I have really poor soil so thought it might be a good idea to start composting my vegetable waste from the house. I don’t have space for a large composting unit so want to start small and see how it goes. How long will it take for organic matter to break down? Will I have some for next spring if I start now?


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    Typical kitchen vegetable waste will break down really quickly - even in days with the right kit, but normally a few weeks at most.  Some kitchen composters need an activator but can compost things other than just veg waste and some trap any smells which may arise so can be kept indoors.  Try a google for "kitchen composter" - there are a lot of options around these days.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks Bob, how about the ones that you keep in the kitchen and add some kind of activating solution to? are they worth the money.

    Ive seen some for about £45...

  • Found this whilst searching... makes an interesting read not sure how much to read into it

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,106

    You could try a small worm bin. If you have a shed or garage it could go in there.How big is your  garden?

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Not big at all I have a patio area and then a small grassed area, nowhere to hide one of those large compost bins.

    I do not have a shed either

    I looked at Urban Composter

    But does it do it any better than a small bin/container?

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,106

    If all you have is a patio and grass, then I don't see the point. Just bin it.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,054

    Need somewhere to get the ads in fbimage

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,106


    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Well I would like to improve the quality of my borders around my grass, otherwise I would bin it. My soil is awful and my plants don’t do very well at all. I was hoping to improve the quality so that I have better looking flowers come next summer.

    Our local council have also suggested composting organic waste would be better than putting it into landfill.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,106

    Does the council not have a brown bin scheme?

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • GreenGardener12, I think the Urban Composter product you were looking at uses the Bukashi system, except the bacteria in the system you have looked at are supplied in a spray rather than in a bran, which is what I use.

    I have a small-ish city garden - big enough for some compost bins though, so sounds bigger than yours. No lawn, so all my compost is from kitchen waste and any dead plant material I gather in the garden. I never have enough compost so was keen to try the Bukashi system. You can add all sorts to this - including cooked food, bread, meat and fish, none of which can go on a compost heap, as well as the tired fruit, veg peelings, teabags etc which I usually put in my compost bin. You fill up the bin, adding Bukashi bran (or the spray in the system you have looked at) to each layer of food as it goes in. Then once the bin is full, leave it sealed for a couple of weeks while it "cooks". I have two bins, so I can start filling a second  whilst the first one is cooking.

    You might get a very strong liquid from the tap at the bottom of the bin, depending on how wet the waste you put in is. This is VERY strong and has to be diluted 1:100 with water. I generally only get about two teaspoons worth (after tipping the bin so any liquid comes out through the tap), so collect it in an old litre milk bottle and top it up with water. Plants love it. After about a fortnight, if there is a kind of white mould on the material in the top of the bin - which will smell quite strongly of vinegar - it's ready for the garden. However it doesn't break down to compost-like material in the bin - it is just kind of pickled? (There are useful videos on this subject on You Tube, made by Bukashi fans!).

    At this stage, I empty the bin into my compost bin and cover it with a layer of other material, but you can also dig it into soil, so this might be ideal for your borders.  You'd need to dig down a few inches, bury it and cover it with about 6" of soil. I have found it breaks down really quickly in my compost bin, much faster than the other material I put in there, and it makes the whole compost bin break down quicker. Eventually it breaks down to a rich humus, alive with worms.

    As you haven't space for a compost bin, this might be something to think about? Another idea is to dig a deep hole in your border and just fill that up with the stuff you would normally put in a compost bin. A friend of mine with a small garden does just that. It will break down slowly and you can either dig up the compost after a while or start another hole somewhere else - the worms will fertilise your borders for you! If you have a lot of grass clippings, make sure you mix in plenty of brown material, such as paper, cardboard or dead leaves, otherwise it will just go slimy and not rot well.

    An Urban Composter starter kit will probably set you back about £45, and they do take up a bit of space. Ideally, you should keep them in/near your kitchen, where the waste material is produced.  If you go for the spray option, at least you  won't have to worry about finding space for a 1kg bag of bran as well, but it might be a less economical option.  I am really impressed by the results and I get a nice warm feeling knowing that I am putting waste to good use in my garden!

    Let us know how you get on!


  • oops I meant to say you might have to find space for a 20Kg bag of bran....most of us have room for 1kg!

  • Ginglygangly- Thank you for your detailed response I cannot wait to give it ago now. I will try the bran system as I do want something that is economical as well as compact I am sure I can find space for the 20kg bran bag to start with. I just want a system that can look neat and tidy as well as helping me out in the garden/kitchen.

    It sounds like you have an efficient system up and running….

    Did it take long for your composting to have a positive effect on the quality of your soil/plants? I am not hoping for miracles instantly but as you I have a city-garden but it seems to have little attention and is taking some time to get the nutrients back in to the soil. I will get started straight away and hope I can start getting some of my composted material into the boarders/raised veg plot by the spring time.

  • Hi GG12. Glad to help! The feed seemed to cheer up my potted plants over the summer. I've recently spread round some compost which included the (rotted down) contents of my Bukashi bin and the plants seem to like it - difficult to say as obviously everything is dying down now, but they do seem more healthy. The soil is certainly full of worms and they will help enrich the soil over winter.

    You'll probably fill your bin up quite quickly as you will be putting more in it than I am, so you might get a few bins full in the soil over winter - that will all have broken down in perfect time for spring planting. Do have a look at the videos on YouTube - I was not sure how much bran to use and wasn't sure what Bukashi compost should look like when it's "ready". The instructions were a bit misleading. I found some useful advice in the videos.

    It will smell quite strongly of vinegar when it gets going (even the bran does), That's normal. If you put a lot of greens in, make sure you drain off the liquid regularly or the compost will get too wet and stop working. I believe you can freeze this, so you could save it for use as plant food next spring.

    Good luck!


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