Composting

Composting is an easy and free way to add more nutrients to your soil. Don't worry about attracting pests, if done correctly the only animals it will attract are worms which are essential to breaking down the vegetable matter into a nutrient rich compost

THE BIN

First you have to get a bin. You can either buy a bin (the plastic tardis shaped bins are the cheapest kind) or make a bin. Many allotment holders make a bin from pallets (you can pick up pallets for free from many places around town- ask your neighbour for tips) Three pallets attached in a C shape to form the sides and back of the heap are the simplest form. 

The benefits of a plastic bin are you can get cracking straight away. If you are clearing a plot you will have a lot of compostable waste from the off. They also keep the compost damp which is optimal for quick composting. On the downside you will probably fill one pretty quickly and may soon need a second.

The benefits of a pallet compost heap is it will naturally be bigger, taking a lot more of your allotment waste. It is ventilated at the sides, which adds air (essential to composting) but on the downside the contents will remain cooler so this slows down composting. A solution might be to part fill the gaps in your pallets with offcuts of wood

Whichever you choose, stand your bin directly on the earth to allow worms in. 

GET STARTED

Start to use you bin - following some simple rules will mean a pest, smell free compost heap

Do use:

  • Vegetable waste, grass cuttings, leaves, weed leaves only (green)

  • Cardboard - (brown)

  • Scrunched paper (brown)

  • Tea bags (brown)

  • Coffee grounds (green)
  • Pet bedding such as sawdust containing vegetarian animal droppings                                                                                 (guineas & rabbits) (brown)

  • Tree leaves/ leaf mold (brown)

  • Drowned perennial weed roots (kept underwater in dark for several weeks)

For the perfect compost you will need 2 parts green compost to one part brown. Too brown and the pile won't compost quickly, too green and it will turn sludgy and smelly. 

You can make decent compost with a good mixture in 4 or 5  of the warmer months. Heat is vital for the process so it will slow down in winter. You can buy compost accelerator from any garden centre if you are in a hurry, but any urea rich liquid (ie wee) will do the job too! 

You can speed the process up by turning your pile, ie taking it all out of the bin and putting it back in in a different order, but this is a lot of work if you are busy on your plot!!

If you want to know more about composting a good website to start with is this one

Good luck!!

Don't use:

  • Diseased plants

  • Weed seeds or roots

  • Couch-grass roots

  • Cooked food, meat or dairy products on your heap - attracts rats

  • Carnivorous (dogs cats etc) animal faeces or litter

  • Nappies