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

Topical Composting

Compost kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould

Seasonal Tips


Unwelcome Guests

Leaflets to download


NO - Some things you put in your home compost bin turn quickly into compost - other stuff may take several years!

If you mix garden waste that rots down quickly, like grass mowings and faded flowers, with material, like wood shavings or conifer prunings, that may take 6 or 7 years to turn into compost, then you will have to wait for 7 years  before you can empty your bin and use the compost.

Know what makes compost quickly and what is slow to decompose - then you can separate out the slow rotters and put them in a different bin and forget about them for years.

In the autumn the garden produces a lot of big stalks and woody material that will take longer to rot than the weeds and grass you have been composting all summer. So if you want to empty your bin and use some of the compost in the spring, it will be safer to treat the woody material separately.
See Prickly Prunings  and Autumn Clearing    

Here are some examples of the length of time it takes for your garden and kitchen waste to turn in to compost

These will make compost after 1 year
Faded flowers
Annual weeds like groundsel, chickweed
Grass clippings
Vegetable peelings : carrot, onion, potato
Fruit skins : apple, banana, melon, orange
Pea and bean pods
Rhubarb leaves
Outer leaves of lettuce, cabbage, cauli
Soft, green leaves and stems from plants or a hedge

These will make compost after 2 years
Thin woody stalks
Soft cardboard like egg boxes, kitchen towel
Tough stems of herbaceous plants like delphiniums, euphorbias, verbascums
Shredded paper
Roots and stalks of perennial weeds like nettles, ground elder, buttercup
Most dead leaves

These will make compost after 3 years
Thicker woody stalks from raspberries, shrubs
Cabbage and other brassica stems
Thick cardboard
Ivy and Clematis stems
Oak and Beech leaves
Strawy pet bedding

These will make compost after 4-5 years
Shredded woody prunings
Holly leaves
Prickly stems of roses, gooseberries
Avocado skins and stones
Disposable wooden cutlery

These will make compost after 6-7 years
Conifer prunings
Egg shells
Forest bark
Sawdust based pet bedding
Bulbs like daffodils
Most seeds

If you use a New Zealand Box where all material is left to rot down for at least 2 years you can mix more stuff than you can in a small plastic bin where you want to be able to harvest some compost after a year.

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

IAlso try Zero Waste Scotland