Composting cardboard

by Adam Pasco

... newspaper can be composted, and so can plain cardboard including corrugated boxes, tubes from toilet and kitchen paper rolls as well as egg boxes.

Composting cardboard - adding cardboard toilet rolls to a compost heapSending compostable waste to landfill is criminal, and while many gardeners do their bit to compost kitchen and garden waste, I'm sure many people could do more.

I'm keen to recycle everything I can. This makes sense on two counts: it reduces the amount of domestic waste that has to be collected, and it produces home-made compost that I can use around my garden. Of course I compost all the usual stuff, from banana skins and egg shells to tea bags and coffee grounds. Preparing a single roast dinner produces quite a bag of potato and vegetable peelings, and wrapped in newspaper these can feed my compost heap.

Yes, newspaper can be composted, and so can plain cardboard including corrugated boxes, tubes from toilet and kitchen paper rolls as well as egg boxes. I just tear them up into small pieces and mix them in with other kitchen waste and lawn clippings. If the compost heap looks a bit dry then I soak the cardboard in water before adding to help it break down. It's surprising just how much plain cardboard (no tape, staples or plastic labels) can be accumulated and composted every year.

Then there's the junk mail. Any plain paper, brown envelopes, letters or paper bags I receive are fed through my cross-cut shredder, and all of this can be added to my compost heap. Paper composts perfectly well when mixed with kitchen waste and other material, but I avoid glossy catalogues, the plastic found in window envelopes, and colour printed cereal boxes.

I know it's only a small amount, but multiply this across the country and it will really make a difference. And my reward, apart from doing my bit, is lovely compost to dig in and improve my soil.

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Gardeners' World Web User 07/04/2008 at 16:34

I want to resume composting now I have moved house. However, my husband fears rats are attracted to compost heaps. Please reassure him this is not so.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2008 at 10:52

Of course rats can be anywhere, but provided you only put green waste from the kitchen and garden onto your heap there is no reason why rats should be attracted.

I've never had rats in any of my 6 compost bins. However, rats love decking, and my neighbours had a family under their's! Apparently the rise in decking has been far more attractive to rats than compost heaps!

Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2008 at 14:25

Use your toilet rolls as pots to sow peas, sweetcorn etc, plant the toilet roll when seedlings are ready and no root disturbance.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2008 at 20:15

We have been composting "basics" for a while now and we did recently have problems with rats. However, my friend told me about covering the base of the compost bin with wire netting and letting it come up the sides of the bin (we have a black plastic bin). This so far has done the trick - the rats can not burrow in from the sides or from below.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2008 at 20:37

I find the compost heap a great place to dispose of all the confidential parts of mail, well shredded first then topped with plenty of kitchen peelings and tea bags. So far I've had no problem with rats.

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