Updated: Aug 4, 2020
By Caroline Richardson
Composting is the new craze.
With people now preparing and eating far more meals at home, and for those lucky enough to have a garden, now is the time to start home composting.
I have been a composting nerd for years and I am also on a team of Food Waste Champions based in Overton (on behalf of Hampshire County Council). Our aim is to make the village as sustainable as possible and composting is a great place to start.
Some of you are way ahead of me. The Royal Horticultural Society has had a 500% increase in views of its relevant website pages in the last three weeks of March compared to the whole of 2019.
It’s a great way to recycle and reduce waste. In Hampshire 35% of the rubbish in our general bins is food waste with another 3.6% garden waste. Fortunately most of it is diverted away from landfill (where it produces harmful methane gas) and is processed safely at energy recovery facilities. However, there are still better ways environmentally of dealing with food and garden waste, such as home composting it, or reducing the amount created in the first place.
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted regular garden waste collections and Household Waste Recycling Centres, so there’s all the more need to recycle as much of that green waste ourselves. Keep an eye out for special offers from the County Council who offer a limited number of subsidised compost bins via its website from time to time. There has never been a better time to give it a go.
You will also get rich nutritious plant food for free! And if, like me, you do still use some shop-bought compost then you will know that it was in short supply while the garden centres were closed. It’s not a quick fix for all those plants that need potting up now because it takes six to nine months for your batch to be ready but when that crumbly, black, sweet smelling compost tumbles out of the bottom of your bin it is worth it!
There is a science to composting and you do have to be careful what you put in your bin. “Green matter” rots quickly to produce nitrogen and includes grass clippings, leaves, vegetable and fruit peelings and coffee grounds. This should take up 25% - 50% of your bin’s contents. The rest should be “brown matter” which is more fibrous and rots slowly to produce carbon. This includes cardboard, egg shells, straw and prunings.
Hampshire County Council has plenty of advice on composting on its Smart Living website pages. If you don’t want to buy one, you can make a heap in a sunny corner of your garden from wooden pallets or old planks. There are also a range of alternative options, such as wormeries, for those with limited space for a full-size bin. It doesn’t have to be pretty – it’s what is on the inside that counts!
For more guidance plus details of current compost bin offers visit www.hants.gov.uk/smartliving" www.hants.gov.uk/smartliving
Article reproduced by kind permission of the Basingstoke Observer