Composting throughout the seasons

Composting happens all year round so find out what you can do this month to make the most out of it

Spring

Hedgehog in the grass

As the temperatures begin to rise after the cold winter months, the contents of your bin will break down quicker.

Give your compost a boost by adding early grass cuttings and food peelings. Give it a turn with a fork. This introduces moisture and nitrogen.

You might even have some compost ready to use. Don't forget to check at the bottom!

Summer

Red and purple meadow flowers

During the warm summer months, the composting process is at its quickest. If you find it gets too dry, add more green materials (such as grass or peelings), or add a small amount of water. Try to layer your green and brown materials. Give the contents a mix every so often to add air pockets.

What to put in your compost bin

Autumn

Red leaves in sunlight

As the cooler weather comes in, the compost process slows down, but there's plenty of activity still going on.

You may have an abundance of leaves in your garden this time of year. Add these in small amounts, as they break down slowly.

You can compost leaves separately to make leaf mould. This takes about two years to form, but is highly beneficial for your garden. Pile them up in a mesh frame or keep them in black bin liners with holes poked in for air circulation.

Other items for your bin during Autumn include:

  • spent flowers
  • unwanted parts of vegetable crops
  • general garden clippings

If you have any leftover pumpkin from Halloween, chop it up and add it to your compost bin. Smaller pieces work best.

Winter

A plant in the snow

You may spend less time in the garden during the winter, but there are plenty of things which can still be added to your compost bin.

You may have extra fruit and vegetable peelings or nut shells leftover from Christmas. These make great compost.

If you bought a real Christmas tree, cut it up into small pieces and add this to your compost bin. If you used natural decorations, like holly or pine cones, don't forget to add these too!

The warmer your compost bin, the faster the material breaks down. You could wrap a piece of old carpet around the bin to keep it insulated during the frosty months.

What should I do with the compost

Planting flowers

Potted plants

Compost is great for indoor and outdoor potted plants.

Add a layer of compost to provide a boost of nutrients, such as nitrogen and iron. Leave a gap around the stem if possible.

If you are growing from seed, mix about a quarter compost with three quarters regular soil. Home-grown compost can be too strong on its own.

Mulch

If your compost has not completely broken down and still has a few leaves or twigs left in it, this 'rough' compost can be used as a mulch around trees and shrubs. This can help prevent soil erosion, suppress weeds and keep moisture in the soil. Particularly useful for warm summers.

Making a flowerbed

If you are making a new border or flowerbed, dig a 10 cm layer of compost into the soil.

If flowers are already established, add a layer to the top. The worms will get to work mixing the compost in.

Having trouble with your compost? See the composting problems page for solutions!