Composting Top 10s

Top 10 composting tips

Here are my top ten composting tips for achieving great compost, which will help you keep your soil in great condition year after year. Using these composting tips can be the difference between a good year on the allotment and a poor one, especially if you’re fond of growing fruit and veg that thrives in nutrient-rich soil.

1. Get the green/brown mix right

The microbes that break down your compost pile need a balanced mix of nitrogen and carbon to thrive. While this may sound complicated, it simply means that you should aim to add an equal amount of ‘green’ materials (such as kitchen waste, manure, and grass clippings) to your compost heap as ‘brown’ materials (such as dead leaves, hay, wood chips, and paper). Try to keep the ratio approximately equal (by weight, not volume), and your compost will thrive.

Top 10 composting tips

2. Use a starter

Give your compost a kick-start with a compost accelerator, such as this one from Neudorff. This will help activate the microbes responsible for breaking down organic matter into compost.

Top 10 composting tips

3. Give your compost a drink

Adding wine to your compost at regular intervals will also spur the microbes and bacteria into action, as will the waste products which come from brewing beer.

Top 10 composting tips

4. Add paper

Newspaper or standard printing paper is a great and easy available source of ‘brown’ material for your compost. Instead of recycling it, shred it and mix it into your compost heap.

Top 10 composting tips

5. Give your compost a helping hand

The smaller the items that you put into your compost are, the faster they will be broken down into usable material. Give your compost a helping hand by cutting food waste down as small as you can before adding it to your heap. An easy way to do this is with the Green Cycler from Ecotonix.


6. Don’t add fats, pet droppings, or animal products

Fats, pet droppings, and animal products will attract pests and can spread disease, so you should avoid adding them to your compost.

Top 10 composting tips

7. Be sparing when adding ashes

When adding ashes as a ‘brown’ material to your compost, be very sparing, as the high alkaline content can affect the pH level of the compost and stunt production. Be similarly cautious with acidic materials such as pine needles and oak leaves.

Top 10 composting tips

8. Be careful when adding straw

Straw is another excellent ‘brown’ material for your compost, but it may contain weed seeds, which will take root in your developing compost and sap it of nutrients. Regularly check your compost for weeds, and avoid adding straw entirely if it becomes a serious problem.

Top 10 composting tips

9. Speed things up with a hot composter

Hot composting is a process that usually involves a compost bin or tumbler which gets the material to a much higher temperature than a traditional compost heap. This dramatically speeds up the process, and this method can produce usable compost in as few as 14 days. Mantis produces a wide range of hot composters which you can order online.

Top 10 composting tips

10. How to know when you have compost

You know you have compost when it looks, feels, and smells like rich, dark soil all the way through. It should be unrecognisable from any of the items you added to it, and it will usually be less than half the volume of the materials you started with.



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