Sunday 1 May 2016


1st-7th May is Compost Awareness Week!

Lots of information about different types of composting at

We have a fairly large garden so have lots of grass-cuttings, clippings, weeds and leaves to dispose of. So composting is the obvious way. Indeed we also need as much nutrients as possible to rejuvenate the soil in the veg plots and around the fruit trees and bushes. I also use the compost for seed-sowing and potting. This is a little problematic in that our compost heaps don't get hot enough to kill off weed seeds so along with lettuces I get a lot of weed seedlings, mostly chick-weed and nettles. That's OK because I can recognise them and quickly pull them. On the Carry-on-composting site they have suggestions for gently pasteurising compost in the oven or microwave. However, although this process will probably kill some seeds and bugs it may also kill off good organisms too.

Our compost regime

We have 3 composting bays in a row made from a wooden frame and sides. The bottom is open to the ground. They are about 2 metres square. We rotate them as:
  1. Collecting
  2. Maturing
  3. Using
and the cycle takes about 18 months.

We dig them all over from time to time to get a good mix and aerate the compost. A rather motley collection of plastic roofing and wood panels provide part-shelter from the rain to avoid it getting too wet. It's also easier to deal with compost from the Using pile if it's not too wet.

What we put in:
  1. Grass cuttings
  2. Non-seedy annual weeds
  3. Plant waste from tidying borders etc
  4. Smaller prunings and cut-up twigs
  5. Kitchen waste - peelings, etc (except for potatoes and bought-in onions)
  6. Fallen apples
  7. Leaves
  8. Plain cardboard and paper (i.e. stuff without shiny printing)
  9. Dirt from the vacuum cleaner
  10. Ash from the wood-burners and bonfire
What we don't put in:
  1. Rose branches and twigs
  2. Thick twigs and branches from pruning
  3. Potato peelings and bought-in onions (potatoes harbour viruses and I'm still nervous about the allium leaf miner which I'm sure was originally brought in from purchased onions.)
  4. Couch grass, ground elder
  5. Seedy annual weeds. (Must get to them earlier!)
  6. Moss - takes forever to rot
This latter list goes on the bonfire and then the ash from the bonfire goes in the compost.

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