Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Hi Gardening Group

I was hoping for some tips on home composting.  Following the garden waste changes I am determined to exhaust garden clearance options at home before I sign up to the scheme.

I have a standard 300litre(ish) bin and despite trying to balance green and brown waste (per internet tips), it still seems to be very sludgy at the bottom and smells like stagnant mud.  Nothing that I'd like to spread on the veg patch or the spongy, woodland-smelling compost that I thought it would produce according to tips I've read online.

It gets a decent mix of cuttings, kitchen fruit and veg scraps, grass-cuttings (every 3 weeks or so in Summer), shredded cardboard and the occasional weed...

I occasionally stick the fork in and give is a turn, and the other weekend I resorted to completely emptying it (much to the dog's delight) and re-stacking.

All tips most welcomed!

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Replies to This Discussion

If it is wet at the bottom then mixing in cardboard and sawdust will help soak some of the moisture up. I find this happens in the autumn when the pear tree drops. The moisture fills up the pore spaces in the mixture and stops air from getting in. At this point the mixture becomes anaerobic (hence the smell).

So, apart from the above, you have two choices. Leave it and it and the worms will ultimately start to bring it back into aerobic balance. Or, (as I do) you can turn it over properly and more regularly to get air in, and keep the worms alive to do their magic. This will help the mixture compost down without it becoming anaerobic!

Hope that helps.

We have a large bin resting on soil in the corner of the garden which never gets too wet - if anything it always seems too dry, presumably the moisture just soaks into the soil. It does produce "woodland-smelling compost" eventually but seems to take forever, probably because we haven't been very fussy about what gets thrown in

We also have a 3-tier wormery which we use for vegetable waste from the kitchen. All the liquid collects in the bottom and can be diluted and used as plantfeed.

Our bin gets a bit too wet too, but never quite to sludge and it turns into compost quite quickly. To redress it I've started using our shredder to shred paper and putting that in too, and we've also upped the amount of cardboard.

Two things that really sped up how quickly we produced useable compost were: a) making sure you cut things up before putting it in (but appreciate that takes time ..) and b) mixing it whenever we put new stuff in. Something like this also helps: https://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/flexi-compost-aerator.html (am sure we didn't spend this amount - but this is the sort of thing to look for). 

Also see this about composting grass: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/grass-clipp...

 

I'm not sure if you have already done this, but... holes at the bottom of the bin as well as all the way round it (the more the better) are vital; and yes - more cardboard, more regular tipping-out and turning, and adding a dollop or two of garden soil every time it's tipped out and turned, make all the difference. I turned two bins of foul-smelling slime into completely usable compost by doing these things.

If you have space for a second bin next door you can turn your compost by shifting everything from one bin to the other.

Back in my composting days (I moved away from where I had my community garden plot and will move from here before I get to the top of the allotment waiting list) I had great success with a bokashi bin. It basically pre-treats food waste and means you can put cooked food and meat in the compost too. After a couple of weeks when you put it in with your compost it breaks down very quickly and acts as an activator on the rest. It's a compost probiotic.

Many thanks indeed for all your helpful suggestions - certainly lots to be working on and I'm hoping the bin's contents are on the road to recovery now!

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