I’m not talking here about the bags of compost you buy in the garden centre, but the rich crumbly stuff you make yourself. It adds richness to your raised beds, or – if in short supply – is useful for mulching. Good compost is not difficult to make, though it takes time. Left to itself, something magical happens; nature doing its own thing turns waste into goodness; no need for those green council wheely bins – why give away something precious.
If you have the space, you can build your own, from timber or cinder building blocks. I had to move my last one in a hurry (another story) and hadn’t time to make a proper new one; temporary measures were needed. So I laid a sheet of tough plastic on the ground, positioned paving slabs upright against the fence, knocked some pairs of posts into the ground about a metre away from the slabs and slotted an old door between the posts; as I filled it over the last two years, I kept it covered with old carpet. It turned out to be the best compost I have ever made! It isn’t pretty, but it works. And if you do not have space for something homemade, buy a compost bin – or better still, two – you fill the first and leave it to ‘work’, then start on the second.
Two particularly helpful books are ‘Compost’ by Ken Thompson (Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 978-1-4053-1103-8) and ‘Composting’ by Bob Flowerdew (Kyle Cathie, ISBN 978-1-85626-930-8). You CAN actually compost cooked and raw meat and fish using a ‘bokashi’ pickling system, and dispose of kitchen vegetable waste in a wormery – both of those will be the subject of a future post.
There’s no real mystery about the process: you can start with a layer of torn up cardboard, toilet-roll tubes, grass cuttings, soft prunings, annual weeds before they seed, perennials such as nettles and dock leaves – but not the roots, plus kitchen waste: vegetable and fruit peelings. Mix them up so no layer is too thick, water with compost accelerator or sprinkle Garotta Compost Maker between layers to aid decomposition. Avoid left over meat scraps or you’ll attract rats. Once full, leave it to itself and start a new heap or bin.
In my last post (Sunday 22nd May) I mentioned that I’d been down to Devon to discuss future plans for both the blog and the e-newsletters. Welcome to Steven Newman who is now part of the team – he has joined Dobies to handle all the online technical side of things, and much else besides.