Garden And Gardener

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Compost bins

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

All the plants you’re pulling up at the moment because they’ve finished flowering can go in the compost bin! The only things that shouldn’t are nasty weeds like dandelions that will carry on flowering and leave their seeds in the compost, or their nasty thick tap roots which won’t rot down.

Put leaves into leaf sacks though as they take longer to rot down. You can get wire baskets for these but a bag is just as good and can be stacked neatly away in a corner out of site. Leaves take at least 3 years to break down – but when they do it’s a lovely fine compost.

Your normal compost bin can have all the kitchen peelings too – don’t put cooked meats in though or bones.

Ideally you’ll have a couple of compost bins so you can leave them to rot down and start filling another. If you don’t have room then you might have to empty out and turn the compost and put the unrotted stuff back in.

Empty the compost bin in January when you’re digging runner bean beds and it doesn’t matter whether it’s all rotted down or not!

Have whatever style you like of compost bin – wooden or plastic. Entirely up to you. Put it in a shady corner of the garden! No point wasting a sunny spot with it – besides which if it gets too hot in the sun it’ll all dry out and not rot down as well.

Use a container for kitchen waste so you don’t have to pop down each time you peel some veg. Throw in coffee grounds and tea bags. Some people think the paper doesn’t break down quickly enough but they can always be picked out at the end if you spread compost on your beds.

Compost bins at Dobies

Earthmaker Compost Bin
Earthmaker Compost Bin £144.95
A unique three chamber compost bin which uses gravity rather than hard labour to produce a great compost, allowing a continuous input of kitchen and garden waste in the top and providing a continuous source of compost from the bottom. Just slide out the removable floor of the top chamber every month or so and the contents tumble into the middle chamber, becoming mixed and aerated in the process, before maturing in the bottom chamber. It’s compact, odour-free, has a push-on door at the front and comes with an integrally stored ‘push-pull’ tool. Ideal for all ages and levels of mobility. Can digest 1000-1500kg of waste per year, and provide 20-30 litres of compost every month! Diameter 78cm (31″), height 113cm (3’8″); opening size 41cm (16″) wide, 32cm (13″) high.

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More composting advice

Monday, February 15th, 2010

List of things you can compost.

Lawn clippings, hedge cuttings, weeds, lawn edgings, old fruit and vegetables, vegetable peelings, potato peelings, old bedding plants, twigs, shredded newspaper and cardboard, nettles, raked leaves, almost any green plant material you might find in your garden.

List of things you cannot compost.

Meat, bones, animal mess, cat litter, dead animals, large branches, cooked food at anything that won’t break down easily.

Can you compost raspberry canes? You could certainly use them to make a base for your compost pot, they are quite woody and tough though some may need a lot of time to break down.

Can you compost potato haulms? You can as long as they do not having disease.

Can I compost cat Litter made from sawdust? If you’re going to have a very efficient compost heap that gets hot then you probably could, for most people you probably shouldn’t. You certainly shouldn’t put any animal waste on from pets that have been treated with medicines such as worming tablets.

Can I put old newspaper on my compost heap? You can, but don’t the one in large amounts, you might want to shred it, or soak it to make sure it gets the really damp.

Do I have to turn my compost heap? No! You don’t have to, but when you come to use the compost heap you will find that some of it hasn’t got it down so you should put this aside for your next compost bin.

Do I need more than one compost bin? If you have room for more than one, it’s the next one way of creating a composting system. You can fill one bed and leave it much too slowly for the other. When you’ve let one pile compost decompose you can use the compost and put the bad compost in the other pile.

It takes me a long time for the compost bin, is this a problem? No, you will just take longer to make compost. If you have a small garden, or only make a very small amount of waste, then you might consider a word tree as this is a more efficient option for small quantities of household vegetable waste.

I have a large lawn, I end up with a huge pile of lawn clippings, will be rot down into compost? It will do, even if you just put in a huge pile and leave it. It will probably go through quite slimy revolting stage first, but if you have a large garden leave in a far corner and stop worrying about it. It might take a couple of years to fully compost, but it will become home to lots of worms who break down the grass. One grass cuttings compost heap that I’ve seen hacks the largest worms I’ve ever seen!


Monday, February 15th, 2010

Making compost is something that every gardener should do. A compost bin can be made from old wooden pallets fits together, or be a brand-new plastic one bought through some of the many discounted schemes local authorities run. Contact local council to see if they were a discount scheme on compost bins.

Or you can buy one online from Suttons – Compost bins at Suttons

Where should you put your compost bin? It should go somewhere where you don’t mind visiting every day with vegetable peelings from the kitchen. If it’s too far away from the kitchen then you’re just not bother using it. It shouldn’t be to close though because it can get bit whiffy if things go wrong.
What can you compost? You can compost almost all the green matter from your garden. There are arguments for and against putting in damaged plants that have infection. If you run your compost bin hot enough, then it should destroy any problem material, but most small compost bins won’t do this. For most small gardens the sensible advice be to throw away disease plant material. For those with bigger garden it should be okay to put things in the summer should build in a big stack and it gets hot enough to destroy things.

You can compost all your lawn cuttings, you could add shredding is of newspaper and cardboard, you can add other plant material like stems and prunings, and you can add lots of vegetable kitchen waste. You shouldn’t put meat or bones in the compost, as these may attract rats who will then set up home within your compost bin.

If you add too much of one type of material, then your compost bin won’t work as well. In a perfect world you would collect different types of material and then built a compost heap in layers. For most people this is impractical and just throwing everything in as it arrives is the best way to deal with things. You might then need to turn the compost over at least once before it’s ready.

Your compost bin can be in the shade, after all the Sunni areas in your garden at best to serve the plants you want to grow. A little prevent it getting to where in rainy weather, although some liquid is required for good composting. Some gardeners believe that adding urine to your compost heap speeds up the process. One TV gardener who is no longer with us, claimed to do this!

Older more woody material is slower to rot. If you have a garden shredder, then shredding this type of material before adding it to your compost heap is a great idea. It will speed up the decomposition and create great compost quickly.

Some plants are supposed to be great for activating compost. Nettles are supposed to be a great plan to put your compost bin. Just wear gloves when picking them. You should avoid putting in plants with thick roots like dandelions. It’s probably best to avoid putting Dandelion heads in as well as they will go to seed and then you’re just creating a perfect environment for them to replicate.

As long as you avoid taproot weeds and flowering heads of weeds you should produce good compost. Sometimes there will be bits that don’t decompose straightaway, safety is for your next heap. You will be amazed as the how much grass cuttings compost down quickly in summer. This is probably a good job as the lawn constantly needs mowing all summer long.