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Four ways to better compost

Making your own compost is a great way of recycling green waste, and it saves you money, too. But it can be tricky to get exactly right. Many compost heaps are too wet, too dry or don't rot down quickly enough.

The size of your bin, the mix of ingredients and frequency of turning all help determine the quality of the end product. Here are four key tips that will set you on the road to perfect, crumbly compost.

Efficient heap

Make an efficient heap

Home-made compost heaps should be at least 1m x 1m, to promote decomposition. Use timber boards for the sides to help retain heat. Plastic compost bins can be of smaller dimensions as they retain moisture and heat well.

Mix of ingredients

Use a mix of ingredients

Combine a mixture of soft, leafy material, grass clippings and kitchen peelings with chopped up woody matter, cardboard and shredded paper. This will maintain both moisture and aeration in the heap or bin, both of which are required for good decomposition.

Kitchen peelings

Add kitchen peelings

Fruit and vegetable peel, and produce that is beyond use, are valuable additions to compost. Don't add meat or fish (cooked or raw) to a standard compost bin or heap as it will be become rancid, resulting in harmful bacteria and attracting vermin.

Turn compost

Turn compost regularly

Mixing the contents of your compost bin will help speed up decomposition. Turn material as frequently as possible, from the sides of the heap or bin into the centre, where the temperature builds up to kill off many of the harmful bacteria.

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