Home Composting

Do we need to compost in Orkney?

Surveys show that approximately 40% of our bin contents can be composted!

Why compost?

  • It's good environmental management of your waste.
  • It can save time
  • It provides a free resource for use in the garden

Compost happens!

New to composting?

Composting should be a rewarding activity and not a chore

  • Site your compost  somewhere convenient
  • Start with learning the basics (see "How to compost" below)
    • AIR
    • WATER
  • Experiment with your compost - there is no one "correct" recipe or method
  • Develop what works for you and your garden
  • If things do go wrong, don't panic, it's easy to rectify most common problems

Choosing a compost unit

All sorts of shapes, sizes and colours are available with different features, such as hatches or insulation.

  • All work in a similar way
  • Choose a unit that is big enough for your household. (Roughly for a family of 3 or 4 regularly eating vegetables a 200 to300 litre bin would suit).
  • Choose one that suits your needs and your garden

How to Compost

Only 3 main things are needed to make compost

  • Materials - these are usually referred to as Greens and Browns
  • Water
  • Air

Greens have a high liquid content and will bring water into the pile. Examples are:

  • grass cuttings
  • vegetable peelings
  • coffee grounds
  • Young annual weeds
  • Rhubarb leaves

Browns are dryer materials which are slower to rot but bring needed fibre to the mix. Examples include:

  • Cardboard
  • Paper (including junkmail!)
  • Twigs
  • Branches (best shredded first)

Some things are a bit of both

  • Hedge cuttings in summer
  • Houseplants with woody stems


  • Look at water within the materials
  • Additional water may be required should the heap get hot and start to dry out (a desirable result). Why not collect some rain in a bucket?


  • Material such as scrunched up paper and fine hedge cuttings will trap air inside the heap
  • Turning the compost heap will help the process - use an old broom handle and "drill" air shafts into the heap.


Materials to avoid

Although technically anything biodegradable can compost, it's strongly recommended to avoid materials which may have associated difficulties such as:

  • Meat (cooked or raw)
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Dairy products




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