The Home Composter

How to Compost

Compost safely

Your compost ingredients

Empty your compost bin

To turn or not to turn?

How long to compost?

Worms & Wormeries

Seasonal Tips

Compost kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould


Leaflets to download

Late winter compost binsIn late winter our home compost bins can be full because they have not rotted down much for weeks. Yet dead and decaying plants are emerging from the frost and snow and there are broken branches everywhere. What can we do with it all?

The first thing to do is to see if you can make some space in your home compost bin by emptying out any finished compost there may be at the bottom. The technique for harvesting this compost varies from bin to bin see Emptying Your Compost Bin for details.
If your bin has a hatch at the bottom you can use this to have a look and see if the stuff at the bottom looks usable. If it does, lift the whole bin off the heap, fork back into the empty bin all the material that has not rotted down until you get to the usable compost. Put this compost into a plastic sack and store it in a shed or a corner of the garden until you are ready to use it in the spring.
By doing this you have also turned your compost heap which will help it to start working again.

If you cannot make any more space in your home compost bin why not get another one?
A New Zealand Box type is easy to make and while the traditional size is 1 metre square they can be as small as half a metre square or as big as 2 metres square. See our leaflet Making a New Zealand Box for instructions.

Branches, twigs and woody stuff are always difficult to deal with. Unless you can shred them they will take a long time to rot down and still be little twigs when everything else in the heap is ready to use.
However you can recycle some as plant supports: would that twiggy branch help to prop up the catmint and stop it flopping all over the path? Could you tie a tomato plant to that straight stick? Climbing plants like sweet peas, eating peas, cucumbers and nasturtiums all prefer the rough bark of sticks and twigs from the garden rather than smooth bamboo.
See dealing with woody prunings for more details.

You can also make a dead hedge : somewhere you can put all those awkward to deal with things like rose prunings, clematis and ivy. Leave them, contained, in an out of the way corner to slowly rot down. See our leaflet on Making a Dead Hedge for full instructions.

If you have mostly kitchen green waste to compost see how to deal with this Kitchen Waste and if your Christmas tree is still by the back door have a look at Recycle your Christmas tree

Spring will come one day, the garden will grow and your compost will be a pleasure to use!

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