Composting for Beginners: Part 1

Hello to everyone in blog-land! I’m Martina and I’m part of the recycling team here at Aberdeen City Council. With the unusually balmy temperatures in Aberdeen recently, I’ve had my mind on all things outdoors. So I decided it would be timely to do a series of posts on cutting waste by home composting.

A few years ago, someone described soil to me as ‘a living organism’. This simple idea struck me as wild and far-fetched; how can soil be alive when, after all, it’s just dirt? Well, how wrong I was!

In fact, soil has a very complex structure and is made up of minerals, water, air and organic matter (called humus). It’s home to millions of micro-organisms, as well as lots of bugs and beasties like worms, millipedes, centipedes and beetles. In order to grow, plants feed on the nutrients found in soil, and every experienced gardener knows that good quality soil is their greatest resource. Like plants, soil also needs to be ‘fed’ to stay healthy and productive. On that topic, enter the gardener’s greatest ally: home composting!

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic waste by breaking it down so that it can be dug back into soil to replenish its nutrients. Composting is a simple and fascinating process (some might even say fun!) that anyone can do. Join me over the next few weeks to find out how and where to set up a compost bin, what to put in it, how to rescue it if it isn’t looking too healthy and how to know when your compost is ready to use. Stay tuned…

For now, though, let’s start with the basics by considering what type of compost bin is right for you. It’s useful to think about how much space you have in your garden and approximately how much organic waste you produce. Ideally, your compost bin will be situated in a sunny, flat and well-draining spot. Avoid too much shade and definitely avoid putting it on top of a concrete or slabbed area.

There are lots of different models of compost bins available to buy from DIY stores, garden centres or online. But for those who want to save a little money and challenge themselves to create something unique and fabulous, I recommend designing and building one yourself. This way, you can create a composting area that best suits you, save money and reuse materials that you have lying around.

For a bit of inspiration, here are some examples from around Aberdeen:

Martina's Compost Bin

This is my compost bin, given to me by my neighbour Alec. It used to be his dustbin but after the Council provided households with wheelie bins, he found a new, creative use for it. He cut off the bottom, turned it upside down and placed the lid back on top. Eureka! It’s the perfect, compact compost bin for my small garden. From trash to treasure, thanks Alec!

Wooden Compost Bin

This is Lorna’s compost bin that she made using reclaimed wood; hers is at her allotment and the three large sections enable her to compost large amounts of organic waste produced from growing fruit and vegetables. The pieces of wood at the front slide out to make it easy for Lorna to mix the materials inside and then remove her finished compost. A fine example, thanks Lorna!

Wooden Compost Bin

Finally, this is one of the most attractive compost bins I’ve seen yet. It’s located at Cruikshank Botanic Gardens at the University of Aberdeen. It’s a stunning garden and definitely worth a visit!

You might be interested to know that the Recycling Team have a limited supply of green cone food digesters in stock that we’re now giving away for free. Read more about green cones or email us on to get yours, while supplies last.

Tune in next week to find out what materials can go in your compost bin and how nature’s perfect recycler – the humble worm – does all the hard work for us.


4 thoughts on “Composting for Beginners: Part 1

  1. Pingback: The Compost Diet | Recycle for Aberdeen

  2. Pingback: Composting |

  3. Pingback: A Christmas Past | Recycle for Aberdeen

  4. Pingback: Food, Glorious Food Part III | Recycle for Aberdeen

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