Free online composting training now available

Learn more about composting with our free online course. Provided by Garden Organic, the course is packed with information to help you get the most out of composting. 

The course has five modules that you can select, from basics to in-depth knowledge, including videos and quizzes. 

Each section lasts 10 to 20 minutes. You can come back to the course at any time so it doesn’t have to be completed at once.

To sign up:

  • click on the button on this page
  • select guest access
  • sign in using guest access with the password: NSComposting21

What is home composting?

Composting at home is an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way to manage your garden waste. It also provides you with free nutrient rich compost you can use in your garden.


How to get started with home composting

You can buy a discounted 220 litre compost bin made from 100% recycled plastic for just £10.

The home composter has the following features: 

  • Capacity: 220L capacity
  • Colour: black
  • Size: 740mm diameter and height 900mm
  • Design: includes a hatch at the bottom for easy access to your compost
  • Material: made from 100% post-consumer recycled material
  • Supplier credentials: the supplier indicates through the Carbon Trust that its carbon footprint is 9kgCo2e

You’ll also have access to a free e-learning course to help you make the most of your home composter. 

Other compost bins

To buy a wider range of compost bins and accessories, visit Get Composting. Enter your postcode into the Get Composting website to buy wormeries, bokashi bins, water butts and more.

You will be entering into a direct relationship with Get Composting and any operational issues over damaged goods, non-supplies etc are not issues to be resolved by the council. View Get Composting’s privacy policy by visiting the Get Composting website.

Benefits of composting

Composting is beneficial to you, the council, and the environment:

  • Saves you money on buying compost
  • Reduces plastic packaging and car miles when purchasing compost
  • Protects the planet by reducing waste sent for disposal
  • Limits the amount of peat used, a natural resource in decline
  • Provides a habitat for minibeasts and worms and creates a food resource for hedgehogs and birds
  • It is good for the garden as it feeds plants and helps control diseases
  • It helps maintain healthy plant growth. Composts are soil-enriching and provide essential nutrients
  • Improves soil structure and health

How home composting works

Compost is easy to make and use. You want to aim for a good mix of both ‘green’ and ‘brown’ material.

  • Green materials include plant cuttings, weeds, grass cuttings, hedge clippings, cut flowers, animal manure with straw, fruit and vegetable peelings
  • Brown materials include autumn leaves, cardboard, egg boxes, eggshells, paper bags, wool, straw, shredded paper, and used kitchen roll

Avoid putting dog poo, cat litter, cooked food, bones, plastic packaging, and coal ash in your compost bin.

The success of your compost will also be dependent on the environment you provide for the microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and worms) that help these brown and green materials rot down.

A good composting environment needs four things:

  • Air: oxygen for aerobic decomposition
  • Water: essential to live
  • Shelter: protection from the elements and provide a home
  • Warmth: the warmer microorganisms are, the more they will feed and reproduce

It will take around a year for your compost to be ready to use. It will be dark brown, slightly moist with a crumbly texture and smell earthy. Expect it to have twigs and bits of eggshell in it. It may not look like shop bought compost, but it is good to use. When the materials are added gradually, it is known as cold composting as the temperatures reached in the compost bin are lower.

Larger bits can be sifted out and returned to your compost bin if they need a bit longer to break down.

Compost bins for small spaces

A wormery is a small container housing a colony of special worms, which digest cooked food scraps and small amounts of garden waste. Wormeries produce a small amount of compost and a liquid, which forms a concentrated plant food. They are self-contained and require no access to the soil. You can buy these online at Get Composting or make your own.

Wormeries can be used to compost cooked and uncooked food waste and are a practical alternative to compost bins, especially if you have limited space and only produce small amounts of waste.

Other types of composting

Hot composting

Hot composting is traditionally done where there is more space and larger volumes of materials available for composting. For hot composting to work, enough green and brown materials should be gathered to fill the composting bin or bay in one go.

Equal volumes of green, nitrogen-rich materials must be layered with brown, carbon-dense materials. The moisture level is very important. Add a little water as you layer up the materials.

After this, the heap should be covered. Within a few days the temperature will increase. Typically, the temperature will remain hot for one to two weeks before cooling. When the temperature drops, turn the materials to introduce oxygen. This should cause the temperature to rise again. Repeat this process a couple of times.

Leave the finished compost to mature for 1-3 months. Due to the consistently high temperatures, this process forms compost much quicker than cold composting.

Community composting sites often use hot composting. This is where residents within a defined area take their garden waste to be composted on a specific, designated local site. Visit our community composting page for information on how to set up your own project.

Bokashi bins

Bokashi bins allow you to compost all your food waste, including cooked food and meat in one container. Bokashi bran is added to food waste to help it ferment. After a few weeks the waste can be added to a compost heap or dug straight into the ground.

You can buy bokashi bins and different compost bins through our partner Get Composting.

More information

Visit our Master composters page for more information on how to get involved or to request a volunteer attend your event.