Gardeners Be Doin’ It Too! Part 5

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From This …………

…………….To This!

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Dedicating this mini series to Patti Moore Wilson of Wednesday’s Child

Doin’ The Dirt Directory

Part 1 – Why Should

Part 2 – What Is?

Part 3 – What Types

Part 4.1 – Vermicomposting

Part 4.2 – Alternative Composting

Part 5 – How To

Part 5 Is going to look at How To Actually Compost!

We have looked already at many aspects of composting, leaving the best to last – making an aerobic compost heap from scratch.

There are four main beauties in my eyes to composting: Compsting Benefits

Compost is a remarkable organic soil conditioner.

Compost adds valuable cultures to your soils.

Composting is great for the environment and eco-system.

Composting your own wastes reduces the impact on landfill sites.

Reminding us constantly that none of us are too small to make a difference!

Leaf Web3

Classic Eggshell Moments

Composting your Compost Pile

The secret to a really healthy compost heap is not just the contents or ingredients if you wish to your magical formula, but also how you plan the garden recipe. A good recipe well thought out initially will help prepare you mentally for the future of your composting seasons.

Your compost heap needs to include mixtures of carbon and nitrogen or what l simply refer to as brown, green and abstract.

Carbon items [Brown] is things like stems, bracken, dried leaves,  branches, wood chipping, bark chippings, sawdust, shavings, shredded paper, egg cartons, coffee ground, tea leaves, egg shells, straws, hays, peat, old compost, dirt, moss, fire ash. Whilst nitrogen [Green] items are the likes of food scraps, manures, lawn mowings and green foliage, whilst abstract is mostly things like stones which help l believe in the aerobic side to things as well as an accelerator.

A compost pile should have more carbon item [brown] than nitrogen items [green]`- work on the premise of one third green to two thirds brown. Basically the bulkier items allows the air to enter the heap and feed the cultures or microorganisms. Too much green [nitrogen] and you are closing off those airways and this makes for a much heavier mixture and switches it from being open air aerobic to closed unit anaerobic which then in turn means it will be slower to decompose and runs the risk of smelling. If in doubt always add more carbon mixtures to your pile and always where possible try and have the last [top layer] being carbon [brown], doesn’t always work like that of course, but if you work on the two third carbon basis your pile will always be aok.

If you wish to quicken the decomposing process up, try and cut down the amount of bulky items. Branches could be chipped or cut into smaller pieces and added that way. Thick vegetable stalks could be crushed underfoot and made smaller. Whilst lawn mowings are great for the heap, always try to be mindful of their heaviness. So if you have a lot of grass to add, try and add leaves or some carbon items to the clippings instead of just throwing all the grass in at once. If you do not  have leaves, then always ensure to rake the density of the grass into the rest of the heap.

Of course that movement is quite specific to the set up you have for composting as in if it is a heap boxed in in comparison to a heap without any restraints.

If you have too many leaves, and before this injury l used to love collecting up leaves from all around the neighbourhood. Bag them, pierce the bags so they can breathe and store them seperately to your main pile. Or alternatively you might think about creating and crafting up a leaf composter.

 

 

 

 

 

The video above is a great inspirator as well as incredibly informative.

Something which l have mentioned briefly as well as touched on is the word Tea – there are a lot of different types of Garden Tea you can make which are superb for your garden plants.

Compost Tea

Worm Tea

Bokashi Tea

Grass Tea

Leafmold Tea

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How to Actually Compost in Easy Steps.

The photographs used are not from a new heap, but a transfer from an existing heap to an empty bin, during one of the weekly turn overs. You can very clearly see the layers where they were built up in the classic brown brown green layering strategy. And how it compacts down after such a small amount of time. Because l was turning this pile weekly it meant that the decompostion process was much faster than normal.

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It’s best to start your heap on naked earth. This allows for worms to be able to enter the bottom of the heap literally from the ground up. Worms alongside compost cultures and effective microorganisms are your truest friends.

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For my first layer, l tend to place twigs, stones, broken earthenware like pots, straw, a sprinkle of grass mowings and some kitchen scraps. I do this for two reasons, 1] the kitchen scraps are to lure the worms up to start on the heap and 2] to aid the aerobic or breathing status as well as to aid with drainage.

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I start the layering process of carbon carbon nitrogen or brown brown green. I alternate where l can between moist and dry components like grass clippings and leaf mold. I also add in shredded cardboard or paper and some more stones. I do this to try and prevent any clumping. Clumping of materials will result in a much slower decomposition process.

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I continue to build up the layers always ensuring l have a carbon layer on top. But equally shredded paper, stones and between each layer l dampen it down with water to make it moist but not soaking.

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I just continue this layering either all the way to the top or in the case of a new heap till the materials run out. I add food scraps in which ever level l am able to and food scraps after the heap has been turned or constructed can just sit on the top underneath the covers.

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At which point l then close the heap down and cover with a tarpaulin, but a ground sheet or even an old shower curtain will do the trick. Whilst you want to have it moist, if it gets caught open during a ran showers period, the heap will be soaked and sodden, and generally overwatered which will not help the breaking down process at all.

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At this point it’s down to you, and how fast you want the end product. if you want it fast, then my advice is to turn three times a week for ultra fast turn around of waste to product in the space of three months during summer and autumn. Or once a week for a turn around of perhaps five months. Once a month turn over will have your compost ready in the space of around 9 – 12 months. The more often you turn your heap the more often the pile is aerated.

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Now of course not everyone can turn a heap for whatever reason, time restraints or physical restraints and these as options should be considered very early on in the stage of deciding what type of heap you want as well as how often you want the product itself.

I have never used one, but many people swear by ‘rotating compost tumblers’. The link below displays how you could make your own. Failing that, you can buy one online or find one in any good hardware store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you do decide to travel down this route then you need to really select a composter well. It pays to shop around to get the best deal for you.

But composting comes down to three main questions:

What you will be composting the most?

Where you live?

Also, more importantly if you want to turn your wastes manually?

Living Style

Small Waste

Kitchen Waste Only

Medium Waste

Kitchen Waste and small garden waste

Large Waste

Lots of garden waste and kitchen waste

No Outdoor Space

Wormery or Bokashi

Reduced outdoor Space

Wormery or Bokashi or Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler

Small Garden

Wormery or Bokashi or Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler or small heap

Large Garden

Wormery or Bokashi or Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler or small heap or Compost Bin System

Open compost heap or large scale Compost Bin Set Up

You don’t have to have a large heap, you could opt for compost bins – see links below.

 

 

 

So there we go folks, the last episode to the series displaying to you the how to actually compost as well as providing alternatives if a large scale heap is not for you. I hope the series has proved useful to you, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

2 thoughts on “Gardeners Be Doin’ It Too! Part 5

Add yours

  1. Yeaaay!!! For the space I have available (not very much) and the relatively little waste we have (mostly from the kitchen), I think the compost tumbler might be our best answer! I REALLY love the idea of the worm composters but don’t think I’m going to convince my husband to go there (🤣). I haven’t given up, yet, though. I would love to talk our community into doing a joint compost bin (the open kind, like yours). Not ready to completely give up on THAT dream. And In a perfect world, I would love to have a separate compost bin for our dog’s droppings. I now use the veggie-based dog-poop bags but still, it’s not an ideal solution and it all still goes to landfill. Rory, I will be coming back to this series again and again as I set up our family compost solution. Can’t thank you enough!!!! 🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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