Successful Compost

I have a compost bin, but find that when adding garden waste to it, I just end up with a smelly pile of rotting substance as opposed to anything that resembles compost, although I have watched and read many articles on this subject, nothing seems to work. Plse help..


  • davids10davids10 Posts: 895

    sounds as though it is too wet, it should be about as damp as a squeezed out sponge it could also be packing and excluding oxygen-leaves particularly can do this -a shovel or two of lively garden soil lightly sprinkled might help-other than a heap of grass clippings which went disastrously wrong compost has always been good for me-hope one of these ideas helps

  • 80smaniac80smaniac Posts: 17

    i have had a go using kitchen veg peelings,t-bags, egg boxes and grass clippings---i have used an old bucket, covered with plastic and punched some holes, do i need to keep moving from one bucket to another, or is what i am doing wrong and wont work??

  • Mrs GMrs G Posts: 336

    I have got a small cheap wooden slot together bin with a bit of carpet over the top.  This allows air in and the carpet stops it from drying out although rain can still get in.  Then occasionaly I persuade my partner to turn it for me!  I put kitchen and garden scraps in including some woody bits so it will probably take quite a while to break down.  It's best if you have space for two bins so you can be filling one and leaving the other alone to compost.  If your heap is too wet or you're putting lots of 'greens' in like grass clippings, mix it with shredded card or paper (non-shiny) torn up egg cartons are good.  This creates air pockets for the microbes and stops you getting a rancid anaerobic mess.

  • What a nightmare compost can be and Monty makes it look like child play. As i understand it  The basics are

    A layer of bark chippings or cardboard then a layer of greens until the compost bin is full.It must have some air to give it good circulation.If putting the compost bin on soil all the better as the worms  get easy access and help the process. A layer of soil is a good idea.

    Turning compost is basically speeding up the composting process you can add Garrotter to speed up the process which you can buy from most garden centres.I leave mine for over a year as i dont turn any of them.Leaves can be collected put in the compost or put in black bin liners with lots of holes in and leave them at the back of the green house for a year.Hope this waffle helps

  • Thanks to you all for your advice, I will let you know if it works!!

  • davids10davids10 Posts: 895

    i make 11 day compost-the material chopped fine and turned frequently-you need to make a fairly large heap and turn it every 2 days-it will heat to between 150 and 175F and it will be done in less than two weeks-it is a good way to do a spring compost heap

  • Thank you .

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,142

    Compost needs three things, air, heat, and dampness. I have two boxes which produce lovely compost, you have to fill one whilst one rots down. When filling use a mix of waste, some twiggy cut into bits with secateurs, some soft leaf or vegetable,  some old newspaper egg boxes cardboard and if using grass clippings just a very thin layer well mixed in. I also empty old compost from pots into it. When I start again after clearing a box I lay some twiggy stuff at the base to allow air in at the bottom and the worms to rise from below. It gets turned around once a fortnight, lift the front boards out, toss it into a wheel barrow then toss it back, the boxes have plastic bags over the actual compost to keep moisture in and a lid on the box stops it getting too wet and keeps the heat in. I used my own man made effluent as a starter keeping a large bottle in the garage to store it in and it saves having to remove boots etc to go in the house and use the toilet. I mix some of that in a can of water to damp the compost if it looks dry. It can take from three months to six months depending on time of year from green waste to compost. If you are using a metal bin as many do then tip the bin out now and then mix the compost with a shovel then re bin it, this will let in the air at the same time check the dampness, too wet is no good and too dry is worse. Compost well made takes time, in my opinion all the complaints about bought compost are down to it not having enough time in the pile to rot properly.


  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    I make my own compost and its perfect, image

    Like Palaisglide says compost needs 3 things - air, heat and dampness. And those are the only three things * I USE* to make it. Its not the grass, twigs, leaves or veg peelings that makes compost, its the micro-organisms that break it all down into compost. I just supply them with the right food in the right way in the right conditions in order for them to do their thing.

    By not providing those 3 elements in the correct balance will result in not having the right compost.

    1. Firstly, my compost holders are made from wood with narrows gaps between the panels to let in air.
    2. Secondly, I cover the top of my compost holder with black pastic and a piece of carpet this helps to keep it warm.
    3. And thirdly, I control the moisture, I lightly water it when it starts to dry out - not soak !!!


    Very important this - you also need to add the same amount of BROWN waste as green. 'Browns' provide microbes with a food source, without it, they will die or not work to their full potential

    BROWN ITEMS - things like

    • leaves
    • Pine needles
    • Twigs, chipped tree branches/bark
    • Straw or hay
    • Sawdust
    • Corn stalks
    • Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
    • Dryer lint
    • Cotton fabric

    GREEN ITEMS - help microbes grow and multiply -  things like

    • Grass clippings
    • Coffee grounds/tea bags
    • Vegetable and fruit scraps
    • Trimmings from perennial and annual plants
    • Annual weeds that haven't set seed
    • Eggshells
    • Animal manures (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, rabbit, etc. No dog or cat manure.)
    • Seaweed

    When putting green and brown waste into bin/holder it should be layered - green then brown, green, brown etc etc


    And, every 3 months or so I turn the contents over because a compost bin/holder is aerobic - it needs plenty of air. If its of the plastic kind, every 2-3 weeks because a plastic bin provides a more anaerobic (without air) environment, not really ideal for providing all 3 elements which are, air, heat, moisture. By missing just one of those 3 elements, composting will not be as successful and take longer to produce.

    Follow these easy rules every-time, and YOU TOO will have the perfect homemade compost, every year.image

  • Debbie 11Debbie 11 Posts: 22

    have just started a compost bin, only about 5-6 inches deep with stuff and have this ok???

  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    I had ants infest my compost once, and you know what I did, poured boiling hot water over the top. They never came back !!!!

  • invest in a wormery, this will take care of all the kitchen scraps and will give you lots of ready made fertiliser. The garden waste put on its own heap, i made a bin/area out of off cuts of wood and an old pallett that was laying around. Havent thrown out any garden/kitchen waste to landfill since .... well a good five years.

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