The Home Composter

How to Compost

Compost safely

Which bin to choose?

Your Compost Ingredients

Empty your compost bin

To turn or not to turn?

How long to compost?

Worms & Wormeries

Topical Composting

Compost kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould

Seasonal Tips


Advice sheets

Unwelcome Guests


Now that autumn is here and we are clearing the spent growth of summer from the garden our home compost bins are bulging.

Here are some tips to help you fit a quart into a pint pot!

Big mounds of loose material like pea or sweet pea vines take up a lot of space. Reduce their volume by chopping them up. The easiest way to do this is to spread them roughly on the grass and gently and carefully lower, then run a rotary mower over them. You may need to go back and forward a few times to get all the bits picked up.

Autumn shredding
Many herbaceous plants like delphiniums, asters and lupins develop quite woody stems and these take a long time to rot down in a compost bin. To speed up the decomposition chop them into small pieces or use a rotary mower on them. If you have a shredder you can put them through this and your compost wonít have any large woody bits in it.

When cutting back shrubs or trees take a look at the branches you have cut off Ė could you use them for plant supports next year?
Would those bigger stems and branches be usable as kindling for an open fire or a barbecue? Could you keep the midges away by burning them in a cheminia?

When pulling out annual plants donít shake all the soil off the roots. The billions of micro-organisms in the soil will do the composting work for you and make the contents of your bin rot down faster. This soil will do a much better job than any expensive compost activator.

Add extra grass mowings to your home compost bin: the heat they generate will speed up the decomposition of the tougher stuff in your compost bin. They also help keep
 the contents of your bin moist; the stalky stuff you are putting in is quite dry and a dry bin stops working. However if you are using a selective herbicide or moss killer on your lawn you should not compost the mowings for at least three cuts after application. The herbicide kills the micro-organisms in your home compost bin so nothing will rot down.

If your home compost bin is full donít be tempted to ram everything down really hard, leaving no air in the middle of the heap. Composting micro-organisms in the centre of the bin need air to breathe. Let the weight of the material and the decomposition reduce the level to make more space. In the meantime, make a neat pile of surplus material beside your home compost bin or get another compost bin. You could make yourself a New Zealand Box.
If you think there might be compost ready at the bottom of your home compost bin, empty the bin and store the compost in plastic sacks until you are ready to use it in the spring. The turning that you will have done speeds up the composting process and the contents of your home compost bin will shrink down all the faster.

Autumn clearing can be reused and recycled.

Composting problem?
 Contact us if you would like us to answer your query. We'll try to give a helpful answer!

This page is sponsored by Scottish Borders Councilsbc logo

More information about recycling can be found on :
 Scottish Borders Council Reduce Reuse Recyclewaste aware logo