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Compost bin wont produce compost

My compost bin is not producing compost very well.

I fill it mainly with green waste as I struggle to get enough cardboard etc to fulfill the brown waste.  Its probably 80/20 ratio of green/brown.  Mainly lawn cuttings, fallen apples and our food waste.

The door on it is broken, so there is a hole there where the compost door used to be, which I have covered with bricks so it is not air-tight.

Another potential problem is that it is in a shady area next to a fence so it is pretty much always in shade.

The compost that comes out is very spongy.  Twigs, eggshells, teabags don't get broken down much.  I suspect it is mainly worm poo rather than compost.  

It is always crawling with hundreds of worms. 

It doesnt seem to get hot like I read it should.

It has been full for 2 years.  After one year I emptied it, removed larger twigs etc and refilled it in a more balanced green/brown way then left it a year.  I thought this would fix it but it hasn't.  

The pile keeps sinking down as I am able to top it up once a week with new green waste and cardboard, so something is happening, however the quality of the compost is not good at all.  I add rainwater to it sometimes.

Does anyone have any advice for how to get this working better?


  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    mameha said:
     Twigs, eggshells, teabags don't get broken down much.
    Our heaps used to produce good compost, but they never managed to break down eggshells or teabags. We stopped putting eggshells in, and ripped teabags open and just composed the leaves. Big twigs will also take a long time to break down, so you may be being too hard on yourself.

    Do you have a shredder? Shredded material breaks down so much faster (as the surface area is much greater which gives more for the decomposting agents to attack). Our heaps (four feet cubes) used to get hot within days.

    Maybe you do need to adjust your green/brown ratio? I'm no expert but I sort of aim for a 50/50 mix and it worked for us. The mixture does need to be damp - I did experiment with dry composting (in a polytunnel) and nothing happened!
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,210
    If you shred your old bank statements etc, you can add that to the compost heap to increase the ratio of brown to green.

    I'm with DampGardenMan on eggshells and teabags.  I'm still removing teabag outsides from 7-year-old compost... we now use loose tea.   :)
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,556
    we  save our eggshells until there's a decent amount then put them on a baking tray when there's something in the oven. Once cold, they crush very easily to crumb and then added to the wormery.
    I read there's a chemical in the eggshells which encourages the worms to breed. No idea if it's true or just some "urban myth"
  • JellyfireJellyfire Posts: 1,139
    It sounds very like mine used to be, both in terms of position and results. I used to get  pretty rancid sludgy black stuff out of it. Adding a lot more brown definitely helped, and getting a little shredder as DGM said also made a big difference. The black plastic container types are hard work as you cant turn the contents to get air in, so I used to periodically empty it out and then pop it all back in again. Hard work but again made a big difference. 
    I eventually got another one next to it so that I could split the green up more evenly as I also had a shortage of brown. This also helped. Eventually I got sick of the whole process though and built a three bay palette one which has the same stuff put in it but produces beautiful compost. I think the plastic ones may just need a much stricter regime of what goes in there to be successful
  • mamehamameha Posts: 40
    Thanks for the all the great advice.

    Alas I don't have access to a shredder and it doesn't make economic sense to pay £30 for one as I could just buy several years worth of compost for that from the shop.

    Apart from cardboard is there anything else easy to use as brown waste?
  • If you are putting a lot of grass (mowings) in the bin it will probably be too wet. It helps to put garden waste in layers (inc twigs and other stuff) and to aerate it from time to time. Thick layers of lawn mowings don't help.  There is a gadget you can get to help to turn compost, otherwise it means taking the compost out and then putting it back again with some twigs etc so that there is - in effect - some drainage. Worms are what you need in the compost, and they don't thrive in very damp conditions.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    I've got one of those gadgets for turning compost, I use it about once a month.  It gives all my major muscle groups a workout.  They cost about £15 and I think it's money well spent.  If you don't have enough cardboard come your way, your local supermarket will probably be glad to give you some boxes, as they have to pay to get rid of them.   Straw, sawdust and wood shavings will also balance out the green stuff - if you know anyone who keeps rabbits or guinea pigs, ask them for their pets' used bedding. Once you've got the green/brown balance right, if it's still slow to get going, try adding freshly voided urine.  It will give the bacteria a nitrogen boost.  
  • mamehamameha Posts: 40
    I have a drill and cement mixer attachment, might give that a try as it looks similar.

  • FireFire Posts: 17,348
    Torn up newspaper is good to add. Shredded dry leaves, loo rolls, used tissue/ kitchen towel. I don't recycle much paper any more as most of it goes into my compost. I don't add glossy stuff as the inks take ages to break down. Tea bags contain a high level of plastic, so I don't add them. You just need to scrunch the egg shells before adding. Any and all cardboard. I also put in cut up woollens, cotton tee shirts etc but they take longer to break down. I recently got a whole load of free wood chip from a local furniture makers. I hear that a wood chip/grass cuttings mix makes for good compost in the end.
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,968
    I use newspaper to line my kitchen compost bucket, and then dump the whole thing out into the compost bin.  I put my yard compost directly onto my beds (grass clippings, mowed leaves, plant trimmings, weeds, etc), so the only thing going into my compost bin is kitchen waste.  Browns you might include are torn up egg cartons, paper towels, tissues, toilet roll insides, etc.  I don't bother with cardboard, as I've never needed to.  My compost when I dump it out is full of pistachio shells, corn cobs, egg shells, apricot seeds, tea bags, and a variety of other uncomposted material.  If it's in the way of my planting, I just toss it to another part of the bed, or else behind my berry bushes or rhubarb.  Nature will soon take care of those uncomposted bits.. are they really that much of a problem?  
    Utah, USA.
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