Content strategy (for your shredded paper in compost) on BBC Gardener’s Question Time


Normally more concerned with content strategy for law firms and their websites, keen gardeners might have heard our director Sue Bramall posing a question about the content of her compost bin on last week’s edition of BBC Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time. 

A mad keen gardener, like many others during the COVID-19 crisis Sue has been working from home where she has been generating quite a bit of shredded paper, and her question to the team at GQT was: 

How much shredded paper can I safely add to my compost bin, or my pile of leaf mould

Here is a link to GQT At Home: Episode 5 (Sue’s question is 19 minutes into the programme). 

So, if you are in the same boat, and wondering what to do about the shredded paper that you are generating at home, here is the advice from the GQT team who are also all working from home: 

Bob Flowerdew, who did a composting masterclass the previous week (and always mentions urine) responded: 

It is fine to add paper, if it is already shredded, but it needs to be moistened, so moisten it with any vile liquids, anything that you have got left over that is wet,  and obviously once again I’m going to have to mention it – urine, because pee is really rich in nitrogen, and paper is really rich in carbon. The two together rot down magnificently and produce heat, and so if she has got enough of it, she might even think about building a hot bed with it and putting some compost on top and growing a melon.” 

Bunny Guinness said: 

“I would do a layer of the paper, and then a layer of grass clippings or greenery, and as Bob says, they do need water. Because it is so dry some people just put sprinklers on their compost bins to keep them moist, which if you have not got lots of urine is quite a good solution. 

I wouldn’t put it on the leaf mould, as I understand it, leaf mould works by breaking down mainly through fungal action, whereas compost is more bacterial, so I would keep them quite separateI always put my shredded paper on my compost heap if it is not going in the chicken hut – the chickens like it as well to nest in, so I toss it up between the two, and obviously after the chickens have dealt with it that’s wonderful to go on the compost heap, because it is wet and smelly and lovely. 

Matthew Wilson uses lots of shredded paper in his hot composter: 

… which takes all his shredded paper and absolutely devours it and cannot get enough actually.  In a hot composter, it is the reverse of what Bob is describing to an extent because in that environment it is actually keeping some of the moisture away and keeping it more open and allowing more air into the hot composter so it works very well in that regard.” 

Sue has sent off for the melon seeds but is not having much luck persuading the men in her family to take tinkle in her compost heap! 

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