How to compost

Composting safely

Which bin to choose?

Your compost ingredients

Emptying your bin

To Turn or not to Turn?

How long to compost?

Worms and Wormeries

Seasonal Tips

Kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould


Advice sheets

Unwelcome Guests

Topical Composting

You want to empty your Compostabin when:-
  it is full and the contents have stopped shrinking down so that you canít get  any more compostable material in or you want to use some of the compost that is ready at the bottom

More tips in Is My Compost Ready?

You can empty your bin twice a year in the late spring and in the autumn but once a year, preferably spring, will do fine.

To find out whether there is made compost at the bottom you will need to lift up a Compostabin and have a look. The bin is designed so that when you lift it up the contents stay together in a neat pile. THEY DO NOT FALL APART. The bin is not heavy but may be slightly wedged by the weight of compost inside so give it a gentle wriggle if it will not lift up easily.

lifting compostabinP
lastic composters without a hatch
These bins can be hard to get hold of now, but are the simplest and best units to use. Simply lift the bin up and off the heap. This will stay together neatly, itís like turning out a sandcastle. Put the empty bin beside the heap and fork back into it the material that hasnít rotted down. By turning the compost over like this, you mix in air and this speeds up the composting process. You then shovel up the finished compost from the bottom of the original heap.
You should do this once a year in the spring.

Plastic bins with a hatch

These are now the most widely available bins. You are invited to remove the hatch and shovel up the compost thatís ready. But when youíve removed some compost, youíll find that the resulting hole is immediately filled with material that isnít yet ready for use. You will also find it hard to remove all the compost at the bottom of the bin as your shovel probably wonít reach the far corners. If the bin is no larger than 330 litres, we recommend removing the bin from its pile as described for a bin without a hatch.
Use the hatch to check how the things are going at the bottom of the bin.

Square or hexagonal plastic bins

These come as flat packs that youíll have assembled. The sides are held together with long plastic pins that fit through eyes on the vertical sides. Remove one pin and you can then swing one side like a door.
You fork the uncomposted material to one side and this gives you access to the well rotted compost at the bottom. Then slip the pin through its retaining eyes and fork back the material you donít want to use just now. Again this turning will inject air into the heap and speed up the composting process.

A New Zealand Box

This has two bays. You fill one with kitchen and garden rubbish the first year. In the spring of the 2nd year cover it with a wooden or plastic lid or sheets of cardboard or bubble wrap to give some insulation. We no longer recommend using old carpets as there is some evidence that synthetic chemicals from the carpet can leach into the compost, thereby contaminating it.
Leave this first bay to rot down while you fill the second.
At the beginning of the third year, dig out the compost from the first bay. This is now cleared for the current yearís rubbish!
(A good idea is to turn last yearís half-digested compost by forking it into the empty bay.)

Let your garden enjoy your compost!

Download our free leaflet on Using Compost in the Garden

Find recipes for Potting and Seed Mixes in DIY Compost Mixes and Making your own potting mixes

You can watch our video to see how best to go about emptying your home compost bin.