The recent harvest fail whale was a big old kick up the backside for me. I realised that I can’t go on adding the odd bag of compost here and there and hope for the best – I really need to invest properly in my soil and make sure that it’s as rich and fertile as I can make it (organically, of course). We also struggle to get rid of our green waste – the two small sacks provided by the council are really inadequate for us, and I have a tendency to leave piles of decomposing weeds all over the place, which isn’t ideal. And why should we give green waste to the Council, when we can make use of it directly here, and save lots of pennies on buying in organic compost?!
So I’ve been on a bit of a Compost Quest of late. We had a scrubby patch by the shed that was one of our infamous dumping grounds for garden stuff (mostly logs that need to be chainsawed down to size for the fire, a job that I never seem to get around to), so I decided to make the space more productive and erect a couple of simple but effective open compost bins.
We have one open compost bin already, but it’s been full for a few years and I wanted more compost bays that would allow me to spread the compost out, and turn it when necessary. So over the course of a week (because it takes Rich and I an age to do anything), we set to work.
After ensuring there was nothing nesting in the scrub (bees, mice, shrews, hedgehogs), I did a cursory clear, removing as much bindweed as possible, and any nettles. I’d bought a selection of large wooden fencing poles/stakes from our local Gardener’s Association (much more economical than garden centres or DIY stores) at around £3-4 a pop. We rented out a post hammer and slowly but surely bashed the stakes into place. With Rich directing the construction, the spirit level was put to good use, to ensure that the posts would be level, despite our wibbly-wobbly ground level.
Once the stakes were in place, we simply tacked some galvanised chicken wire around the bays. Eventually we’ll add some gravel boards at the bottom to stop spillage, but for now the bays are proving extremely useful and so easy. I am much more inclined to do weeding and clearing, since I don’t have to bag up the weeds or find a space to ‘temporarily’ dump them – they have a home!
I’ve also begun to move the half-decomposed material from the top of the old compost heap into the two bays in a bid to get them to decompose faster. The contents of the old bin is quite dry on top, so hopefully mixing it all up on a regular basis will speed up the composting process.
I am looking forward to getting to the bottom of our original compost bin… it must be a good five years since we accessed whatever’s there, and I imagine with all the chicken poo, grass clippings, straw, newspaper and annual weeds that were added to the mix, there’s “gold” in that there compost heap.