These 8 Free Ingredients Will Bulk Out Your Compost Bins, by Huw Richards

Jeremie LitzlerAbout 3 minGardeningHuw RichardsCompost

A gardener can’t have too much compost and in fact you may not be able to create enough. Huw will give tips to how to improve that.

Some old sheep wool
I have two sheep at home and I use their wool for the garden. Credits: image taken from Huw Richards’s vlog

Thanks to Huw Richards for sharing his wisdom and knowledge! I wrote the following notes watching the vlog published on Huw Richards’s channel. You can watch it using this YouTube linkopen in new window.

Base layer

Huw applying the fibrous base layer in his compost bin
This layer needs to be thick. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

Use a very fibrous material like straw or small branches.

For example, old nettle stems work well.

It will provide enough oxygen at the base and it’s key to help the microbes thrive and develop to break down the material in the compost.

Spent compost

A wheelbarrow full of spent compost
Old compost or used compost can definitely find its place back into the heap. Recycle it! Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

It can come from buckets, module trays, hanging baskets.


Some wool
Slugs really don’t like wool as a mulch. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

It’s a natural ingredient.

You need to tear it up before throwing it to the compost bin.

Torn wool on a compost heap
Tearing the wool in small chunks help the degradation process. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog


Seaweed on some wool in a wood compost bin
Seaweed brings minerals and organic matter beneficial for compost making. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

If you live near a sea, you can take advantage of the seaweed you can collect on the beaches.

Check regulations in your area

Apparently, harvesting seaweed is regulated in some places… Ask before you get into trouble.

Regarding the salt impact on the compost created, you can lay out the seaweed on grass so rain can wash the salt off and then put it in the compost bin.

Grass clippings

Yellow grass
This is a well know ingredient that can bring a lot of heat to your compost heap. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

I took notes about another vlog from Huw on the topic. Check it out using this link.

In the compost bin, you need to make sure you collect pesticide-free grass.

Decomposed woodchips

Decomposed woodchips
It takes a while to decompose: about two years! Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog


Torn cardboard
It’s easy to collect from small businesses. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

Huw suggests to tear it up before putting it in the compost bin.

Then give it a soaking because it’s a dry material.

Used coffee grounds

It isn’t always easy to source this ingredient. Look for a shop or a pub that used a lot of it.

Sourcing organic coffee ground?

Use caution about the origin of the coffee. Maybe no coffee ground is better than coffee ground from coffee grown with pesticides and other chemicals.

Still, it’s high in nitrogen and it boosts the microbial activity.

Dead leaves

Dead leaves
When they’re available, gather as much as you can. Credits: image taken from Huw Richard’s vlog

Collect as much as you can and bag them to use later during the year.

Personal note

I’m currently gathering a lot of them. So far in early December 2022, I harvested 8 cube meters of dead leaves in various sizes.

I use it mostly to apply a blanket for the beds during winter.

Also I use it to add to my kitchen and garden compost bin as well as the composting toilet waste after emptying the bucket.

Ratio of various ingredients

You may wonder:

How much do I put of this? How do I put of that?

To keep it, simple, Huw suggests to mix up the ingredients with a fork.

Also, you can apply each ingredient in layers and if you have 2 ingredients in each category of green and brown material, spread each in several layers so no one is too thick.

Balance the green and brown material

Huw uses this ratio: for one bucket of green, he puts one or two buckets of brown.

But you don’t need to measure precisely the amount you put in.

Invest in composting

Composting is much better than investing in stock markets!

It doesn’t cost anything often except your time and ingenuity to source material around you.

It helps you grow better and stronger vegetables that will help you reach more self-sufficiency in food.

Start now! Start today!

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Contributors: Jeremie Litzler