My husband and I bought a house with a compost bin. The house has been vacant for several months, but there is stuff in it from the previous owner. Should I empty it out and start from scratch or can I add to what's in it?
Use It and Add Away
If the house has been vacant for a while some of the compost at the bottom of that bin might be ready to use. I'd be tempted to empty the bin, or if it's a small bin just lift it off the compost inside. Then refill the bin with any of the material that needs more time before it's ready.
Go ahead and use the decomposed material. The best way to use it is to simply place it on top of the soil in an area. Don't dig it in, let the worms be the ones doing the digging.
Then just carry on adding your compost materials on top of the stuff from the old owners. Do make sure the material is moist and do your best to keep the ingredients you add to the compost in balance. If you need a review check out the composting basics page.