Composting is big business these days because getting rid of waste has become so expensive. We produce more and more household waste and our local authorities have to get rid of it for us. This pushes up waste removal costs and our therefore our Council tax. So it’s a double whammy – but by composting we can help keep those costs down and get free compost for our gardens.

There’s even a national composting week in the Spring where we are all encouraged to start composting. Its one of those few campaigns that actually makes sense. Just think of what you throw away that could actually add something to your garden beds – and its all for free!

So how do you start? Well the easiest way to compost is to get a ready-made compost bin. These are the black plastic dalek-like bins that come ready constructed. All they need is a garden space where the base comes in contact with the earth to encourage all those insects and worms that will do your composting for you to get into the waste material and start their work. It takes less than a minute to get started. Even better, in their efforts to encourage composting our local authorities are keen we have these bins and you can often get them very cheaply. One Council I know offers them at 10% of the retail cost. I’ve just added another bin for just £4! Just look on your Council’s website or in the local library.

You can use timber sided composting bins in larger gardens. They look better but remember that the black plastic bins are sometimes better because they are pretty much rodent proof and in a town garden where we have small spaces next to houses that’s going to be vital. Timber constructions are a bit more open to rodents but I find that, combined with some netting, they make for much better leaf based compost.

It’s very easy to get composting. Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Compost vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, grass cuttings (greens) that are quick to rot and provide nitrogen and moisture. Egg shells, egg boxes and fallen leaves (browns) provide fibre, minerals and important air pockets. Don’t add cooked products, even vegetables and definitely no meat or dairy products.

The key is to get the mix right with a proper mix of all these greens and browns, keeping the mixture damp with enough air mixed into the structure. My top tip is to use shredded paper for the air. We’re all avoiding identity theft these days and I know that my old bank statements and chequebooks don’t even leave the house but end up in my garden now!