After first posting about this in February 2010 today I’ve finally got round to building a compost bin.
I first learnt this method from Ray Broughton in a talk he gave to our local Horticultural Society. It should produce a good compost pretty quickly after filling the bin.
The advantages of the quick cook method are:
1) Pretty much all plant material can be placed on the heap including woody material up to a diameter of 1cm – good I’ve just put the hedge trimmings in there.
2) No turning needed – no faffing around a la Monty Don on GW, this is a method for those who don’t spend all week in the garden.
3) Due to the heat generated plant pests, diseases and weeds will be killed by this method – great you can bung anything in, particularly good if there are a lot of weeds in your garden……like mine!
4) Vermin will not be attracted to this heap (I’ve had rats in my black council bin before so this will be interesting to test out).
5) Compost should be ready in 3 to 4 months – just what I’m looking for!
The heap can be built up over a period of time but for optimum efficiency it should be no longer than 3 months. Now here’s the important bit – the heap has to have a solid base of paving slabs, you don’t want nutrient loss or worm activity with this method it’s all about fungi and bacteria breaking down the plant material and creating a serious amount of heat that kills off weeds, seeds etc.
You need to construct the sides out of wood or other suitable material to contain your heap (I’ve used some old pallets), the best size is 1.5 metre by 1.5 metre. It is important that oxygen is present but you only need a relatively small amount as the material going into the heap is bulky and will trap air. So drill some small holes into the sides (I’ve put thin board over the gaps in the pallet and left a handful of holes for some air to get in). Remember this must be on a solid base, I’ve used half a dozen small paving slabs and I plan to build another bin alongside soon.
Ok once you’ve built your compost bin, start filling with plant material, you can put pretty much anything in from the garden up to 1cm diameter, including weeds, lawn clippings, and the usual kitchen peelings etc. Fill to 1/3 of the height of the bin. At this stage place two shovel loads of good quality soil over the heap and two handfuls of nitrogen fertiliser (e.g. hoof and horn). If you use organic fertiliser make sure it is ground into a fine powder (amounts quoted are for a 1.5 x 1.5m heap).
Add more material until you are up to the 2/3rds mark. Then add one shovel load of ground limestone (calcium carbonate). This is essential as it prevents the heap from becoming too acidic which is a common problem. Carry on filling and when you reach the top add soil and fertiliser in exactly the same way as you did at the 1/3rd stage. That’s it, there’s no need to cover the heap, and then it’s just a waiting game until the heap cooks down.
Happy composting! I’ll keep you informed of progress.
And finally here’s this weekend’s plot harvest:
There’s french beans (sultana with a few purple ones, purple teepee), runner beans (Stenner, Moonlight), Beetroot (Burpee’s Golden) – roasted beetroot has been a revelation for us this summer – lettuce (Little Gem) and courgette (Black Beauty).
I’ve enjoyed growing them all and will enjoy eating them even more!
Have a great Bank Holiday everyone!!