We have had to change the way that some of our services operate to meet the guidelines set out by the government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Composting is nature's way of recycling. It is a satisfying way to turn fruit, vegetable and garden trimmings into a dark, crumbly soil conditioner. Composting can:

  • Save you money by replacing shop-bought compost
  • Help your garden by improving the fertility of your soil
  • Save water by helping the soil hold moisture
  • Benefit the environment by recycling valuable organic resources

Choose a location

You do not need a compost bin to make compost, you can compost in situ to add nutrients directly back to your soil in compost trenches or pits. If you want to purchase a compost bin, we are working with Straight Plc to supply reduced priced compost bins to the residents of Torbay.

A compost bin, or heap, is best sited on soil but can work on concrete. Placing the bin in a sunny location will speed up the process, but it will also work in the shade. Place your bin anywhere that's convenient, but not too close to your house

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How to Compost

Check out the Royal Horticultural Society's video on making compost. Get younger gardeners involved with Composting for kids with Peppa Pig. To find out more about home composting, see Recycle Devon's guide to how to compost.

Getting the right mix

  • The most important ingredients in a compost heap or bin are Browns, Greens, Air & Water. Every heap should have a good balance of greens and browns (roughly 50/50).
  • Browns are dry, dead materials such as prunings, twigs, fallen leaves, sawdust and shredded cardboard or newspaper.  Chop materials to less than 6 inches.
  • Greens are fresh materials such as grass cuttings, raw fruit and vegetable scraps, herbivore manures, tea bags, coffee grounds, pet hair and vacuum cleaner contents. (Even though some of these look brown, they're considered green)
  • Air can be added by using larger twigs and turning the heap regularly. The more you turn the heap, the quicker it breaks down
  • Water a heap as you add to it. it should be as damp as a wrung out sponge.

Within 12 months, your compost should become earthy, crumbly and moist with plenty of worms in it. Use it to mulch trees, enrich your borders and vegetable patch, and to add to planters and pots for your flowers and indoor plants.

Too much garden waste to compost

If you have too much garden waste for your own composter, you can arrange for a one-off special collection service to collect the excess in bags. There is a £12 charge for this service for up to 8 black bags and £1 for each additional bag. Alternatively, you can bring it to the recycling centre (HWRC) (rather than putting it in residual waste) or take it to a garden waste collection point.

Community composting

Community composting consists of a central composting point which is made available for local residents to use and compost their garden waste, or where collections are made from homes.

Schemes like these, led by communities, not only help the environment but also have great social benefits. They create community cohesion by bringing local residents together with other groups and community driven organisations.

Social Farms and Gardens provides f​urther information about Community Composting, including a Community Composting Resource Pack.