Composting – your questions answered!

We understand that all this talk about compost can get a bit confusing so we’ve put together answers to frequently asked composting questions to help answer your queries and more importantly get you composting.

1 What is composting?

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Composting is a natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance called compost, which is a wonderful conditioner for your soil!

2 Why should I compost?

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There are a number of great reasons to compost!
-Give your plants a health kick
Organic matter is often called the ‘soul of a healthy soil’. By adding compost to your garden, your plants will grow bigger and better because organic matter in compost helps your soil to hold onto nutrients and water.
-No need for expensive gardening products
By using compost as a soil conditioner, you don’t need to buy expensive lawn or garden products. Composting will also help to reduce the amount of waste we produce as a borough and save the cost of collection and landfill tax!
-Practical and convenient
Got lots of leaves and garden waste? Simply add them to your compost bin, rather than taking them to the tip.
-Good for the environment!
Did you know that in Barking and Dagenham we produce on average one tonne of waste per household each year? By composting all organic waste, we can reduce that by a whopping 30 per cent!

3 What should I compost?

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Anything that once alive can be composted, but for home composting avoid wastes that attract pests and diseased or insect ridden. Fatty food items like meat and cheese should be avoided because they can attract rodents, raccoons, dogs, cats, flies and other pests. Eek! Heavily diseased or pest-infected plants should also be avoided.

4 How long does it take to create compost?

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It can take anywhere between 9 months and 1 year to get nice crumbly compost!

5 Does composting attract mice, rats and pests?

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If you follow the guidelines regarding what to put into your compost bin you shouldn’t have any problems with pests. Pests are attracted by high fat and protein foods, like meat oil and cheese, but if you only include vegetable scraps, fruit peels and garden clippings, this shouldn’t be a problem.

6 Can I compost in winter?

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Yes! Contrary to popular belief, cold climates shouldn’t affect your compost bin too much. Microorganisms actually generate heat!

7 How does composting work? How do I control it?

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Bacteria, fungi and other microbes do the work during composting. These microbes produce carbon dioxide, heat and water while they break down the materials in your pile.

8 How do I use compost?

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Compost can be used for soil conditioning, lawn dressing or a potting. The ideal time to apply compost to soil is 2-4 weeks before planting. And, if you want to improve the structure and fertility of poor soil, give it a thorough compost treatment in autumn.

Have you got other questions about composting? Use the #SlimYourBin hashtag on Facebook and Twitter to ask us and your fellow residents!

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