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Starting a compost area

wildlife, gardening, environment, Rural living, Pets and Vets
OLTB
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Starting a compost area

#294440

Postby OLTB » March 26th, 2020, 12:23 pm

Afternoon all.

With our local council ceasing the collection of 'green' waste until further notice, I need to find something to do with my grass cuttings/tree roots/weeds.

I don't have a compost bin so need to set up some sort of compost area in my garden where I can store this stuff until they start again. I have a few old coal bags in my shed, so I suppose these would do to hold the cuttings for the time being.

I'm not an experienced gardener so if anyone has any tips for starting a compost 'pile' I'd be grateful.

Thanks again, OLTB.

ReformedCharacter
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Re: Starting a compost area

#294445

Postby ReformedCharacter » March 26th, 2020, 12:36 pm

OLTB wrote:Afternoon all.

With our local council ceasing the collection of 'green' waste until further notice, I need to find something to do with my grass cuttings/tree roots/weeds.

I don't have a compost bin so need to set up some sort of compost area in my garden where I can store this stuff until they start again. I have a few old coal bags in my shed, so I suppose these would do to hold the cuttings for the time being.

I'm not an experienced gardener so if anyone has any tips for starting a compost 'pile' I'd be grateful.

Thanks again, OLTB.


Good guide here, courtesy of the Eden Project:

https://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-e ... 0-top-tips

Human urine is a good compost accelerator (extra nitrogen). I would avoid putting many leaves on the pile, if you have a lot then place them in a bin bag with a few holes in and wait. They make excellent potting compost or mulch after a year or two. One big pile is better than a number of small ones. If you are so inclined, chop up tree roots and anything tough and fibrous into smaller pieces.

RC

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294503

Postby Charlottesquare » March 26th, 2020, 3:30 pm

Catch with mainly grass is it can go to slime, whilst likely not organic mixing with shredded paper can help avoid the dreaded green slime.

It seems I will need to rebuild my compost bin ( disassembled behind shed), two birds with one stone as working from home my shredder is producing more than normal paper waste.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294510

Postby JohnB » March 26th, 2020, 4:07 pm

2 compost heaps which you use in alternation, put them on bare soil (sprinkle some soil in as you build it to add microbes). Mix green and brown stuff to give variety and avoid layers. If under trees add water if it starts getting dry. Every six months move it about a bit and extract the completed compost. Don't add animal products.

As my paper recycling has stopped, I'm going to experinent with composting that, but am not optimistic

If you are keen, dig over a scruffy area and bury green waste as you, it will rot nicely 6" under.

UncleIan
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Re: Starting a compost area

#294517

Postby UncleIan » March 26th, 2020, 4:44 pm

JohnB wrote:As my paper recycling has stopped, I'm going to experinent with composting that, but am not optimistic


It's fine, if in balanced with other stuff. It works perfectly as a "brown" element. Printer paper is better off shredded, newspaper ripped up a bit and only a few sheets at a time, best to wet it too to help it break up.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294569

Postby Lootman » March 26th, 2020, 7:27 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:Human urine is a good compost accelerator (extra nitrogen).

Yep, I regularly initiate stream over my (one very large) compost pile. I've never seen any need for fancy equipment to compost although, that said, my garden is quite large and so the rotting pile is some 200 feet from the house.

And before you ask my garden walls are 12 feet high, so the neighbours cannot see my stream or wherefrom it emanates.

tjh290633
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Re: Starting a compost area

#294604

Postby tjh290633 » March 26th, 2020, 10:17 pm

I have two, each about a 2ft cube, made from old bits of fence post and barge boards. Lined with old compost bags, and covered with old pieces of carpet. At the height of summer a full cutting of the grass will fill one completely. It willthen rot down in time for the next cutting. The carpet and other things on top keep the heat in. I usually have an old compost sack below the carpet. You will probably find that you get ants nesting in the bin, and slowworms will come to eat the ants.

Keep filling the one bin, with whatever you have, grass cuttings, vegetable waste, weeds, but try to avoid things like ivy or convolvulous, as they may take root.

Come the spring, move the contents of the bin into the other one and leave for 12 months. Keep filling the original bin and repeat after 12 months, using the contents of the second bin in your garden. I used to use it to fill my potato and bean trenches, but having given up vegetable gardening, my neighbour has it for her allotment.

TJH

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294716

Postby Nimrod103 » March 27th, 2020, 10:35 am

I use several big plastic compost bins, but of course with all the DIY shops closed, that will not help you.

Basically, composting works best if the highest temperatures can be built up by decomposition, so it is best to have one large heap, rather than several small ones. A sort of cube shape, held up by wooden (or other) boards is adequate, and a cover to keep the heat in, and most of the cold rain out. A bit of old carpet works well. As others have said, grass cuttings alone make a slimy mess, but if mixed up with kitchen scraps and coarser stuff like small sticks etc, that is better. It also helps turning it over with a fork occasionally to get air into the heap.

I would not advise peeing on it. In my experience, that attracts rats to make a home in it. And you don't want that.

OLTB
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Re: Starting a compost area

#294717

Postby OLTB » March 27th, 2020, 10:37 am

Thanks all so much for your very useful replies.

I can see in the garden that weeds are starting to show themselves and was wondering what to do with these - can these be composted with everything else, or am I just storing trouble for myself and they'll just start growing again in the compost where they have lots of nutrients to help them grow?

Thanks again, OLTB.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294727

Postby Nimrod103 » March 27th, 2020, 10:59 am

OLTB wrote:Thanks all so much for your very useful replies.

I can see in the garden that weeds are starting to show themselves and was wondering what to do with these - can these be composted with everything else, or am I just storing trouble for myself and they'll just start growing again in the compost where they have lots of nutrients to help them grow?

Thanks again, OLTB.


Depends. The idea of having high temperatures in the heap is that in addition to accelerating decomposition, it kills the weeds and seeds. In my experience it doesn't happen quickly, but most annual weeds will die. I often throw weeds onto my path to die in the sun for a week or two before composting. Some weeds with strong storage type roots like dandelions, ivy, buttercups I would put on the bonfire.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294767

Postby bungeejumper » March 27th, 2020, 12:11 pm

Lootman wrote:
ReformedCharacter wrote:Human urine is a good compost accelerator (extra nitrogen).

Yep, I regularly initiate stream over my (one very large) compost pile.

Thanks for the reminder. It was Bob Flowerdew, I think, who called it personally initiated soil stimulant?

Our two compost bays are six feet square (they're made from old doors), but sadly I find that I can no longer get the essential supply to reach right to the very back of the heaps. And my wife refuses to even try. :twisted:

BJ

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294772

Postby kempiejon » March 27th, 2020, 12:21 pm

bungeejumper wrote:It was Bob Flowerdew, I think, who called it personally initiated soil stimulant?


Recycled cider I've heard Bob call it.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294780

Postby JohnB » March 27th, 2020, 12:37 pm

Composting most weeds good, they and their seeds won't survive. Obsessive composters (and there are some who enjoy composting rather than gardening) will drown things in water for a month or so, but who wants slimy buckets full of mosquito larvae in their garden

Big heaps get hotter and kill off more stuff

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294830

Postby bungeejumper » March 27th, 2020, 3:03 pm

JohnB wrote:Composting most weeds good, they and their seeds won't survive. ....Big heaps get hotter and kill off more stuff

We are big fans of so-called composting duvets, which raise the temperature and speed up the fermentation hugely. Weed seeds don't stand a chance.

As in https://www.gardeningworks.co.uk/Big-Sq ... Duvet.html - but really they're nothing more than cheapo groundsheets stitched into a bag shape (a quid, anyone? https://www.poundland.co.uk/ground-sheet-2-metres), and then filled with whatever insulating material you've got to hand. Dammit, we've all got a dead sweater and a sackful of bubble wrap knocking around the place, haven't we?

If that's too much to spend, a lump of old wool carpet (not nylon) or a few of Amazon's cardboard boxes will perform the same insulating trick.

One year, the plan backfired on us. We found a clutch of grass snake eggs, and a rather annoyed mother snake nearby. That was the end of our composting in that bin until the brood had safely hatched and moved on!

BJ

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294836

Postby jackdaww » March 27th, 2020, 3:24 pm

high temperatures are not obligatory.

the essential objective is to get it all rotted .

an 80% job will take 20 % of the time .

weed seeds will always be with us...

8-) 8-)

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294862

Postby JohnB » March 27th, 2020, 4:39 pm

I find my heaps stall because they get to dry. My garden's 'unpleasueance' is under pine trees and I need to add water. So make sure your duvet is permeable.

tjh290633
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Re: Starting a compost area

#294890

Postby tjh290633 » March 27th, 2020, 5:53 pm

JohnB wrote:I find my heaps stall because they get to dry. My garden's 'unpleasueance' is under pine trees and I need to add water. So make sure your duvet is permeable.

I found that happened two years ago. I left the top off the year-old bin for the rain to get in for a while. That seemed to work.

TJH

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Re: Starting a compost area

#294954

Postby panamagold » March 27th, 2020, 8:53 pm

When we lived in central London we were fortunate to have a large garden and I got into composting.
I built two bays side by side from industrial palletts on edge. Horizontally across the front of both the two bays I secured 6 of 2x1 full length boards secured top and bottom of the boards by rotateable bent nails in the pallete frame. Allows easy removal as and when required for ease of removal of the compost.
I laid a few layers of cardboard on the base of the bays and chucked in some grass cuttings. I then got a dozen large bags of horse manure. (Courtesy of Knightsbridge Barracks stables) and in they went.
I also bought some bone and blood meal and mixed liberal amounts to the grass and manure as I added it. Finally I gave it all a sprinkling of water to keep it damp. From then on all garden and vegetable waste was loaded in and the top covered with old carpet. You could have poached an egg inside the piles from the heat that was generated.
After emptying and using the 1st bay load I transferred the contents of the 2nd bay into the first enabling it to be subjected to a good mix up and from then on proceeded to refill the 2nd bay.
I was able to gain a great sense of achievement when it all stated to work. Small things amuse etc.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Starting a compost area

#296735

Postby Clariman » April 1st, 2020, 8:37 pm

Is a compost heap/bin smelly? The best flat site in our garden would be about 6 to 8 feet away from a patio table. Other option would be where our garden waste bin normally is.

Any recommendations on good compost bins?

tjh290633
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Re: Starting a compost area

#296775

Postby tjh290633 » April 1st, 2020, 11:16 pm

It all depends what you put in it. If it is mainly grass cuttings, very little smell. If you put lots of onion or garlic in, it's your own lookout.

TJH


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