Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Right then, 'Grow our own' Compost

Glorious stuff, your own compost. A sense of the full circle of life, not to mention saving money on muck! It always feels slightly wrong paying for other peoples' rotted stuff - like modern art -I sometimes feel, "hey I could do that myself!".

So, this is something we can all do and again - my favourite thing - save money, whilst doing so. Andrew has been an avid composter for a few years now, I don't know how many times I've been called over to smell the stuff and feel how good it is, not the mention the heat - "Oh, get in there" he cries, "It's brilliant!". That was only when we had a bin out in the back garden, the passion has intensified now we have 2 (and thinking of a 3rd) at the allotment. The enthusiasm has rubbed off though I must say. I was once in Greenpeace as a teenager (oh, the rebellious nature of my youth, hehe) and was fanatical about glass recycling, now that's covered by the Bryson House recycling collection, I'm now someone who looks for paper to shred and collects every potato peeling. Nothing gets past me.

We got our bins from the council - £10 each I think, I'm sure Andrew will correct me if I'm wrong. (I was wrong.....they're £5 each - thanks honey!)
First thing we do with them is drill holes in the sides, all over, this really helps the process we've found and gets air in around the rotting stuff. It doesn't get damp in there and therefore not stinky. Of course you know what you can and can't compost (no cooked foods, big bits of wood and nasty weeds etc), for the most part it's grass and dead flowers, bits of veg but you have to balance this with dry stuff like newspaper, cardboard and even hay (let the grass lie out if the weather is good). Whatever you do, make sure it's small bits of things, cut them up or use a shredder. Look how much fun a garden shredder is... The pic on the right is all our old squash plants and half our garden hedge clippings.

Well rotted manure is great too, from farm animals; not meat eaters - I recently learnt that you can use hamster, rabbit, gerbil etc droppings too, never thought that household pets were so Eco friendly. We only have the wonderful Maggie - a dog, don't even think about composting that stuff!!!

Apart from what you put in the bin, layering the stuff and turning it (mixing it up) is the most important thing to remember. If you have loads of grass put loads of newspaper on top etc. Try to create layers, like a sponge cake. Kind of.

Soon with a bit of heat and some luck (as always) you should get good soil conditioning compost. Though it's always good to have a bag of muck in the shed too, I like to have a back up! Here's and after and before picture of what's going on with our bins at the mo.
Note about Autumn leaves:
When there are loads of leaves dropping at the same time, it's much easier to make a wee leaf pile; they take a good while to rot down and thus slows up the the bin system. Just plonk a few poles in the ground and surround them with chicken wire, shove them all in and make sure the leaves get wet. Then forget about them.

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