Hozelock's Guide to Composting

Composting is a natural and environmentally-friendly way to turn kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost.

Reasons to Compost

Be environmentally responsible by limiting domestic waste going to landfill

Composting reduces the volume of waste in our dustbins by 30%. Also, landfills give off methane, which traps heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise.

Produce a 100% natural soil improver and fertiliser to enrich your soil

Improve the structure of your soil by mixing in homemade compost. It will lighten and break up heavy soils and bulk up light sandy soils. Therefore, it helps to hold more water and is a sustainable, slow-release, plant nutrient.

Reduce the level of pollution released into the atmosphere

Composting your garden waste reduces the need for polluting bonfires. By producing at home you reduce the amount of plastic required to package compost, soil improver and fertiliser. Therefore, cutting down the levels of waste disposal as well as transportation.

landfill plastic waste pollution

Avoiding the use of peat within compost to reduce emissions

Most commercial compost uses peat. In the UK, more than 24 million wheelbarrows of peat are used every year and degraded peatlands are responsible for 5% of our CO2 emissions. Homemade compost is peat-free and sustainable.

garden trowel in compost and soil

Save money on compost, soil improver and mulch

Purchasing compost, soil improver and mulch can be a costly expense depending on your garden size. Therefore, composting can save you money over time, as well as being a great benefit to the garden.

What is Composting?

WHAT IS COMPOSTING

Composting is the conversion of organic waste in the presence of air.

Composting is a closed loop process whereby you create waste, compost waste, use compost. It is a 2 to 12 month process depending on the type of composter and incorporates micro-organisms, earthworms and insects.
Temperature

Humidity

Worms

Worms

Leaf

Garden Waste

Veg

Kitchen Waste

Mix

Mixing

What is composting

What to add to my compost?

Browns

High in carbon, taking time to compost on their own.

  • Leaves
  • Cardboard
  • Sawdust
  • Egg-boxes
  • Newspaper
  • Junk mail
  • Shredded paper
  • Kitchen roll
  • Woody prunings

Greens

High in nitrogen, moisture and rots very quickly.

  • Vegetable and fruit waste
  • Grass mowings
  • Soft prunings
  • Plant debris
  • Annual weeds
  • Coffee grounds
  • Hay
  • Cut flowers
  • Hedge clippings

Activators

To assist in speeding up the composting process.

  • Comfrey leaves
  • Bought compost activators
  • Human urine
  • Bokashi contents
  • Nettles
  • Manure (horse/cow)
  • Pond weed
  • Aerate
  • Shred everything

Avoid

Should not go into to your compost mix.

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cooked food
  • Bread
  • Bones
  • Dairy products
  • Cat/dog poo
  • Any plastic/glass/metal
  • Citrus peel and onions

Composting Golden Rules

Diversify the inputs of waste
Firstly, types of waste should be balanced, the ideal ratio is 40% green matter/wet waste to 60% brown matter/dry waste. The mixture should be moist like a sponge you have squeezed.

Maintain humidity

If it dries out too much, the micro-organisms die and the process stops. Too much humidity prevents aeration, slows the process down and gives off unpleasant smells. Therefore, if your compost is drenched, it will rot. A balance of humidity is key.
Compost Location
Location is important
Leave your composter half in the shade to avoid the compost drying out in very hot weather. Keep sheltered from the rain, for example, next to a wall, but not too far from the house, for easy access.
Mixing Compost

Aerate and mix your waste

The input of oxygen accelerates the process, turning it over once or twice a week is ideal and also limits bad smells. Most importantly, chop the contents up small as possible.

Composting Solutions

EasyMixComposter-Product
Keep Outdoors
For small and medium gardens
6-8 Weeks

Tumbling Composter

Aerobic fermentation (presence of air) by means of micro-organisms.

The pros:

  • Compost juice byproduct

  • Compact

  • No rodents

  • Very easy to mix

  • All garden and household waste

The cons:

  • Optimally used with 2 composters: compost in preparation and compost ready to use.

4193 0000_BOKASHI (6)-HD 2
Keep Indoors
For small gardens
2 Weeks + 1 Month rest

Bokashi Composter

Anaerobic fermentation (no oxygen) by means of micro-organisms.

The pros:

  • Compost juice by-product

  • Quick

  • Free from smells when closed

  • Compact

  • No Rodents

The cons:

  • Smells when open

  • No garden waste

  • 2 composters in rotation

Plastic Compost Bin throwing away scraps
Keep Outdoors
For medium and large gardens
6-8 Months

Plastic Compost Bin

Aerobic fermentation (presence of air) by means of micro-organisms, insects and worms.

The pros:

  • Compact

  • All garden and household waste

The cons:

  • Hard to mix

  • Presence of rodents

Compost Heap with fruit and veg
Keep Outdoors
For large gardens
9-12 Months

Compost Heap

Aerobic fermentation (presence of air) by means of micro-organisms, insects and worms.

The pros:

  • No limit on volume

  • All garden and household waste

The cons:

  • Takes up a lot of space

  • Unsightly

  • Labour-intensive to mix

  • Long process to produce compost

What to do with your compost?

Use “young” compost (half decomposed) for mulching

Cover the soil with a layer of “young” compost roughly 3 to 5 cm deep as a mulch this will protect the earth against sunlight, rain and wind and will regulate temperature. It maintains humidity and limits the formation of weeds to gradually release nutrients into the soil.

Compost Spreading in the garden at home

Use “ripe” compost (totally decomposed) as soil improver

Ripe compost will have an undergrowth smell and be dark in colour with a lumpy structure. Incorporate the ripe compost into the surface of the soil down to a depth of between 5 and 10 cm. Mix 2/3 of the ripe compost with ordinary soil, it will be easier to work and more fertile.

Composting mulch dark

How long should I leave the compost to rest and mature when it is 75% full?

6 to 8 weeks, to ensure proper maturation of the compost. Ideally, you should buy 2 composters for continuous composting (one composter being used and one composter maturing).

Spread on new or established lawns

Add a one- to two-inch layer of compost on top of your lawn in the weeks before planting. This will add key nutrients to your soil, allowing your seeds to thrive.

Composting Seasonal Tips and Advice

SPRING

Spring is the best period for starting to compost.

As temperatures are rising and micro-organism activity is on the increase. After the slow down in decomposition of the compost in the winter, remember to regularly mix the contents of the composter to aerate it and restart fermentation. However, be careful not to overload the composter, in this season the garden renders a great deal of green waste. Remember to keep the surplus waste in a heap next to the composter for use later on.

2811-FlowerPlanter-Patio.jpg

SUMMER

Keep an eye on your compost mixture.

Make sure the compost does not dry out too much in the heat, and spray with water if necessary. This will help in keeping your compost full of moisture, reducing the likelihood of it drying out. If your compost is too dry, try keeping it in a cooler location in your garden, rather than in direct heat.

Sunny Flowering Garden

AUTUMN

Store your dried leaves

As in the spring, keep a heap of dead leaves at the back of the garden for later. This will not only limit the amount of leaves placed in your composter over Autumn, but will certainly be beneficial come spring and summer.

Autumn leaves in a composter

WINTER

Expect your compost to slow down.

The drop in temperature reduces micro-organism activity, so the composting process will slow down considerably. This is to be expected, especially in the colder Winter months. However, as soon as the weather picks up again in Spring, so will your compost mixture.

composting in the winter

Using your compost

Tree in the forest garden

Trees

Spread the compost around your tree roots, this will supply nutrients that help protect the tree from diseases. Put roughly a 5-10cm layer of compost, but try to avoid spreading on the tree trunk, as the roots will absorb the key nutrients.

herbs fruit and vegetables grown using home compost

Herbs and vegetables

Adding compost to your fruit, veg and herbs is one of the best things you can do. Simply add your mixture to your plants with each rotation. If you are preparing your soil for spring, add a large layer of compost to your garden bed in the winter months. It will be fully decomposed and ready by spring.

Herbs in planting pots with compost

Plant Pots

Your compost can be used for outdoor and indoor plants. Remove the top level soil and add a few centimetres of compost to your pot. Start by adding smaller amounts and tracking the health of your plant. You can always add more further down the line.

fresh growing lawns with compost

Lawns

Create a mix using compost, sharp sand and soil. Start by spiking your lawn thoroughly, then apply a very thin layer of your mixture. Spread using a rake, ensuring you can still see the grass. Mature lawns will benefit greatly from this, however, younger lawn can be scorched easily, adjust your mixture accordingly using more compost for older lawns.

Sunny Flowering Garden

Flowerbeds

Spread a 10cm layer of compost into the soil before planting flowers. If you are adding to a flowerbed, thinly spread your compost around the base of the plants. Be cautious of adding too much, a little goes a long way.

2817-WaterButtBorderKit.jpg

Borders

Firstly, rake out any fallen leaves and debris and remove any weeds. Hoe the top layer of soil, then spread a 5cm layer of compost on top. Make sure to leave spaces around any new plants allowing them to acclimatise to the surrounding soil first.

Mulch in compost at home

Mulch

Adding your compost mixture to woodchips or bark will help improve drainage, making it more moisture retentive. This is a great way to maintain to your garden throughout the year. Adding mulch after it has rained will help keep the moisture in the soil.

2811 FlowerPlanter-Step3square.jpg

Planters

If you are using a planter, simply crumble your compost around the base of the plants. This will improve the growth and health of your flowers. Especially when using the Hozelock Flower and Vegetable Waterer, your flowers will benefit from nutrients and a constant water supply.

Composting FAQ

COMPOSTER FAQ

Compost heaps should only attract the odd animal looking for scraps. If this is a regular occurrence, it’s possible fish, animal fats and food cooked in vegetable fats have been added to the pile. Therefore, anything that you may think may attract a rodent, you should consider removing from your composting process.

For more long term solutions, consider moving your compost into a more secure area or ensure you have a bin with a locking lid. You could use wire mesh for keeping out rodents, but this is not the most attractive method.

Don’t worry! This is to be expected, simply sift out any larger parts within your compost that haven’t yet decomposed and return to the compost bin. Mix with your garden soil for a nutritious blend. Even though it may not look pretty, it will certainly do the job.

  • Try spreading some coffee grounds at the bottom of your compost heap, this will assist in getting worms to your compost.
  • Add your compost and other organic material, such as manure, to your garden. Worms will be on the search for this material and attract them to the vicinity.

You certainly can compost all year round! Due to the freezing temperatures in winter, the composting process may slow down, however, continue to add to your compost as the  temperatures rise in spring. This will break down everything you added during the winter period.

Try altering the way you compost:

  • Is your pile too dry? Add some moisture every so often.
  • Is your pile too wet? Add some brown materials such a leaves, hay or shredded cardboard.
  • Is your pile too small? The more you add to the compost, the better the results.
  • Too little air? Look at altering the air intake for your compost, keep track of its effectiveness.

It can be difficult to know when your compost is ready to use, especially when you are adding to it regularly. However, alternating between 2 composters will help with this. Look for the indications bellow to determine whether your compost is ready to use:

  • Dark
  • Crumbly
  • Broken down
  • Earthy soil-like smell
  • No distinct foul smells

Choose a location that will be both in and out of the shade, out of the hot summer sun if possible. This location needs to be accessible by those using it, yet in an area where possible smells won’t be a concern. Avoid placing where new trees, plant and roots could be present.

Gloves provide a barrier between your hands and the compost.

However, the only real reason you will need gloves would be if manure is used within the composting process.

High-carbon materials consist of brown or woody materials such as autumn leaves, wood chips, sawdust, and shredded paper. Having too many high-carbon materials can be a problem, especially in autumn. If you have too many high-carbon materials, try storing them away before adding to your compost. In order to help balance out your compost, add in more “greens” (Vegetable and fruit waste, grass mowings, coffee grounds, hedge trimmings etc.) You can use your stored away brown in the summer, when these are more difficult to come by.

Fertilising your compost is not an essential step, yet it can help:

  • Bring nutrition to your compost
  • Add key nutrients
  • Compliment your compost mix
  • Assist in the fast release of nutrients

No. Sowing, potting and multipurpose compost will be different from your home grown. Compost purchased from shops may include shredded bark, sand, coir and fertilisers. You will know what your compost contains, and more often that not will be a more sustainable method of composting, as well as being incredibly healthy for your garden.

EASYMIX COMPOSTER FAQ

No, ideally you need to mix it with earth

  • For mulching: spread a layer 3 to 5 cm deep
  • For planting: mix 1/3 compost and 2/3 earth
  • For upkeep of your garden: dig the compost into the soil 5-10 cm deep

You can get 40 to 50 kg of compost with a 75% full EasyMix composter.

Vegetable garden = 7 to 4 kg per sq m

Flowerbed = 1 to 3 kg per sq m

Lawn = 2 kg per sq m

  • 2.5% = 1 litre of liquid plant food for 40 litres of water (automatically dosed with the Click & Spray adaptor)
  • It takes 2 to 3 months to fill up the tank
  • You can keep the composter in the garden, or on a terrace or balcony or in a garage, as the compost is not in direct contact with the ground
  • It can thus be kept somewhere easier to access than with a conventional composter
  • Once or twice a week, and whenever you add waste to it
  • In the winter the temperatures fall, so the activity of the micro-organisms also decreases.
  • You can continue to add waste to your composter, but remember to add brown matter, not just peelings.
  • The product’s materials withstand extreme temperatures and frost
  • It is guaranteed for 3 years*

* in normal conditions of use (see our After-Sales charter)

  • It has been designed in such a way that the rainwater falling on the drum is not collected in the tank under the drum
  • The composter is made with over 85% of recycled and 100% recyclable material, hence its dark colour (several plastics of different colours are blended)
  • Black retains the heat and encourages decomposition thanks to a quicker rise in temperature
  • The 4 air vents around the tank help the oxygen circulate evenly inside, to activate aerobic decomposition (which requires air) by means of the micro-organisms
  • 28 cm, wide enough to add waste and to insert a spade to retrieve the compost

Symptoms and Remedies

Composting Symptoms and Remedies

Find out more

Hozelock

We offer a range of spare parts over on our Spares site. To find out more, please visit our dedicated Spares Website

Can't find what you're looking for?

Contact our customer service team at Hozelock, who are dedicated to finding a resolution to your queries.

Hozelock

We offer a range of spare parts over on our Spares site. To find out more, please visit our dedicated Spares Website

Can't find what you're looking for?

Contact our customer service team at Hozelock, who are dedicated to finding a resolution to your queries.