty food waste. Meat, bones and fat should never be included in the compost bin.

Compost heap smells of ammonia

I would suggest that this may be because you are adding waste from animal bedding. Not a good idea, since some animal waste is very damaging to plants unless it is “weathered” for a long time. This condition can also occur when too much soft green waste (such as grass cuttings) is added. Try mixing with prunings, paper, leaves or straw which has been chopped.

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