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Food for Life - Schools Programme

                                                                                    

Composting FAQ

Can I put windfall fruit into my compost bin?

Yes if you squash the fruit before adding it, it will help to decompose a lot faster.

What about Rhubarb Leaves?

Rhubarb leaves are poisonous when eaten, but can be composted as they are harmless when they have been decomposed.

Should I add activators?

Not necessarily, they work by adding extra nitrogen, but grass cuttings do this naturally and will speed up the process of de composure. Remember to try not to put too much grass cuttings in at one time as this will go into slimy, smelly mush.    

Alternatives are – Nettles, comfrey and seaweed.                     

When will it be ready for use?

Best used when all matter is broken down into a darker colour and gives off an “earthy smell”.

Doesn’t need to be fine in texture.

How long does it take?

It normally takes around 9 - 12 months before compost produced in a bin is ready to use, the more you add the faster the process is, also keeping the heat in will speed it up so try and position your bin in a sunny spot.

“Turning” the compost with a fork will help everything combine and break up. Turn every week if possible and remember to shred and chop materials into small pieces.

Insect’s within the compost bin?

Fruit Flies – Tiny in size, completely harmless, can be black or white in colour. There may be more in summer months, because of increased temperatures. They help breakdown the compost and are particularly attracted to fruit and veg scraps.

Woodlice – These are essential, and will be found in any compost heap. They especially breakdown wooded or carbon rich materials.

Bees – The bumblebee is the more common to have built a nest within the compost. If concerned contact an approved Pest Controller, or you can continue adding to your compost as by October/November the nest will be empty, and you can move the nest to a sheltered more secluded spot – do not leave in the compost bin as you may end up with more nests the following year.

Ants – Also harmless, are useful to the composting cycle because of the tunnels they create leaving air pockets trapped within the compost they also add phosphorus and potassium to the mixture. Try adding onions or a quantity of water to the heap or leave the lid of´f for a few days to deter them.

Slugs/Snails – Particularly helpful, try adding them from you own vegetable bed. If there is enough food in your compost then they won’t be attracted back to you lettuces!!

Nasty Smells!

Place a layer of soil on top of fruit and vegetable peelings and add an equal mix of green and brown materials to reduce odours.

"It never worked last time"

If your compost bin content has turned into a slushy gloop - don´t despair because it can be rescued!  Just add more browns to even up the mixture and put a lid on to keep rainwater out.  If it´s too dry add more greens and a small amount of water then turn and mix the contents regularly.

Do´s

Greens - Fruit and vegetables peelings, old flowers, grass cuttings, spent bedding plants, tea bags, coffee grounds and filter paper.

Browns - Fallen leaves, egg boxes, torn up cardboard, scrunched up paper, twigs, branches and bark.

Add an equal amount of greens and browns to produce dark, crumbly compost.

Don´ts

Don´t add meat, fish, bones, cooked food, dairy products or fat to your compost bin as it can attract rodents.  Good deterrents are prodding, turning and disrupting the contents and adding a plastic base or strong wire netting secured to the underside of the bin.