London (change)
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19/06/2013 at 12:59

Hi Gardeners, I have built a composter out of wood. I am very concerned on what I put into it. Seems with just grass cuttings it's dry. I know i can add paper, cardboard & cuttings but can I also add waste, like fruit  & veg but, what else can I add ? also  will all this make it smell & attract wasps/flies?

Will try to post a pic.....



19/06/2013 at 13:43

Grass cuttings on their own don't make very good compost. They usually tend to go dry on top and slimy in the middle. Add any fruit or veg peelings, but not meat, fish or dairy products, which will atract rats. Scrunched up paper and ripped up cardborad mixed in will help. If it gets too dry give it a soak with a hosepipe., then cover over with a piece of old compost bag or carpet or thick cardboard. It won't smell.  It may get invaded by brandling worms, but that's good because they mix it up for you.

19/06/2013 at 13:52

Hi Molly - mixing it all together is necessary as well to help it break down and to keep the air flowing through it. Warm and damp is the general rule to make compost and keeping a balance of your ingredients as fidget says.

19/06/2013 at 13:52

If you know anyone who keeps pet rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens etc ask them for some of the manure for your compost heap - that'll get it working.  Or if you know a chap who likes a pint or two, see if you can negotiate the donation of some recycled beer or cider - diluted a bit and poured over your compost heap that will also get it working. 

19/06/2013 at 14:11

Dove - I'm sure we don't know what you're implying there....

19/06/2013 at 14:20

19/06/2013 at 15:48

LOL. Thankgoodness you didn't want me to pee in the compo...  I have heard that before, I guess its the acid, that breaks it down..

My neighbour as chickens, so I will ask him.

Some great tips for me. Thanks friends.


19/06/2013 at 17:55

You can put just about anything in your compost bin except cooked food - that will encourage rats and those I am sure you do not want.  How long it takes to break down will depend upon how hot it gets in there, and how big the bin is.  I would not put perrenial weeds in, things like dock, ground elder and so on, as home compost bins don't - on the whole - get hot enough to kill the seeds, and then all you do is spread seeds all over your garden when you use it - not pretty!  Add eggshells, crushed to help them break down, chop cauliflower type stems as they are big and take time, dry leaves, add some water if it doesn't rain, and turn regularly - a heavy job that I cannot do so as others say, add your lawn trimmings in small amounts with screwed up paper and so on.

19/06/2013 at 17:57

P.S. You can pee in a bowl and dilute that if being female makes standing over the bin difficult!!! Friends with small children who are still not shy are useful, the kiddiwinkles love peeing in the heap - as long as they understand that is the only place they can do it in a garden!!

19/06/2013 at 18:01

All of the above advice is top notch.

For what it's worth and to start you off and keep it simple, just remember the ratio of 50/50 wet and dry and you can't really go wrong. Ofc add manures, stir it and pee is also good, but getting the right ratio is important or it will take much much longer time.

19/06/2013 at 18:13

Booker - depends what height the bin is...!! 

More  great advice Molly from everyone and as Booker says- if turning is difficult you can always lift it out regularly and put it back in. Most people try to have 2 bins, or even 3 depending on the size of your plot, so that you can shift it into the next bin to break down while you fill the first. 

Aren't we sad that we get excited about compost!

19/06/2013 at 18:22

No not at all, better than some of the boring things some people get excited about - it is at least important to the garden and recycling - and here is one of the few places you can get excited about it!!

See what you mean about the height of the compost bin, I was thinking more about a heap ...................

19/06/2013 at 18:30

Oh I love it! I've got 3 daleks, one filling, one breaking down and one ready to go. Getting near the end of the rotted one, the contents of which I riddle and the reject stuff I put back in the one that's rotting down. I'm not that picky about ratios, but I do stir/turn it frequently, and sling in a bit of pelleted chicken poo and/ or water if it's looking a bit dry.

Once you've got a system going, you'll wonder how you managed without it.

19/06/2013 at 18:48


19/06/2013 at 18:48

When I built my first bin I used to visit the local greengrocer who let me have all his offcuts of cabbage leaves, anything that he was throwing away as being past it's best or unsaleable etc. found it's way into my bin to mix with the grass. This cooked nicely. and compost ensued.

20/06/2013 at 16:41

Well, I must say I feel more confident now, some great advice & laughs too.

I have built a compo bin, I'm not sure if its correct though, it doesn't have any ventilation, but i will turn the contents inside. Let me know what you think, even if i have to remake it, rather friends be straight with me, even if it means me taking my pride n joy apart  & rebuilding it. 

Thankyou for all your tips.



20/06/2013 at 19:44

Bob Flowerdew was once asked on Gardeners' Question Time if it was alright for this lady's husband to put a pint of his pee onto his compost heap each week.

"NO,NO,NO" said the great man in a loud voice..."IT SHOULD ALL GO ON THERE!"

20/06/2013 at 19:49

I think thats a lovely compost bin,Molly. I've got green plastic daleks, black plastic tardis, and a green plastic rotol. All horrible looking so I hide them behind fence panels.

20/06/2013 at 21:00

I'm rather impressed too. Only one observation, is it mounted on bricks. Compost bins don't usually have bottoms and are laid straight on the soil. This lets the worms in and allows the moisture to drain away.

20/06/2013 at 21:10

Good point Zoomer, and I would be concerned about vermin nesting underneath. Dry and warmth may attract some unwelcome friends.

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