Composting at homeLast updated: 07 November 2013 07:48 UK
Home composting is the best way to deal with organic household and garden waste. You can even compost on a balcony or windowsill.
If you've never composted at home before, this page will answer your questions and help get you started.
If you have any problems with your compost bin, a council officer can come and help you. Contact us at City Helpdesk to arrange a visit.
Compostable waste accounts for about one third of all waste in household bins. So there are big benefits to composting your garden waste at home:
- your dustbin is lighter and doesn't smell bad
- waste is recycled where it is produced, reducing the amount of waste the council has to collect for disposal, estimated at 3,000 tonnes every year. This, in turn, reduces vehicle movements and the associated pollution, as well as saving the council money which can be directed to other projects.
- compost is a wonderfully rich and organic material to improve your garden soil, rather than buy environmentally sensitive peat-based compost
- best of all - it's free!
If you really can’t compost at all, you can still make sure your waste is recycled by signing up for Portsmouth's green waste collection service, the Green Waste Club, or take your garden waste to the Portsmouth recycling centre where it is turned into a soil conditioner, called Pro-Grow.
What can I compost?
It's not just garden waste. At least 30% of your household bin can be composted, both food and non-food waste. For example, did you know that you can compost the contents of your vacuum cleaner, and torn cardboard egg boxes?
Follow this link for helpful hints and tips about minimising food waste.
Here is a list of items you can compost. A good mix of 'greens' and 'browns' helps your compost bin work most effectively:
quick to rot, provide nitrogen and moisture
slower to rot, provide fibre and carbon
What can't be composted?
There are some items which you should keep out of your compost bin, including: bread, cat and dog faeces, coal and coke ash, cooked food, dairy products, disposable nappies, glass, glossy magazines, meat, fish and tin cans.
Leaves take a lot longer to rot down than other types of garden waste. However, once rotted, they make fantastic mulch for the garden. Put leaves into a black sack rather than into your compost bin. Tie the black sack closed, poke a few drainage holes in the bag and leave it out of the way. In about a year, you can use the leaf mould round the garden.
You do not need to tackle leaves on the pavement outside your home - these will be swept away by the council street cleansing crews. If autumn leaves pile up quickly and become slippery before the cleaning crews are scheduled to visit, please contact us at City Helpdesk, or report it online.
Order a composting kit
To get started with composting, you need a compost bin for your garden. You don’t have to buy a compost bin - you could, for example, use an old plastic dustbin.
You can buy composters and other composting accessories, such as kitchen caddies, from Get Composting. If you just can't wait, then compost bins can be purchased at most garden centres, DIY and hardware stores.
Frequently asked questions about composting
|Composting questions||Composting answers|
|My small garden surely won't produce enough waste to get a compost bin working?||
It's a myth that having a small garden means you can't use a compost bin!
Small amounts of garden waste actually rot down very well in a compost bin and once kitchen wastes are added as well, you may be surprised at how much of your waste is compostable, and at the quality of the resulting material.
You could also consider a wormery.
|Will a compost bin smell?||
Compost bins don’t generally smell unpleasant. Smells usually mean there’s not enough air in the bin. This can be resolved by giving it a stir, or adding more tough dry material, such as shredded paper and broken cardboard, leaves and woody prunings.
|Won't a compost bin attract flies and rats?||
Avoid problems with flies by keeping the lid on your bin, only putting in the right material, either burying fruit peelings or wrapping them in a sheet of old newspaper, and coverng the top layer of your compost bin with a thin layer of soil.
If you think you have problems with rats, contact us at City Helpdesk to arrange for an officer to come and help.
|Can I use a compost bin with a garden which is only a paved yard, or has no grass, or is just bare soil?||
Compost bins work best on bare soil, which lets insects and worms into the bin and work their magic!
If you can’t place your bin on bare soil you can still compost. If you only have grass, dig up the turf and loosen the topsoil first. In a paved yard, see if you can lift a paving slab to reach the soil.
If your bin has to sit on concrete, layer the bottom with twigs to provide drainage. Then place a layer of soil on top (to provide the mini-beasts), before adding garden waste and other compostable stuff on top.