Composting at Home

Many things have changed over the years for home gardeners. We no longer have to blend our own fertilisers and potting mixes but the one product that is still great to make at home is compost.

Basically composting is the breaking down of organic matter into a form that can be added to garden soil. The benefits of composting are three fold as it is not only a convenient way to dispose of most of your household organic waste but it also helps improve the structure of your soil and eases the pressure on landfill rubbish sites. What’s more it is so much easier these days with the availability of a wide range of portable compost bins and a wealth of useful information on the internet, just search composting.

Composting is satisfying and inexpensive as most of the ingredients we need to make it are waste from our own homes!  

Team McGregor's Composting tips:

Do Dont
  • Position your compost bin in a sheltered part of the garden directly on to the soil
  • Cut any long thick stems into finger length pieces as they will break down faster than if left whole
  • Mulch leaves with the lawnmower before you add them to the bin
  • Add Lime every few layers (this will improve the quality of your finished product and help to keep down any smell)      
  • Aerate the heap with a fork if it gets too hot
  • Use excess lawn clippings to cover kitchen scraps
  • Leave a pile beside your compost bin and add when necessacary
  • Wear gloves when handling compost
  • Place your bin on to a hard concrete surface
  • Compress your compost
  • Add meat or fish scraps
  • Dont touch the compost heap if it freezes in the cold weather, it will start decomposing again when the weather warms up

Compost is ready when it has the consistency of lumpy potting mix and it can be easily broken up with a garden fork. Spread the compost over the ground or incorporate it in to the soil a few weeks before planting.

Compost gets a bad rap for attracting rats and mice as it is warm with a ready food source making it ideal for nesting.  Luckily there are a few things that can be done to help.

  • Make sure the lid is secure, weigh it down if necessary
  • Rodents can also enter from the bottom of the bin through the vent holes. Stand the bin on a piece of chicken wire which has the smallest guage; it needs to be much larger than the size of the bottom of the bin. Then fold the wire up the sides, you are essentially wrapping the bottom of the bin to the point over the vents presenting a physical barrier
  • If your garden is close to the bush choose a rotating bin, it is off the ground and the drum is completely enclosed
  • Rodents prefer it nice and dry; keep the compost a little moist but not soaking
  • Turn the pile often as you can
  • Lightly sprinkle lime over all food waste you put in the bin
  • Keep the bread for the birds and leave it out of the bin
  • Bury all food waste in the centre of the bin making it harder to get to
  • If all of this fails then the other option is to lay bait around the bin, sometimes the quickest way to sort the problem. Always carefully read and follow the bait instructions and use a bait station