Composting FAQs

Is there any way to speed up the composting process?

In general, it takes about a year for the compost to form. To speed up the composting process, add water regularly and make sure that everything is well mixed. Also, regularly turning your compost will introduce oxygen

Eggshells and wood aren’t breaking down in my compost bin. Why is this happening, and what should I do?

Make sure your eggshells and pieces of wood are broken into small pieces as they are much denser materials that vegetable peelings, garden cuttings and other materials you would add to your composter. It is not unusual for these materials to take a longer time to breakdown, so if they do appear in your end-product compost, simply add them back to into the bin for a second run.

How will I know when my compost is ready for use?

Compost that is ready to be used will look much like compost you can buy in DIY stores and garden centres. It should appear as a dark brown, crumbly soil and there should be no evidence of food peelings, garden waste or other materials that have been added.

Will rodents become a problem with all the decomposing foods in my composter?

In some cases, rodents have been a problem for people with composters. However, they can generally be avoided by following certain composting rules.

Say no to cooked foods: Rodents are primarily attracted to cooked foods, meat, fish and cheese, so the best practise is to avoid adding these materials at all. They can also take a long time to break down in the composter.

Add water: If rodents are nesting in your compost bin, chances are its too dry. Add some water until it has a moist consistency. This should encourage them to find another nesting site.

Use a base on your bin: Rodents love the warm environment of the composting bin so it’s best to ensure that they cannot enter in the first place. A simple base for your bin should deter them. You can make one from fine meshing wire or alternatively, you can buy one at most DIY stores and garden centres.

Plant lavender: Rodents don’t like the smell of lavender, so planting a lavender bush near your composter is an easy way to discourage these unwanted visitors.

There’s a really bad smell from my composting bin. How do I get rid of it?

Your compost bin should never emit a bad odour. If it does, chances are that there isn’t the right mix of different materials in the bin - coarse and fine & wet and dry. This mix will create the right balance of air and moisture, an ideal environment for the bacteria that break-down the materials.

  If your compost is too wet or too dry, it will start to smell bad. Add ‘green’ (wet) materials such as vegetable peelings, garden waste, tea-bags and some water if your compost if dry. Add ‘brown’ (dry) materials such as scrunched paper and torn cardboard if your compost is wet. Keep the balance of materials for successful composting!

Where can I get a composting bin?

Most garden centres and DIY stores sell composting bins, and they are also available from most local authorities. Otherwise, you can make your own composting bin.

A good size for a wooden composting bin is about 3ft square. Ideally, you should have two composting bins: one for adding fresh material to, and the other for current use.

Every time I open my composting bin, swarms of tiny flies come out. Is there anything I can do to control this?

It is normal to have some tiny fruit flies in your bin as they are part of the decomposition process. They are attracted to the fruits and vegetable peelings in your bin so it is important to keep the compost turned and bury the peelings under other material to minimise the number of flies.

However, if there are large swarms of flies it may indicate that your compost is too wet. This occurs when too many ‘green’ materials (peelings, grass cuttings etc.) have been added. Mix in some ‘brown’ materials to dry out the compost a little, such as scrunched paper, torn cardboard and straw. This will balance the compost materials again.

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