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Friday, February 23, 2018

Your Questions About Garden Compost Bins

Posted by admin on July 29, 2011

Richard asks…

what can i put in a garden compost bin?

apart from veg/fruit peelings, dead flowers & garden waste, tea bags & egg shells? any thing else? thanks all who reply -Lou

admin answers:

Basically nearly everything. All food waste with the exception of meat products (meat encourages rats) All garden waste with the exception of long rooted weeds like dandelion, bindweed, nettles, etc. I personally don’t put in soft weeds if they have gone to seed.

All garden plants and clippings and some house waste like shredded paper and cardboard and the contents of your vacuum cleaner and sawdust. If you have a bonfire the wood ash is brilliant, lots of potash that improves fruits and flowers.

Don’t forget used compost when you re pot your plants tubs and baskets and pet waste from pets like rabbits, hamsters, etc., the soiled bedding, like paper or sawdust, really make your compost heat up destroying weed seeds as does pet droppings.

The things I don’t put in is anything woody, unless shredded, weeds with long roots or seeds, plastic or cloth.

The secrets of composting are are keeping it stirred, not adding too many grass clippings unless mixed in well, and use an accelerator like garrotta or any fertiliser you use in the garden.  I use a lot is chicken manure pellets from the garden centre and the best accelerator of all, horse manure, even a shovel full mixed in gives wonderful results.

So remember, keep it stirred, use an accelerator, and the worms and biological activity will do the rest.

Happy composting!

Laura asks…

I got a compost bin in the garden. It is a colony of cockroaches.How can i make agood compost without cokrchs?

admin answers:

I have a compost pile as well but I have not seen any cockroaches.  I make sure that I don’t put any cooked food into my pile though – just grass clippings, old mulch, fresh produce scraps, leaves and various trimmings and such from outside no fats animal or vegetable of any kind.

Grass clippings when added to the pile, sprinkled with lime and then watered really speed the compost process up- at least it worked well for me last year.  Good luck and don’t mind the bugs too much.

Chris asks…

Should I put live snails and slugs from the garden in my compost bin?

admin answers:

They’re not just going to stay in the compost.  They like fresh food, and will find their way back to your plants. They should really be destroyed.  If you have difficulty bringing yourself to do that, just relocate them by throwing them into the nearest field.  Lol! I’ve been know to do that!

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Composting Basics Using Compost Bins

Posted by admin on September 27, 2010

Did you know that waste in excess of 60% that is created by the average U.S. household could be recycled or composted? Regrettably, only 8 percent of American waste is composted, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Did you also know that yard waste, such as grass trimmings, adds up to almost 20% of all garbage produced every year? When dumped into a landfill site, organic matter like food and grass trimmings occupy a large area and play a significant part in the formation of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that “remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years…and is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Composting organic matter like food and grass trimmings is simple, especially when using a purchased compost bin. Making a compost pile on your own is certainly an option, but compost bins on the market come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and time and again, make the process of composting virtually effortless. No matter how you choose to compost your organic wastes, the benefits of composting are indisputable. Composting helps the environment by decreasing greenhouse gases and other contaminants in the air that would be created because of simply throwing organic wastes into the local landfill or incinerator. Composting also saves money by providing you with free fertilizer for your garden. Finally, compost puts nutrients back into the soil, making your garden soil richer and plants healthier.

The initial phase in composting is to select a compost bin. Compost bins are obtainable in all shapes and sizes, so the size of your garden or yard is not an issue. Large compost bins let devoted gardeners with a sizeable growing area the ability to make enough compost to last throughout the growing season. On the other hand, small compost bins can fit in the kitchen or on the balcony of a small apartment home and provide enough compost for house plants and a small herb garden. Knowing how much time you wish to spend tending to your compost pile and how much space you have to devote to a compost bin will benefit you while you select the most appropriate compost bin.

Now that you have selected the best compost bin, it’s time to begin filling it with organic matter. But can you put any kind of organic matter into a compost pile? Unfortunately, no. The common advice is to fill your compost bin with a mixture of 50 percent “browns,” and 50 percent “greens.” The “browns” add carbon to the mix and consist of some of the ingredients that follow:

Dried leaves
Chopped Cornstalks – must be shredded or chopped into very small pieces first
Shredded Paper
Shredded Cardboard
Paper Towels

“Greens” add nitrogen to the mix and comprise a few of the items that follow:

Grass Clippings
Garden Trimmings
Most Kitchen Wastes (see below for exceptions)
Fresh Hay
Manure from non-meat eating animals

Do not include the following types of organic matter into your compost bin unless properly prepared first:

Plants with diseases
Grass clippings with pesticides or other chemicals
Hedge trimmings and branches
Nut shells
Peat moss
Pine Cones and pine needles
Sod and soil
Wood ashes
Wood chips

For information about how to prepare these types of organic matter for composting, visit the website of your local agricultural extension office.

Some organic matter does not belong in a compost bin. Never add the following items to the compost bin:

Animal related products that would attract pests and create an odor problem including bones; dairy products such as butter, cheese, mayonnaise, salad dressing, milk, yogurt, sour cream; fish scraps, meat
Other food wastes including cooked food, peanut butter, fatty or greasy foods
Manure from meat-eating animals (including humans)
Charcoal and briquettes
Glossy and/or colored paper
Sludge (biosolids)

Maintaining your compost pile depends on the type of compost bin you have selected. Some compost bins require that the pile be mixed periodically, but some compost bins require no mixing. Refer to the compost bin manufacturer’s instructions for details.

By purchasing or building your own compost bin that meets your specific needs, and by following some basic rules and recommendations, you can create your own dollar stretching, earth friendly, plant enriching compost.

Trey Collier is owner of, North America’s finest Outdoor Casual Living Store, designed and created to help fashion outdoor living spaces. Since 2001, has offered internet customers quality outdoor living products, including Compost Bins, at very reasonable prices.

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How to Make a Compost Pile & What to Compost

Posted by admin on September 24, 2010

It’s pretty basic really, make a pile of mixed up organic (in the it was once alive sense of the word) items. You can use a commercial compost bin or compost tumbler, a homemade compost box of old wood scraps or chicken-wire, or even just make a big pile of compost in a corner of the yard. The important bit is what goes into your compost pile not how expensive it was to construct.

What Can I Compost?

Nature is already showing us what we can compost. In its most basic sense anything that was once alive will break down into organic components. So if an item is comprised of 100% natural materials it can be composted. So your goal when composting should be if something was once alive it can be added to my compost pile to prevent its goodness being wasted. Anything once alive will add goodness to your garden when it has been composted.

Now we all have preconceived notions of what can be added to the compost pile and need to work with these. If there is something on the list you do not already compost try adding it. You’ll reduce your household waste and increase your compost heap.

* Compost your garden prunings, lawn clippings and weeds. Just make sure the prunings are shredded or broken up into small pieces and lawn clippings are mixed throughout the compost heap. Prolific weeds may be soaked in a bucket of water for a few weeks so they turn into mush which definitely won’t survive the heat of your compost pile. Seriously diseased plants such as brassicas infected with clubroot may be burnt first and the ashes added to the plot to prevent the clubroot disease reinfecting your soil later on.

* Compost your vegetable peelings. All your vegetable waste from the kitchen can go straight onto your compost pile.

* Compost your paper and cardboard. All your uncoated paper and card should be shredded / ripped up and added to the compost heap. Don’t forget to remove plastic windows from envelopes and plastic tape from cardboard packaging. Laminated papers and cards cannot be added as they’ll leave a plastic film which won’t break down so keep an eye on what kind of paper and card products you purchase.

* Compost your kitchen scraps even meat and fish. Meat and fish was once alive so will compost down into lovely goodness for your soil too. Just ensure your compost pile is pet proof and put these items deep into the pile, not just left on top for the local wildlife to feast on! Raw or cooked kitchen scraps will break down but if there is any issue with dogs trying to break into your heap cooked bones may be a problem as they are brittle and could be dangerous if swallowed.

* Compost dog waste. Again make sure the composting dog poop is always buried within the compost heap and it will break down fine. Poo (manure) is full of bacteria who love to break down organic items. Introducing manure to your compost pile will bring in these useful bacteria to help speed up the composting process.

* Compost manure. If you have other livestock or access to farmyard manure the addition of small quantities throughout the compost heap will heat things up and speed things along. Commercial organic compost activators are often primarily dried manure.

* Compost urine. This is probably best left to the boys. Urine is full of nutrients which will help activate your compost pile. Asking a gentleman to occasionally wee on the compost pile will do nothing but good.

* Compost human manure. It’s no different to any other manure and can be composted very successfully. So if you have space for a dry composting toilet you can reduce your water usage and improve your compost creation in one step.

* Compost wood ash and sawdust. Wood ash from a wood burning fire is excellent added to the heap providing potash and other nutrients. Sawdust added in small quantities through the pile will improve bulk but may slow down the composting action if added too liberally.

* Compost pet or livestock bedding. Whether it be bedding from a gerbil cage or the contents of a hen coop, these natural materials (straw / hay / sawdust etc) will be covered in animal manure and urine and therefore fantastic additions to the compost heap. N.B. most commercial cat litters are not natural and thus not suitable for the compost heap – make sure you read the packet to see if the product is natural and was ‘once alive’.

* Other natural fibers. So old woolen sweaters, cotton socks, hair (if you cut your own) or pet fur (if you trim theirs) will break down too. Don’t forget to check for synthetic additions to clothing including buttons, zippers or just man-made fibers such as lycra.

Remember! Anything which was once alive, will break down into compost.

How to Compost

Unless you’re using a commercial container for composting, a rough guide is to aim for a finished heap at around 1m (or 1 yard) cubed. Once you reach your finished size cover your pile with carpet or plastic sheeting to keep the worst of the weather off and leave your heap to do its stuff for six months to a year.

If you’re using any kind of manure leave the heap for at least a year before putting it onto your soil. If the heap is working well all pathogens contained in the manure will have been long gone in around three months but its easier to wait longer and not have to worry!

Ensure your compost heap is pet-proof.

Make sure the heap is built with a mixture of items so it remains aerated throughout due to the different sizes and types of particles within it. If you’re likely to have a surplus of one item such as grass clippings make a separate pile of this which you can then add at intervals onto the heap. Try to aim for a layered approach to the compost heap such as some kitchen scraps followed by lawn clippings, paper, dog waste, ash etc.

If you live in a dry climate add water / urine / washing up water to the heap. The compost heap is full of living organisms so it needs to be moist. Likewise if you live in a wet climate cover the heap to prevent all those living organisms drowning.

Be sensible. You’re adding things that are starting to break down – food scraps, animal waste, so observe basic hygiene at all times – keep the kids occupied somewhere else and wash your hands!

It is good practice to cover anything animals might find interesting within the heap. So either dig a small hole whenever adding kitchen waste etc or keep a batch of weeds / law clippings / straw etc to cover the interesting stuff whenever you add it. This will deter animal and insect pests. If you leave a piece of leftover roast chicken breast on the top of your compost heap you would expect a few birds, flies, cats and dogs to take an interest so cover up the interesting stuff! This will also keep the smells in.

Your finished compost will smell like rich woodland soil, crumbly and dark. But obviously if you’re adding poo to your pile you don’t want the smell of poo around before the composting action gets going. So cover up or bury within the heap, all the smelly stuff!

Once you add your own made compost to your garden you’ll never want to buy another bag of the shop bought stuff again and you’ll love have less household waste to dispose of elsewhere. So go on get composting. It is the most basic method of reducing waste and recycling. Mother Nature’s always done it and now, so should we.

The Catalan Gardener.

For more interesting articles on composting, manure and organic gardening visit

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The Benefits of Compost Bin Composting

Posted by admin on September 23, 2010

Compost manure is the best nutrition you can give to growing plants. Because it is rich in natural plant material means that it’s the best type of fertilizer to feed to your plants.

Organic fertilizer of this nature is not exactly easy to make but after you have finished with it you will have good manure that will make your plants grow faster than the typical inorganic fertilizer that is sold in agricultural shops.

Compost bin composting is a new method of making compost that people now prefer to the usual type. This new type of manure is made from the normal compost materials; the only difference is that this is made in a garbage bin. So instead of throwing the plant material in a hole dug in the ground you simply fill up a garbage bin in place of a hole.

The process of manuring is the same; the only other difference is that the compost bin has to be kept inches from the ground to prevent rusting. A lot of people prefer compost bin manure because it’s a cleaner way of making compost manure. The old type of compost heaps could easily be messy and untidy especially with a dog around that just loves pulling at twigs and heaped up material.

The fact that it’s cleaner means that people who were always opposed to compost heaps on grounds of filth can very easily make manure. Something else to really adore about compost bin manure is that it’s convenient for small households that are too small to have space for compost manure. Therefore if you have a small garden on your apartment balcony you can easily maintain it using a simple garbage bin.

In addition to this the manure comes out finer when there are enough micro-organisms to decompose the plant material. Because the plants remain trapped the decomposing process is faster under such humid conditions.

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Minneapolis Restaurants are Composting

Posted by admin on December 16, 2008

According to Fox 9 News in the Twin Cities, Mayor Rybak is very proud of the ten restaurants that have taken to composting their food waste.  They are hoping that other businesses and residents will take up the challenge to join them in their effort.

The restauranteurs have admitted that their composting efforts cost more money and labor, but believe that it is worth the extra effort.

I’m sure their loyal customers will show their appreciation for the noble cause of these establishments by overlooking the increased food prices this will cause.

I pity the occupants of the lots adjacent to the compost pile if these ten eateries are anything other than vegan.


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Aerating Your Compost Pile

Posted by admin on October 23, 2008

I’m certainly not a scientist, but I remember learning, during my food service years, that in order for bacteria to grow on food, it needs moisture, air, and heat.

The same applies to your compost pile.  The food for your compost is the garden, kitchen, and yard waste that you will be composting.  Add water to create the optimal moisture level.  Most garden composters recommend that the moisture level of your compost be similar to a wrung out sponge.  The air is introduced by proper turning or aerating of the compost.  The heat is generated by the activity within the properly mixed garden composter.

Once the “food” is entered into your compost pile,  it will need to be turned, periodically, maybe once every couple of weeks.  Turning the compost accomplishes two objectives – first, it introduces the vital air into the middle of the pile, and second, it provides you with the opportunity to observe and regulate the moisture and heat levels of your compost pile.

For turning your compost pile, a pitchfork is a great tool to have on hand.  A better tool is a Compost Aerator.  This inexpensive and easy to use tool simply pokes down into the compost like a steel rod, then it’s “ears” open as you pull the tool back out of the compost pile.  This process pulls material from the center of the pile and mixes it with material around it.

This process is helpful if your pile is too wet.  You should add some dry, brown materials to mix in with your compost.  If your pile is too dry, you can add water and mix it up, or mix in some moist, green material.

See the Garden Aerator tool here.

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