Surge in interest in home composting as garden waste collections halted

There has been a surge in interest in home composting since the lockdown as councils curb their garden waste collections, horticultural experts said.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has seen increased numbers of people seeking gardening advice as the country shut down and families were confined to their homes as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Views of pages on the charity’s website on how to compost were up nearly 500% compared to 2019, in the first nine days of the lockdown up to the beginning of April.

Research on other garden jobs has also gone up, with an increase of almost 500% in people looking up how to divide perennials, and a 40% increase for both how to manage moss on lawns and sowing seeds outside.

Overall, the RHS said it has had a million views of its gardening advice pages since the lockdown began, with a third of a million people visiting the “grow your own” fruit and veg pages.

Food growing
There has also been a surge in people researching growing your own (Anthony Devlin/PA)

There has also been a surge in RHS members seeking out advice, with composting, sowing seeds outdoors and perennial dividing again among the top questions, and a noticeable rise in first time enquirers and beginner gardeners.

The RHS says it believes there are thousands more people taking up gardening due to the lockdown.

It is launching a new “grow at home” focus to share more exclusive advice for members, and promote ways and ideas to keep more of the wider public gardening.

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “Our overriding charitable remit is growing gardeners, which we do through sharing expert gardening advice, amassed over 200 years, to help and encourage everyone, from beginner to professional, to garden and grow plants.

“Over the coming weeks we will increase our video advice content and social media to help everyone, including this new generation of gardeners, to grow.

“We’ll also be doing more online and exclusively for our members who are the lifeblood at the very heart of our organisation and we are more grateful than ever for their support during this time.”

Cuts to garden waste services may have helped prompt interest in home composting (RHS/Tim Sandall/PA)
Cuts to garden waste services may have helped prompt interest in home composting (RHS/Tim Sandall/PA)

The increased interest in composting comes as more than a third of English councils have halted green waste collections, with many advising residents to compost their garden prunings and clippings at home.

Ms Biggs said composting was good for the environment and “produced the best soil improver there is”, while another popular subject – dividing perennials – was a great way to get free plants and keep beds and borders healthy.

She added: “Gardening, and getting back to nature is, we know ,good for our health and wellbeing, especially our mental health, and so we will do all we can to provide advice and ideas for people to keep growing, whether this be in their garden, or balcony or window sill.

“We also have lots of advice on house plants and how to use your cut flowers indoors.”

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