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Restarting failed compost

I have a tiny back garden where the last tenant had left a black plastic standing up barrel compost bin. I tried to use it, turning it, putting in veg scraps and grass cuttings, sometimes layering with compost starter granules. However it has never really worked properly. Should I start again - empty it and bin the contents? Or can it be saved? I left it for the winter and it's mouldy at the top. I could even get rid of it altogether and just use the small kitchen waste bin that the council collects. What plus sides there are trying to get it working? Grateful for any advice! image


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,230

    When you next cut the grass ( do not use grass cuttings that have had lawn weedkiller on), empty the bin out, add the grass cuttings, mix well the old stuff that has not broken down with all the fresh green grass cuttings. water it if it is too dry(fresh urine or water). chuck it back in the bin and stand well back. If that doesn't heat up within 48 hours , give it up as a bad job.  it should heat up and sink to about half the original level. At this point you need to empty it out and chuck it back in again to get some air in and it should have a second heating up. If it gets too  dry add more urine or water.

  • AWBAWB Posts: 421

    In my opinion you should have a minimum of two black bins.A layer of the old muck, fresh grass cuttings another layer of muck again grass etc etc.Regularly turn from one bin to the next, you soon have a good compost.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Air and water; green and brown.  Mix 'em all up and stand well back. 

    Something highly nitrogenous like urine, fresh grass cuttings or dried blood would be a good activators.  Even if this mixture doesn't get hot (and, tbh, unless it's a cubic metre it's unlikely to get really hot) it'll still make decent compost.    Someone I used to work with used to swear by seaweed extract too.  It certainly produced enormous parsnips.

    Turn it when it's cooled down, or if it hasn't heated up after a week.

    The big plus is that you get a load of rich, black, crumbly compost that will improve any soil, encourage earthworms and other good beasties and possibly contribute to making your own potting compost.  All of which produce better crops!

    (Gets off hobby horse...)

  • TuiskuTuisku Posts: 4
    Thank you all! I will lift the bin and see what's inside (exciting). Never know, there may be some nice compost at the bottom! I have acquired a pitch fork so aerating it will be easier now and I'm due to cut the front lawn so will have grass cuttings. I will try to get it hot up and will report back..
  • archiepemarchiepem Posts: 1,155

    hi tuisku . where and what does the bin sit on ???

  • TuiskuTuisku Posts: 4
    It sits directly on the ground, next to a worn concrete path, a fence on the left, small currant bushes behind and lawn on the right. The lid and the top of the barrel get a fair bit of sun helping it to warm up inside. The bottom part is in the shade.
  • archiepemarchiepem Posts: 1,155

    if its on the soil .you should be ok  keep mixing . and maybe some compost tea.(urine)

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    (Edd - tact is NOT my middle nameimage)

    Tuisku, if the contents of the bin are wet and slimey, follow Edd's advice; if dry follow Fidget and Steve. Get back to us anyway when you have figured that one out and we between us can probably tell you more than you ever wished to know about compost.image

    The really good thing about making your own is that you are keeping some stuff out of landfill and generally helping the planet. Plus saving money on expensive and 2nd rate growing mediums.

    Good luck with it.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    tbh, artjack, I think most councils compost their organic waste and sell it back to us these days, so most of is doesn't get tipped.  But I def. agree in principle.. I throw away hardly anything!

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    Steve, I have visited the very wonderful high tech indoor composting site in Norfolk. It takes in all the kitchen waste that we put in little bio-degradable bags, plus all the garden waste. It has to be indoor because they are dealing with fish and meat waste from our kitchens and they do not want vermin and they DO want a lot of heat. The wonderful compost is then sold to Farmers, NOT the public as it contains fish and meat 'stuff' and is deemed to be safer for farmers to use, as they 'handle' it all through machinery, than having the public use it and risk small children having contact with it.

    The EU banned any new landfill sites being started in about 2007, I think. We now have the problem in the King's Lynn area that the Council want to build an incinerator. This incinerator would take household rubbish from a huge area, so we would have large lorries constantly bringing vast amounts of rubbish to King's Lynn (bear in mind we do not have any motorways in Norfolk, in fact we have very few dual carriageways)

    This is an out of date technology where the filters do not get rid of the dangerous particulates. (I am no scientist - I may not have the right terms)

    I am only mildly hysterical about this issueimage

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