What is home composting?

Home composting is using your kitchen waste and garden waste to make your own nutrient rich compost that you can use to help feed your flowers, plants and vegetables.

Home composting is a year round activity that won’t take up all of your time. To help you on your composting journey we have teamed up with Sow the City community group to provide our composting new starters and veterans some hints, tips, and expert information.

We’re really excited to be working with Sow the City. They’ve been doing community based environmental activities and learning across Greater Manchester for over 10 years. They’re also a wonderful bunch of people, passionate about composting and always eager to help people get started. So, if you’ve got composting questions or if you’re not sure you have enough space to compost, get ready to ask our experts.

Read third blog about how home composting helps tackle the climate crisis

Get your discounted compost bin

To kickstart your composting journey or expand what you’re already doing at home we’re working with Get Composting to provide residents in Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford the opportunity to get a discounted price on the most popular compost and Bokashi bins. Our offer also includes free postage and packaging. Just put in your postcode and you’ll see all eligible discounts.

How to use a Bokashi bin

Compost bin in garden shrubbery

Make the most of autumn leaves

Did you know you can make leaf mould? All you need is a big plastic bag and some leaves.

Or if you grow vegetables,  you can chop up the leaves and spread them over your  garden, it will rot down over the winter and you just dig it in before planting next year.

A person raking leaves from a lawn

Why is home composting important?

By composting your garden and kitchen waste you are reducing the amount of waste going in your food and garden waste recycling bin. Composting at home provides a home for a range of mini-beasts and worms that turn your food and garden waste into compost.

Mix of food and garden waste in a compost bin

Where can I buy a compost bin?

  • contact your local community garden centre may have home composting kits and some advice of how to set it up
  • most large DIY (Do It Yourself) shops will sell a range of home composting options
  • your district council may also offer discounted compost bins visit  ‘get composting’

The benefits

  1. Reduces the amount waste going into your wheelie bin
  2. Fun activity for all ages
  3. Save money from buying compost
  4. Know exactly what the compost is made from
  5. Nutritious for your house plants, window box or garden
  6. It’s wildlife-friendly
  7. Reduces the use of peat-based composts
  8. It will not contain any artificial chemical pesticides and fertilisers


Composting FAQs

Where should I put my composting system?

Most composting systems should be in shade and away from the sun. Ground-based compost piles and bins should be placed on bare soil so that bugs and worms can get into your bin. A wormery can be placed in a shed to protect it from extreme weather conditions. Bokashi containers can be kept in the kitchen.

What can I add to my compost?

Visit the Compost Instructions website for a list of what you can and can’t add to your compost bin.

Should I cover my compost?

Yes, especially in rainy Greater Manchester! A cover stops it becoming waterlogged in winter and keeps moisture in during the summer. You can cover open compost piles with things like plastic, old carpet or plywood.

The Myths

Composting takes too long

To begin with, the progress may seem slow but once you get going you will have a supply of compost all year round. This does depend on how you manage your compost and the type of composting system you use. Compost turned regularly can take between 6 months and 2 years to be ready. Composting is not a sprint it’s a marathon!

I don’t have time to compost

Compost doesn’t take much maintenance time at all!  The only difference is that you are putting some of your food waste in your compost bin instead of your wheelie recycling bin. You just need to turn the compost once a week.

I don’t have a garden / my garden is too small

You don’t need garden or a lot of space to start composting. There are lot of different sizes and types of bins and containers – you  can even make your very own!

It  will attract rats

There are two reasons why mice and rats may be attracted to compost. One is for food and the other is warmth. To stop this from happening, bury food waste in the compost and remember don’t put meat, fish, bones or dairy products in your compost. Place the bin on a surface rats and mice can’t burrow under, like thick wire mesh. Also turn or mix up the compost regularly, this will discourage any nesting.

Trouble shooting

My compost is smelly and slimy…

A well-managed compost should not smell or be slimy, but if it does there a few of reasons why this may be happening:

  • The compost may be wet, possibly from the rain and not getting enough air
  • There is too much green materials in the compost such as grass clippings and food waste.
  • Your compost has animal products in it such as meat, fish, bones or dairy products.

Make sure your compost is  covered, turn the compost and add some drier ’brown’ materials such as leaves, hedge cuttings or shredded plain paper or card and give it a good mix. Only put raw vegetable and fruit kitchen waste in your compost or consider a composting system specially designed to take all food waste such as a Bokashi bin.

My compost looks too dry…

Add more green waste such as veg peelings, grass cuttings.

There’s flies…

It’s a fact that flies are attracted to rotting food. However, there are simple ways to avoid your compost attracting flies. Make sure you mix and bury your food waste within your compost. You can also add a layer of brown materials such as leaves, shredded paper, or sawdust on top of each time you add food waste. If you do get flies try leaving the lid off for a few hours on a sunny day, then place a layer of wet newspaper on top to create a barrier before you replace the lid.

Mix of food and garden waste in a wooden crate

Home composting do’s…

  • Mix a variety of other vegetable food scraps with grass clippings and leaves. Clippings tend to compact, which may stop the flow of air through the pile.
  • Keep the pile damp, but never soggy.
  • If adding vegetable food scraps, be sure to bury deep within the compost pile

Home composting don’ts…

  • Don’t add fish, meat, dairy products, bones, fatty foods or grease to your compost. These food scraps do not easily decompose and may attract animals
  • Don’t compost diseased plants or plants that are toxic to other plants. Also, avoid weeds, which produce lots of seeds
  • Don’t add pet poo or pet litter

Did you know?

Sometimes hedgehogs may find a home in your compost,  it’s warm and full of worms! So when you decide to turn over your compost just check that it is a hedgehog-free first!

To find out how you can encourage wildlife into your garden, yard or window box download the My Wild Garden booklet 

Hedgehog in a garden

Do you have questions or tips to share?  Comment below.


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