Composting

One thing I love about my garden is the compost heap.  It’s brilliant, we never have to put smelly banana skins or eggshells in the bin any more and it makes me feel really “green” (although, really, I am not).

My compost bin
My compost bin

I am quite anal about what can and what can’t go in the compost bin.  A brief summary is below (I will add to it and amend it from time to time):

Okay to put in

  • Non shiny cardboard (so egg boxes, spent loo rolls and Amazon boxes are all good – although tear up the Amazon boxes a bit if you can)
  • Herbs, including the dried flowers from lavender (you can see these in the picture)
  • Raw kitchen waste (so potato peelings, banana skins, eggshells, apple cores, carrot tops are all good)
  • Ash from the log burner (as long as it is not too much)
  • RAW fish bones – not meat bones as they are too big and will take ages to decompose
  • Used teabags and coffee grounds
  • Hair and nail cuttings
  • Urine (in the past, I’ve poured the contents of a potty in there)
  • Gone off wine (diluted)

Don’t put in

  • No cooked meat or fish (you’ll just get rats)
  • No dairy (ugh)
  • No cooked vegetables (they don’t rot nicely)
  • No weeds – some people disagree but then either they (1) have a compost heap that gets FAR hotter than mine or (2) they microwave the compost before putting it on the garden (don’t laugh, there are people who do this)
  • No grass cuttings

The last one is a bit tricky.  The idea is that you have a little bit of everything in the compost heap and it all decomposes together.  If I had a small lawn and a MASSIVE compost heap, grass cuttings would be fine.  As it is, the thing would get totally filled with grass cuttings and the result would be this horrible, slimy mess.

The trick is to have the right balance between “brown” stuff (Amazon boxes etc) and “green” stuff (raw kitchen waste).  Too much brown and nothing will happen.  Too much green and you get a horrible, slimy mess.  Also, you will know what works for your garden and what doesn’t.  My Mum has gritty soil so won’t put eggshells in.  I have clay so I do.  I also put newspaper in when my husbands parents have been staying and have left lots – I rip them up nice and small so they should rot away okay.

The compost works at its best when it is really full.  Everything gets hot and decomposes faster.  Some people like to “turn” their compost but I am afraid of disturbing creatures which may live or nest in there.  This summer we had a baby grass snake in the garden who I am sure was hatched in the compost bin.

Grass snake
Grass snake

Now, did you know that you can buy composting worms?  I got mine from some people called Wormcity, who sell through Amazon.  It was quite a fun task, squeezing them out the packet with my son and couple of friends’ boys who were staying with us.  I am not too sure how many have survived though because some nocturnal animal kept taking the removable flap off the front of my compost bin and spreading the compost across the garden in an effort to get at the worms.  It could be a fox or a badger, we have both.  In the end, I got my husband to screw the flap onto the compost bin so it can’t be opened.  So it will be harder for me to get at my compost but at least I wouldn’t have to keep clearing up rotting fruit each morning.

3 thoughts on “Composting

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