Tag Archives: quick cook composting

Cut Your Losses

Why did I ever bother to grow tomatoes outdoors this year? With blight lingering I decided to cut my losses and salvage the green fruit before it too was riddled. Having just finished the last batch of green chutney made three years ago at least we’ll have a new supply and I won’t ever bother growing outdoor tomotoes again!

A long overdue job was digging out the compost heap that I started last year. As you can see it was well rotted and has reduced from three and a half foot in depth (after being regularly topped up) to two foot. I’ve learnt a couple of lessons along the way – firstly don’t put any woody material in no matter how small in diameter – unless the heap is going to stand for years it’s not going to rot down. Secondly remove all plastic, that’s every scrap of tape on the cardboard and don’t bother including the hoover contents – especially if you have kids – as you’re always going to have scraps of plastic in there. But apart from that it was good stuff that’s now been spread over the beds.

I used the quick cook method which I can recommend – it’s based on heat rather than worm action (that’s about as technical as I get). If you want to know how to use this method check out my earlier post.

Today’s main job is the annual hedge cut – a mixture of beech, conifer and a few other assorted trees – I find it best to do the job once a year in August and I usually blitz it all in a day. As I left it until the Bank Holiday weekend I’ll have to endure the traditional heavy downpours but at least I won’t upset the neighbours trying to enjoy their gardens!

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend!

Quick Cook Composting Part 2

Regular readers will remember that I finally got round to building a proper compost heap at the end of August, using the Quick Compost method that I’d learnt during a talk by gardening expert Ray Broughton.

Well after 3 months it’s full and ready for the final layer of soil and fertiliser before I leave it to cook down over the winter. I’ve been amazed at how much material I’ve been able to cram into this four foot square space. Virtually everything from the garden and plot has gone in, I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already got a compost area. By April I’m hoping to have some lovely compost to spread around the plot and allotment.

And I’ve also taken delivery of 8 75litre bags of Levington’s F2+S which will go into my carrot mix for next year’s assault on the NVS Southern Championship at the New Forest Show. Fingers crossed!

Quick Cook Composting

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!!