Composting Garden Waste

Tuesday, 4 February 2014  |  HOTBIN Composting

Most things from a domestic garden can be composted with a little care and time. You can speed up the process by shredding or chopping thick, woody stems, as this helps the bacteria to reach the soft digestible cellulose behind the protective bark. The length of time depends on the size of the pieces and whether the wood pulp has be de-lignified in the pulping process.

Garden Waste

Will It Decay

Cold

Hot

HOTBIN decay rate

Comments

Accelerator Powders

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fast

We do not recommend adding these into the HOTBIN.

Alfalfa

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Autumn Leaves

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Can be hard to break down - we recommend adding dried and roughly shredded autumn leaves in small handfuls each week.

Bird Feathers

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

 

Bone Meal/ Blood Meal

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fast

These can help speed up composting.

Branches

Yes

Yes

Yes

Very slow

The larger the branches, the slower they are to compost. You really should shred or chip.

Coir - Coconut Husk Fibre

Yes

Yes

Yes

Very slow

Takes a long time, but the fibres do mix in.

Conkers

Yes

Yes

Yes

Very Slow

Protective shell will take longer to compost. Chopping or smashing them up will help to compost more efficiently.

Couch Grass

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

Should only be added once the HOTBIN has reached 60°c to ensure that all of it is composted effectively.

Diseased Plants

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

High temperatures kill disease virus/bacteria.

Deep Rooted Weeds -  Dandelion, Ground Elder Etc

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

 

Fertiliser - Ammonium Sulphate

No

Yes

Yes

Fast

Limited value & high cost.

Flowers - Stems, Dead Heads, Roots

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Shell of Garden Snails

Yes

Yes

Yes

Very slow

Speed up composting by crushing the shells - please check they are empty first!

Grass

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

Grass is a large volume waste. It can be tricky to compost quickly in a cold compost bin. We recommend drying the grass out slightly to prevent excess water from entering the HOTBIN.

Grass Sods

Yes/No

Yes

No

Medium

Adding these will only block airflow through the HOTBIN. Only the grass composts.

Grass With Weed Killer On It

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

Domestic weed killers are biodegradable - please check individual product instructions.

Green Leaves

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

Shred waxy leaves.

Ground Cover - Nettles

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Hay

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Herbicides

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

Domestic herbicides are biodegradable - please check individual product instructions.

Hydrogels - SAP, PAM

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Slow

Can also be added to soil.

Japanese Knotweed

Yes

Not Advised

Not Advised

Medium

 

Leylandii Conifer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Ensure these are well shredded or chopped and add in small amounts rather than a single layer.

Lime - Calcium Carbonate

No

Not Advised

Not Advised

-

Lime is not biodegradable. It also affects the pH levels and can stop the composting action so is best left out.

Moss

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Takes ages - it is best added in small amounts each week.

Old Compost

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Acts as a fantastic kick starter! But do not add too much.

Other Non-Native Weeds

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

 

Perlite

No

Not Advised

Not Advised

-

 

Pesticides

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

Domestic pesticides are biodegradable - please check individual product instructions.

Pine Cones and Pine Needles

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

 

Plants With Fungus On

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

High temperatures should kill the fungi.

Prunings

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Shred or chop where possible.

Ragwort

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

Should only be added once the HOTBIN has reached 60°c.

Rock /Volcanic Dust

No

Not Advised

Not Advised

-

We question the reason for adding small rock particles to compost.

Rhubarb Stems & Leaves

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Seaweed

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

Ensure the salt is rinsed off. Seaweed is thought to encourage other materials to break down more quickly.

Soil

No

Not Advised

Not Advised

-

It seems counter-intuitive not to add soil however, try not to! Large sods and/or thick layers prevent aeration and could cause your HOTBIN to become anaerobic. You only need to use a small handful to inoculate a new heap.

Slugs & Snails

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium (shells - slow)

Kinder to add once dead - the high temperatures would kill them.

Straw

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medium

 

Twigs & Brambles

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

 

Vermiculite

No

Yes

Yes

-

Can add to soil.

Weeds - Convolvulus, Dandelion, Bindweed, Buttercup & Horse Tail

Yes

Not Advised

Yes

Medium

Safer to compost in a hot composting bin - as the seeds are likely to survive cold composting.

Waxy Leaves - Ivy, Laurel, Holly

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slow

Shred or chop these before adding. Do not add in thick layer and mix in well.

Worms

Yes

Yes

Yes

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