Forum home Tools and techniques

Compost for beginners - plastic tubs came with house purchase

OK  first proper garden and it's a decent size. There's 4 plastic compost tubs. The garden generates a lot of leaves and grassy type leaves. There's also bracken. Mostly we're generating woody waste due to many trees  and woody bushes. I've just filled one tub with the dead tree leaves and dead leaves from plants with some twigs. How to turn that into compost?

 We're taking a lot of waste in 272litre sacks to the skip in the last year and always have 4 or 5 such sacks at least partly full.   Most of that we can't avoid taking to the skip, but some might make good compost. So what goes in and how to get the useful product out? Can we just fill 4 tubs up and wait? Seriously,  teach me at least the basics please! 


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,929
    Are these the "dalek" type tubs? Most bins have a door at the bottom for getting the good stuff out.
    Sounds like you have a good mix going on, you can add grass cuttings later on, but make sure they are well mixed in with the sticks etc.
    Personally l cut any wood up pretty small, working on the theory that they will rot down faster. Heat is another thing, the more heat your waste generates, the quicker it will form compost.
  • Yep! Dalek bins.  Some have drawer type bottom openings others a cover plate. The base openings are rather small, too small for a spade/shovel to fit in. 

    Do you need to rotate the contents? I once heard that you turn the contents over into another bin after a while.  Top goes into the bottom. Is this needed?

    My dad and grandad, both keen gardeners,  used to just tip it all into one heap. Then took it out infrequently. They both also burnt a lot,  especially weeds or stuff that might spread. They then used the ashes on certain vegetables as they said wood ash is high in nutrients needed for growing crops. My grandad really knew his stuff,  all old school stuff passed down the years. I learnt a lot from him but only a fraction of what he actually showed/ taught me as a kid. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,929
    edited February 2022
    I have a couple of dalek bins, twice a year the good stuff is taken out from the bottom through the door (granted, can be a bit fiddly! ), that's either bagged up for later use or spread over the flower beds. The majority of the rest is then taken out through the top, given a good mix (either in a wheelbarrow or on a tarpaulin) and then put back. Anything that shows no signs of rotting is either cut up smaller or put in the council green waste bin.
    The main problem can be that the contents are too dry, so l usually add a watering can or two's contents, using a rose. You used to be able to use a product called "Garotta" to speed up decomposition, l don't know offhand if this is still available. 
    Edited to add, yes it is.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,494
    I’m not a big fan of dalek bins for compost as I find the flap at the bottom too fiddly for getting the compost out.

    I do have about 5 of these bins which I use for making leaf mould. Ideally the leaves should be deciduous rather than evergreen and try to keep out too many sticks. Make sure the leaves are damp so water if necessary, fill up the bin, put the lid on and leave it for 6 months. Then take the lid off,  check the leaves are still damp, and stir it with a fork. By now they should partially have decomposed and you can fit two bins’ worth into one bin. Leave for another 9 months and the leaf mould is ready to use.

    For the rest of the compost I’d advise making two or three bins using old pallets.  Fill them with a 50:50 mix of green stuff like grass clippings, nettles, uncooked kitchen vegetable waste, dug up or pruned green plants and weeds (but don’t put in the roots or seeds of pernicious weeds) and brown stuff like branches chopped up small, chopped stems, torn up cardboard, and so on. 

    In summer I have loads of green and not so much brown so I keep a stack of cardboard, and a couple of bales of straw donated by horse-keeping friends. The mix should be slightly damp but not excessively wet and mine is covered by a tarpaulin to keep out rain and retain some heat. If you add a decent amount of material at a time the bin will decompose and be usable in 6 to 12 months. Turning the material speeds up the process but I can rarely be bothered.
    Rutland, England
Sign In or Register to comment.