Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Top tips to maximise how much compost you make.

As I have already mentioned in my previous posts on composting, we make a lot of compost here at Compost Mansions.

We compost as much stuff as we can, as we want to maximise the fertility of our land and what better way to put back the nutrients we have taken out by growing veg, than to compost the peelings, weeds, leaves from the plants and add the compost back to the soil.

We also don't want to generate any more greenhouses gases than we have to by sending putrecible waste to landfill, to sit there and generate Methane, which is more than 20 times worse a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide.

By composting everything and anything available it is possible to dramatically increase the amount of compost you produce. But to get the best from the composting process it is important to know what can and can't go in the compost bin.

Remember, to get the ideal compost mix you will roughly need a 50:50 mix of both "green" (high Nitrogen) and "brown" (high Carbon) containing material in your bin.

So, here is a list of things which can be composted.


● Fruit scraps (including citrus peel)
● Vegetable peelings
● Tea bags
● Old flowers
● Spent bedding plants
● Rhubarb leaves
● Comfrey leaves
● Nettles
● Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed and speedwell)
● Pond algae and seaweed (in moderation)
● Coffee grounds and filter paper
● Grass cuttings
● Manure (horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, rabbit – not too much as could become too wet)

Human urine is a very good activator!

I stockpile various weeds and prunings and grass cuttings from the lawns, until I have a good quantity of raw materials to fill up the compost bins.


● Tissues, paper towels and napkins (unless they have been in contact with
meat or disease)
● Tumble dryer lint (from natural fibre clothes)
● Old natural fibre clothes (e.g. woolly jumpers or cotton t-shirts
– make sure you cut them into small pieces)
● Vacuum bag contents(as long as you have natural fibre carpets)
● Garden prunings
● Toilet and kitchen roll tubes,
● Woody clippings
● Dry leaves, twigs and hedge clippings
● Human and pet hair (slow to break down)
● Cotton threads/String(made from natural fibres)
● Feathers
● Wool
● Newspaper(scrunched up)
● Shredded confidential documents
● Straw and hay
● Vegetarian pet bedding
● Ashes from wood, paper, or lumpwood charcoal
● Sawdust and wood chippings
● Corn cobs and stalks
● Cereal boxes
● Corrugated cardboard packaging (scrunched up in small amounts)
● Pine needles and cones (although slow to compost don’t put too much in)
● Egg shells (but crush them first to speed up composting)
● Egg boxes (good as they trap air)

I keep a few "browns" bins in the house which I use for all the little bitty bits of card, paper, tissue etc which is too scrappy to recycle, as well as a caddy for peelings, tea bags, coffee filters etc ec in the kitchen.

I am always on the lookout for cardboard sheets, from shops or from Freecycle.

I add the used wood based cat litter to a special bin, having first removed the cat faeces ( these can contain pathogens which might be harmful to humans) This bin also contains the roots from pernicious weeds ( dandelions, nettles etc) which I do not want to spread around the garden. I use the compost from this bin in the bottom of holes where trees are going to be planted or spread it under a hedge bottom.

If you have any other things you add to your bins, which are not on my list, why not leave a comment!


  1. Hi,
    Love your site! Can you advise about the use of wood ash from a wood burner on a compost heap. My other half read somewhere you shouldn't use it if you use firelighters to light the fire. Is this correct?

    1. You know Merry, I don't know the answer to that? I will try to find out for you. Watch this space...

    2. It is fine, but add in small quantities at a time :)

  2. You can often get coffee grounds from the local coffee shop for free!

    I love your list of paper products, some of which I have never tried before. Because I live on a relatively small lot that I have converted largely to working garden space (perennials, vegetable beds, restored woodland, restored prairie, and orchard) I always despair of generating enough compost from the materials we have on hand. It seems I never have enough.

    1. Yes, Starbucks give away bags of used coffee grounds and so do small cafes, you just need to go and ask :-)

  3. I've got lots of wild watercress growing in a stream. I clear it once a year but it weighs a ton and I'd love to compost it. I'm scared that I'll spread it round my garden though. Any thoughts?

  4. May I ask why you clear it? if it is in a stream it is a valuable habitat for wildlife of all sorts?

    My thoughts are this if you do have to clear it for some reason, I would suggest composting it in a HotBin which is working at 60 c minimum so all plant material is killed off, or pull it on a very hot day and leave it to dry out until dead and crispy, or failing that immerse the pulled watercress in water and weigh it down so it "drowns" until it is well rotted and dead - then compost the sludge, a bit like bind weed. Not sure if this will work tbh but it works for bindweed so would maybe work for watercress.

  5. I clear it because it starts to move up the bank and encroach on the planting in my garden. I have plenty of "habitat" surrounding my garden so I don't think it's an issue :)
    If I try the drowning approach, does it get very smelly? Is stagnant water a problem?

    1. I would keep it outside with a lid on, as I suspect it will be a bit smelly.

      I have found a lot of watercress regrowing in a pot that I thought it had died in - was about to put it on the compost heap so have now tipped it into the HotBIn :)


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.