366 Days of Gardening!
Episode 6 – Week 6
There are some Do’s and some definite Don’ts when composting ….
Oooher Missus!! Just a quickie!
Received an email last night from a friend who asked two questions:
1] What is the difference between finely graded compost and what did l class as ‘ground compost?’
2] How do l make the compost so fine?
Yesterday was Turn 8 Part 2 and l am thankful l completed it when l did as today we have the fore runner of Storm Dennis present and once more non-stop rains. According to the Weather/Met office, Storm Dennis will bring even more disruption to our shores, perhaps not as much wind, but most assuredly rains and for some poor blighters – snow!
6 bins holding a total of 600 kg finely graded compost ready for seed planting.
However as said yesterday l was able to complete the final part to Turn 8 and have indeed filled up all of my compost bins with finely graded/sieved compost suitable for seed and seedling planting next week.
What is the difference between finely graded compost and what did l class as ‘ground compost?’
Ground compost is principally rougher compost that hasn’t yet broken down through sieving or turning into finely gradable compost … when l fork raw compost into the siever – what doesn’t shake down into the tray as fine is left in the griddler as rough. This is the content that will be turned and returned and forked and reforked till eventually it breaks down into a more manageable compost that can be sieved or griddled.
Ground or coarser compost is what is left after a sieving in the compost bins … it has its uses though it can be applied direct to the ground or raised beds and containers as a growing medium for soils.
How do l make the compost so fine?
Well it’s hard work – l am the first to state the obvious … composting is fun and whilst the sieving or griddling’ is part of the fun, it can be backbreaking and tedious – l joke it’s a good job l am an Aspergian who loves robotic and repetitive activities because this part of composting is exactly that ‘tedium and repetition!’
The Tools – Fork, griddler and tray!
I am neither cold or hot composting, l am ‘no rules’ composting and so this means that l have a mixture that can be at times somewhat damp.”Warm composting” means everything is thrown in, lots of moisture is added and it is turned weekly as opposed to monthly maybe for cold composting or daily like for hot composting.
Normally l would use the mechanical griddler with the handle for turning however as the soils are damp, they are clogging that system up too quickly so for this Turn l opted for the more manual approach – this makes it hard work.
Stone Bin and Twig Bin
I have a number of small tubs around the table l work on so that l can pull out unwanted stones, pieces of wood or metal, string or plastic [old labels, sellotape], other bins hold the likes of harder roots or unwanted seedlings and growing weeds which l pull out and these are added to the ‘weed water bin’, twigs and tougher roots are added to a final bin which is either stored for a much longer composting process or awaiting drying to be shredded down.
At the end of each turn this stone bin will be half filled with stones and pebbles which l tip down by the side of the shed where it aids habitat for the likes of slow worms, frogs, toads and newts.
Shake it …. shake it baby …
Fork the content into your griddler and literally shake it – no that’s not a horribly blurred image – it is me sieving – it’s manual and as said can be tedious as there is only so much you can comfortably fit into a griddle and when sieving half a tonne of damp compost the going can be tough! But you manually shake the griddler with two hands – the finer graded compost is in the tray and the coarser compost is left in the griddle.
At this point pick out pieces you don’t want to put back into the compost heap such as stones, strange bits , roots and so on and then dump the good ‘ground’ compost into the bins or into a wheelbarrow for direct to soil use.
Always be mindful when shaking or sieving of your macrobial life such as earthworms – adults, juveniles and babies as well as other little creatures.
Shake it some more … oh behave!!
Once you have have shaken the griddler and loosed off all the finer soils and filled your tray, tip into the compost bin ………
….. and hey presto, you have finely graded compost medium ready for seed sowing. Wash, rinse and repeat the process till the compost bin has been sieved and forked over.
Turn 8 Part 2 took me roughly 2 and a half hours to sieve off – but as l wrote at the top, l now have six bins of really beautiful planting compost for both my seeds and my slips of next week. I expact to use in the next month close to to four of the above six bins, by which time Turn 12 will be ready for sieving. Composting, once you are in a regular routine will provide you with organic compost all year and every year as your experience with compost grows so too will your adventurous mind take you into more beneficial ways of producing black gold.
Finely graded compost for me is the end result of weekly compost turning … it is the creme de la creme of gardener’s black gold!
Anyway, thanks for reading – catch you next episode….
I’ll leave you with some ‘Oh Behave!! Shake it Baby! Music”