Sunday 19th April 2019
The Rebirth of Decomposition!
Hats off to Suze, she did herself proud today – doing what she was doing, a job she never ever wanted to really do, but there she was feet in wellies and stomping around on the top of a six foot high neglected compost heap! The heap had not been attended since last February  by yours truly, but with the arrival of the shoulder injury, sadly composting had to be put on hold – which wasn’t a problem for the gardening season 2018 as l had just sieved off three tons of quality compost, so we had that season’s covered …. however, as written that was the 2018 season, meaning we had none for this years … 2019!
The way l do more compost is very hands on and quite hard work – but the end product is top notch quality, a beautifully enriched organic compost – no chemicals for my heap – but then l am anti-chemical for the garden, fact is we both are. But ye gawd – even at my own concession it’s hard work and certainly not in the slightest bit glamourous!
Last year thank goodness, l had already managed to sieve down the compost before the shoulder restricted me, but as Suze and l needed compost for this season, and we didn’t want to buy any externally it could only mean that someone had to sieve … Suze volunteered “I know it’s going to be hard work” she said, and here we are fast approaching midnight on Sunday and Suze is shattered with only a third if that of the compost sieved.
It was made harder due to the fact that the heap had been sitting for 14 months idle without a single forking, or a turning, no love and attention to it for 14 whole months and that is a long time, but the heap is a good quality heap and it can take care of itself which it managed to do – but that meant it was STILL going to be hard work!
During those 14 months the shape of the compost bins had changed as well, it was semi collapsed and that needed correcting and repairing, but would not be able to be achieved until we started to sort out the sheer volume within the existing pen. The empty pen where the old heap would have to be forked into had to be made ready before any major work could be done. The easiest part of the hard job ..
Clearing out and tidying up the empty pen, making ready for the heap transfer.
Preparing the compost tubs for the new sievings, empty out the remnants into a bag. The last quantities of 2018 compost can be used first in the garden.
It’s tough work and a dirty job, but someone has to do it!!
“Damn it’s hot in there!!”
And so starts the initial transfer of new green cuttings from the old pen to the new pen, the worms are looking good and Suze standing on top of the compost awaiting the sieving!
Suze just finishing off the transfer of the 2018 heap to the 2019 pen, dreading that what she is standing on top of is what has to be sieved!!
Initial transfer from old penned heap to new pen – that is the second easy part now complete, but sadly the real hard graft has to begin, which with just one person performing the task is a three day task.
Sieving starts, a real back breaking job – putting a pile of ungraded compost into the sieve and then shaking it over an empty tub to collect the rich and graded compost which can be applied direct to the garden.
Panning for black gold!
What l would normally do when transferring the old heap, and what Suze had to do, was remove any twigs, hard roots, bulbs that have decided to grow and some of the bigger stones. I deliberately place stones and small rocks into the compost as it helps to serve as an aggressor, a breakdown as the decomposition process starts. Of course when the sieving begins, you are going to have these small stones in the sieve, you just remove them and put them into the new heap, which will have all the unwanted sievings also placed into it.
Every time the grass is cut, or there is unwanted plants and foliage to be gotten rid of, in they go to the compost heap. Now that the composting can begin again, it also means that our kitchen waste can go into the new heap. We are not meat eaters, so it’s not a problem – word of advice, never put meat scraps into the heap unless you have a seriously high temperature as all it does is serve to attract predators to your heap in so far as mice and rats, or in our cases the foxes and the badgers, mostly the latter.
I am a hot composter, and as Suze found out today as she was transferring the unwanted stuff into the 2019 pen, despite unattendance, the heat from the 2018 heap was quite intense in places. Now that the sieving has started the cover will be off the old heap and the temperature will start to drop down.
Suze said she was trying to fill a bin with her first sieving and was disappointed that she failed to do so, l think she was being incredibly hard on herself – l told her it is really hard work and a very manual job which is knackering, the fact that she managed to fill just over a halfl tub on her first attempt to a 14 month old unattended heap was something to be seriously proud of as an achievement.
……….. Meanwhile under the supervision of the Furry four Legged Foredawg …..
I was setting up the shredder to tackle our perma pile of fig branches which makes for an excellent source of natural mulch. I screwed myself up a bit today, l tried doing some sieving, but realised the constant shaking to the shoulder just wouldn’t work, and even when l sawed the branches down [the real damager to today’s pain] despite keeping my sawing arm aligned with my shoulder l caused myself more damage but l was grimly determined to help as much as l could and not keep taking photos of Suze’s rump as she was bent over in compromising positions [Suze said NO to the photos being shown ha ha ha – hence why they aren’t here!!]
Furry Foredawg on guard duty!!
Was quite please with the results but had to stop because the sawing screwing up my shoulder – still have another hundred six foot branches to get through!
All in all a productive day!