Composting is an excellent way to recycle kitchen and garden waste. It is very easy to build your own compost bin and use the compost to help your garden grow.

How Composting Works

Composting is the decomposition of materials that originated from animals and plants. These organic materials can be things such as plant trimmings, vegetable cuttings, eggshells and teabags. The composting process produces a dark, crumbly matter that can be used as fertiliser in garden soil. The main stages of composting are:

  • Adding organic materials to a compost bin
  • Micro-organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, break sown the soft material.
  • This causes the compost pile to heat to around 60°C. This is the ideal temperature for micro-organisms to work at.
  • The compost pile then cools to below 30°C.
  • Small creatures such as worms and insects then break down the tougher material.
  • The whole process usually takes about 3 – 9 months, and results in a nutrient-rich fertiliser to use in your garden.
  • The compost that is ready to use can be taken from the bottom of the pile, leaving the rest to finish the process.

How to Build a Compost Bin

  • You can buy a compost bin or build your own. Compost bins are usually sold at DIY and gardening stores.
  • Build a compost bin by creating a frame out of wood and attach it to the ground using posts.
  • Your compost bin should be able to hold about 200-300 litres, try and use a bin with a lid to keep out the rain.
  • The compost bin should be placed in a well-lit and well-drained area of the garden.
  • Try and keep the compost bin out of the wind.
  • Improve drainage by breaking up the soil underneath the compost bin.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Compost

What to add to your compost pile:
  • Hair and fur
  • Shredded paper
  • Straw and hay
  • Animal bedding and sawdust
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Grass and plant cuttings
  • Raw fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Teabags and coffee granules
  • Horse manure
  • Leaves
What not to add to your compost pile:
  • Meat or fish
  • Coal Ash
  • Animal waste
  • Nappies and used tissues
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked foods
  • Coloured or treated paper
  • Chemically treated wood
  • Diseased plants
  • Persistent weeds

Other composting options

Most composting systems don’t allow you to compost cooked food and meat products. However, the Swedish JK125 and JK270 domestic composters from
SmartSoil Ltd will enable you turn ALL your kitchen waste into a nutritious soil-improving compost in just a few weeks. Details can be found on
SmartSoil’s website where you can also find details of a fully automated community composter that will take up to 50 kg of catering waste per day.

A Green Cone or a Green Johanna also allow you to compost all your food products. These unique systems use a combination of solar energy, oxygen and natural bacteria which digests all food waste, created by the average family/household, including all cooked and uncooked meat, bones, fish, dairy, bread pasta, vegetables and fruit into either its natural components of water and carbon dioxide with a minimal residue (Green Cone) or when garden waste is added, into a rich compost (Green Johanna). Both products are made using recycled materials. Visit for more information.