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Singing Gardener

Now that I'm not working I'm hoping to find time to make compost more effectively (as well as doing a lot of other garden-y things!) as previously I've just ended up with mostly grass clippings which have just formed a slimy mess. I've been saving cardboard etc. to provide extra browns for the compost heap once the mowing season starts but can I also put in other kinds of paper - such as junk mail. If so, should I shred it first?

A lot of junk mail is made from shiny paper and that does not compost down very well. I have never shredded paper before - try it and see if it decomposes.

join the club Singing G weve just moved house HA, HA, and weve got about 100 box,s to shred,iv also considered putting some of the builders were using through the shredder when iv decided which is the best one to buy, perhaps i,ll start with a no show plumber, but i too need to know how much c/board to mix into the compost ,ill probably be doing it for years to come with all these box,s iv got. good luck
Singing Gardener

I haven't got that much cardboard! Just some boxes from Christmas and a fair amount of the brown paper which a lot of places seem to use as packing these days. I'll try putting a bit of shredded paper into the compost and see what happens...


Brown paper and torn up cardboard goes on our compost heap - it's very good to layer with all the green vegetable stuff. 


I put all my shredded paper on the compost heap, it disappears quite quickly. I save it up until I've got a large carrier bag full and spread it in a layer over the top of the heap. Just don't do it on a windy day!

Singing Gardener

You'd think not doing it on a windy day would be obvious - but I discovered this the hard way. It takes quite a while to chase scattered shredded paper around the garden, and it wasn't even all that windy!


Shredded paper can be used in small quantities in compost, but cardboard is better. I do add shredded paper and greens into a trench pit and backfill.

I have a cross cut paper shredder which I use to shred bank statements etc. when I have a carrier bag full it goes in the compost bin and disappears very quickly. I don't save loo roll centres for seeds they just get roughly torn and chucked in, same with egg cartons. I've never had any problems, I think variety is the spice for compost bins. I've just emptied my old one today, any lumps/bits etc get bunged back in until next time. What I have learnt is to shred or chop died back stems which are brown, some take an age to rot if left....Jean


Cardboard is also the most valuable item when sent for recycling, so I prefer to do that, unless it's very dirty. Boxes etc get re-used for various purposes until they are falling to bits. Good stuff!


Make sure you remove the windows from envelopes or they drive you mad when you use the compost as you have to remove the strips as they don't rot.

Buy yourself a robust paper shredder.  The cheap ones from supermarkets last very little time if you use them a lot.  I don't shred shiny paper - that goes for recycling.  Sheets or large pieces of cardboard - without the sticky tape - can go straight in the heap, no need to shred it.

Also don't put avocado stones or peach stones in the compost heap; they never rot down.

Singing Gardener

Thanks for the tip about the windows - I hadn't thought of that. I'm always amazed that my compost always seems to contain at least one crisp or chocolate wrapper which I definitely didn't put in! I found out about the avocado stones from experience as well.


I don't put any potato or tomato waste in my compost, they will spring up all over your garden next year. 


I have 3 dalek bins on the go. One being filled, a full one 'working' and one ready for use. A mix of everything is the secret. Fruit and veg peelings, shredded paper & cardboard, hair ( from hubbies haircuts), contents of hoover/carpet sweeper as well as the lawn cuttings/plant bits. I don't stir it up much as it's difficult as I'm not very tall. But if you ensure that there's layers of brown and green stuff, this shouldn't be a problem. Lots of advice on websites for 'New composters'. 

Only a little bit of paper, but if you have nice clean cardboard that is best


I put folded News Paper in the bottom of my runner bean trench, it is still damp after the driest of summers, then chop it up during the winter dig. Shredded paper goes on my compost and as already said don't shred the envelope windows.

I put it all in and have never had a problem even shiny paper will compost down when left. Anything that's left goes back into the bin after emptying, mind you I have 3 bins one at the allotment, two in the garden and I'm building another one at the allotment. I get grass clippings and browns from several neighbours and customers. A bit of a luxury really, but it all rots down.

Orchid Lady

Lyn, after your comment above, I think I might put my tomato and potato waste in the compost bin......things I haven't planted or threw away because i thought they were dead seem to be doing than the plants I've nurtured, so it might be the way forward for me 

I put some white shredded paper (A4 printer type not shiny stuff) in the compost.  I am on a mission to get my new (second hand) compost bin set up this week and turn out the existing 'compost' (AKA sludgy mess) into it and also attempt to make better compost.


I had quite moist compost at one point. I used paper to bulk it up and take up excess moisture.
Seems to have worked.

Paper and cardboard definitely improves compost and of course adds greatly to the volume, a good thing in itself.  Newspaper is now printed with non toxic inks and is terrific shredded and layered on.  Up to a third paper, which seems a lot, is considered  ok for composting.  

Paper and card is a tradeable commodity which varies in value according to type with good quality new white paper best, highly coloured stuff  and cardboard less so.  Recycling is a really dirty industry requiring lots of water, bleaching, and transporting, so as much composting as we can do is desire able, with landfill possibly a better option for some situations.  

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