Composting Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get a compost bin?

They are available to buy at local garden centres and DIY stores or online. Also why not use up some timber or wood and build your own composter. Just look online and instructions can be found on how to build it.

How can I stop the swarm of flies that comes out every time I take the lid off my compost bin?

These are most likely to be fruit flies, indicating that there is too much green waste in your bin. Cover the waste with brown (dry) materials or a thin layer of soil.  You could also leave the lid of the compost bin off for a day or two to allow fruit fly predators such as birds to enter and eat the flies. Do not spray with fly spray. Find out more about composting from Zero Waste Scotland

What can I compost?

You should add green (wet) and brown (dry) materials to your compost.  Green materials contain lots of nitrogen. They break down quickly and help to keep the compost moist.  Brown materials contain lots of carbon. They break down more slowly and add structure to your compost. They also create air pockets which are important for air circulation.  A good rule of thumb is to add the same amount of green and brown materials. Find out more from Zero Waste Scotland

What can I do with the compost I produce at home?

There are a number of different uses for your home compost. Mulch - a layer of compost can be applied to the surface of soil. This will add nutrients, helping to encourage plant growth.  Soil Conditioner - mix compost into the soil to improve structure and add nutrients.  Lawn Conditioner - mix an equal amount of sand and fine compost and spread over your lawn.  Seed and potting mix - mix equal amounts of soil and compost. Experiment to find out the best proportions.

What is 'brown' compost waste

Brown compost waste is dry materials such as scrunched up paper & cardboard, hedge trimmings, straw, hay, wood chippings, sawdust, bedding from pet cages (as long as it is natural, rather than manmade fibres), twigs and feathers. The brown material contains lots of carbon. They break down slowly adding structure to your compost, it’s also creates air pockets with are important for air circulation. Further information can be found at Zero Waste Scotland

What is 'green' compost waste?

Green compost waste tends to be wet materials such as raw fruit and vegetables, teabags and coffee grounds, egg shells, garden and house plants, grass cuttings, weeds and cut flowers. They are full of nitrogen and break down quickly, which helps to keep the compost moist. Further information can be found at Zero Waste Scotland

What shouldn't I put into the compost?

You shouldn't put cooked food, dairy products, meat or fish into the compost as these can attract vermin. Processed food contains additives, particularly salt and preservatives, which may not degrade very well. Perennial weeds should be shredded or they may sprout.  Some people advise against adding potatoes or potato peelings to your compost, as they have a tendency to grow and you may get blight.  However, if potatoes grow, you could always pull them up. Find out more from Zero Waste Scotland

Why does my compost bin smell/why is the compost slimy?

Compost should not smell unpleasant or be slimy. If you find that your composter is too smelly or slimy, it may have too much green material in it and it may be that it lacks air. Mix in some scrunched-up newspaper, hedge trimmings or twigs. You can also aerate the compost by turning it with a garden fork, and adding a bit of earth or compost. Find out more from Zero Waste Scotland

Why should I compost?

Up to a third of your household bin can be taken up with possible compostable material. Instead of sending this to landfill,  where it has a significant environmental impact by contributing to Leachate and creating Landfill Gases like Methane and CO2 which are the main greenhouse gases, it will give your more space in your bin and create a useful free product which you may wish to use to and improve your garden soil. Find out more from Zero Waste Scotland.

Can I compost leaves?

Because leaves take a long time to break down you should only add small amounts to your compost bin.  Large quantities of leaves are best used for making leaf mould.  Leaf mould can be applied in large amounts to improve soil structure or for making seed and potting mix.  To make leaf mould simply place leaves in a separate compost bin or plastic sacks and water them if they are dry.  If using plastic sacks, tie the sack shut and punch holes in the top.  Your leaf mould will be ready in one or two years

Can I add potato peelings to the compost?

Potato peelings are always a discussion point. There are 2 schools of thought: one says do not put potato peelings or potatoes into the compost as you get potato plants growing next year with potential blight problems; the other side says that if you get potato plants, you can just pull them up.  You choose what you want to do as both points of view are valid.

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