Where There’s Muck..

Crocus 'Snow Bunting'

 

Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’

The first to bloom of the container grown bulbs. So far so good..

 

And so. 2018 is Consolidation Year. A year when I resist, as far as is possible, the temptation to dive headlong into new projects and focus instead on improving the areas of cultivated garden I already have. It’s all too easy to get distracted while the borders that I once sweat blood over submit themselves back into wilderness by reason of neglect.

It’s a year of going back to basics and surely there is nothing more basic than compost. The trouble is I’ve never been much good at producing it. I look in envy at Monty Don’s array of five compost bins side by side and the black gold that he casually lifts out of the end one and caresses lovingly in his hand. The sort that crumbles at the lightest touch with not a single unrotted twig or bindweed root. The ‘compost’ that I’m more likely to experience sits either in the form of a soggy stinking mess or a heap of dried up sticks that have conspicuously failed to break down at all. Well, this year all that is going to change.

 
 

 

 We inherited the bins above. Don’t be deceived by any initial impression of robustness. The illusion is maintained by an almost rusted through iron framework and holes in the rear patched up with corrugated tin. The first year I did in fact get some useful compost out of it, after a fashion. The ladder was my way in and what a faff and energy sapping exercise that turned out to be. Some time after the event I discovered that the sides of the bins did indeed swing open. Which would have made access a doddle now wouldn’t it. Doh.

But if we are to get truly serious about compost we need bins that are less inclined to rely on their contents to hold themselves up. And more of them too so, like Monty, we (I?) can progress the delectably decomposing detritus down the line, turning and aerating from one bin to the next, transforming my ample supply of weeds slowly but surely into that coveted black gold. Except for the bindweed of course. And anything else that re-shoots from so much as a molecule of root. Or anything that is about to seed. Or any plant material that might be diseased. Those must still make their way to the bonfire pile.

 
 

 

Reconstruction in progress

 That pile of rocks and the bags of sharp sand had been hidden by Mike behind the old compost bins. Where they wouldn’t be seen..

 
 

 

The value of compost really can’t be overestimated. As well as the benefit to the soil in terms of added nutrients and structure a compost mulch suppresses annual weeds and locks in moisture. Much to our surprise we did find some useable compost at the bottom of the old bins, as evidenced by the heap in the photo above. Once the weather improves I can already start mulching.

The new bins will fill rapidly with all the expired foliage (so ‘last year’) due to be cut from the garden in the weeks to come. And it doesn’t end there. In my idle wanderings around cyberspace I found a list of 163 different items (here) which can go into a compost bin. It includes: Vegetable waste from the kitchen. Old spices. No, not the aftershave. Pasta and any other dry ingredients which long since completed their migration to the unreachable part of the store cupboard. Coffee grounds. We have a lot of those chez rusty duck. Stale beer and wine. OK, not so much! Paper and cardboard, shredded. Hair and nail clippings. Starfish (dead ones!). Your guess is as good as mine. Cotton fabric scraps and wool, shredded. The contents of the vacuum, including all that horsehair from the upholstery. Sawdust from the Man Shed, provided it’s come from untreated wood. Plants that someone left so long in the pot ghetto they turned up their roots. Not that you or I would have any of those, right?

It seems the reason I’ve failed dismally in the past is that I didn’t get the balance right between the soft, wet, green stuff (such as grass cuttings) and brown, dry, woody shrub prunings, dead leaves and stems. Also because previously I’ve never bothered turning the heap to let in air. Containing the material in a bin traps in heat which makes rotting happen faster. And in Devon I should have absolutely no problem incorporating sufficient moisture. All I need to do is leave off the lid.

But would three bins be sufficient? Well that was the question. Especially with all those nail clippings to find a home for. The area covered by the new bins wasn’t hugely bigger than that occupied by the inherited two and it didn’t take long to fill those. Fortunately the system we’re now using is modular. And delivery is prompt..

 
 

 

We ordered another one while Mike was on a roll.

Could I go to five? Well there is room. But then I would risk upstaging Monty. And that would never do.

 
 

 

Way to go…

Crikey, I could almost be a proper gardener now.

 
 
 

2018-02-05T12:02:31+00:00February 5th, 2018|Tags: |

100 Comments

  1. justjilluk February 5, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

    No mention of old carpet on top – to keep the heat in? You are a proper gardener!

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      We’ve used sheets of aluminium as lids, which will hopefully also keep the heat in. It is so wet here that I feared carpet would deteriorate too quickly. The photo angle is possibly too low to see the lids clearly.

  2. aberdeen gardening February 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Proper gardener, I should say so. Mind you, climbing the ladder to get to the compost is one of the dopey things I am capable of doing. Never mind Monty, he could stand a bit of competition.

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      It’s annoying because I did try and open the bins before climbing in but couldn’t find a way. It took a bit of breaking and entering in the end..

  3. Jkitt750 February 5, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    I believe that one essential element of Monty’s system (yes, we do watch Monty here in America on Youtube) is that he shreds the organic matter before composting to speed up the process. A shredder costs a lot of money (I don’t think Monty is too worried about that) so waiting an extra year for your compost to be completed is another option. That’s the option we are forced to choose.

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Another thing I have seen him do is run a lawnmower over it to break it up. I don’t suppose it does the mower much good but Monty probably has a spare mower for the task. The compost we have just extracted took about three years, hopefully turning the heap might speed things up a bit. We shall see.

  4. Amy at love made my home February 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Oh how I would love to have compost to mulch with! Not enough of the right sort of stuff here because our garden is strangely too big to buy mulch in as it would cost too much, yet not big enough to produce enough of the right sort of stuff to make good compost – although didn’t know before about the starfish or nail clippings….. – too many sticks from the trees and grass clippings from, well, the grass, and not enough of the other sorts of stuff. We do send our stuff away in the green bin though to be communally composted so I don’t feel badly about it though. In the meantime I continue to weed and add bark as a mulch! Good luck with your new system, very natty!

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      I can’t imagine I’ll be generating compost quickly enough for all my needs either. I shall prioritise the terraces and the veggie garden and see how we go. It’s all a bit experimental!

  5. Chloris February 5, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Oh how organised you are, I am impressed. I started off with bins and now I just throw my debris in the general direction of the heap and I seem to have an enormous pile which the dog turns over looking for dainty morsels. Somehow the stuff at the bottom comes out alright but it does look a mess. Starfish??? I don’t seem to have any those.

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Last year I dumped the spoils from all of my land clearances on a wide curve in the drive where Mike has his bonfire pile. And what do you know it rotted down far more quickly than anything in the bins.

  6. An Eye For Detail February 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful post! Ah yes, those nail clippings do add up! I do not have room for any kind of compost storage at all…very small property but fine for all my gardening needs..but am envious of you.

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      I am just imagining myself walking down to the bottom of the garden to put a broken nail on the compost heap..

  7. FlowerAlley February 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Composting is an art. I used to get it right about half the time. Now, the bunny litter seems to keep it balanced.

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      And there was me thinking that as a scientist you’d have it cracked! What hope is there for me.. I shall just have to collect up all the wild bunny poop.

  8. derrickjknight February 5, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I like the bins. We’ve only got three

    • Jessica February 6, 2018 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Three may well be enough for me when/if I get the garden under control. But once the machete has been at work the remains of the current jungle need to go somewhere.

  9. Linda Brazill February 5, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    We had three bins at our first house and also at this garden in the early days. I kept a lidded bucket by the kitchen sink for veggie scraps etc. Never smelled and filled quickly. As you say, the biggest issue is having the green/brown mix. Think about keeping a big pile or some bags of brown stuff in the fall or gathered now and set aside to add as needed. Even if you don’t get that mix right and it takes ages to break down, you still end up with that gorgeous stuff. I will admit we finally gave up as we generated so much garden waste we could not deal with the volume. Now we take it to the city site multiple times per year and they recycle it. I have been a huge fan of Monty since I sent to the UK for his book “The Jewel Garden” before he was a big name. Love him and drool over that compost. Only real gardeners can go weak in the knees over compost!

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      That has been my problem up to now.. generating far more material than I can reasonably deal with, especially whilst I’ve been in full time land clearance mode. As this year my ambitions are more modest I thought it was time to try composting. I’m resigned to the fact that it will take a while, but I look forward to the weak in the knees moment!

  10. Sharon February 5, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Go for six!

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Monty will either sue me or send in a film crew 🙂

  11. Sarah Shoesmith February 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    The bit I love to visit most in anyone’s garden is the compost area. I am putting your bins at the top of my must-visit list. I will bring my own nail clippings.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      You would be more than welcome. Just please let me know in advance, with the approximate volume of nail clippings I will need to find room for 🙂

  12. Jayne Hill February 5, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Mmm, multiple compost bins are things of joy! As you know, we’ve got three maahhooooosive bins at Bag End, far too big to turn properly, and my shoulders are at an age when they would not appreciate such enthusiasms. So I am afraid I jut pile stuff up, and up, and up, and then leave it for a couple of years …. it all rots down beautifully in the end. Don’t forget that all the old thatch that will soon be ripped from your roof will make a splendid addition to the bins. Waste not and all that …. 💐 🌿

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      The old thatch is an excellent idea. We’d planned on using it to fill the old pond area, on the basis that the bins might soon be overwhelmed. But if there are odd bits left behind they’ll definitely find a home.

  13. New Moons For Old February 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I am experiencing serious compost-heap envy. Those four modules look SO smart and I am sure you will be successful, even though I am convinced that making good compost is much harder than Monty makes it appear. (Have you signed up to his new blog, by the way? It’s the tips and advice page on montydon.com.) If things don’t go to plan, you could always try recruiting Mike to Bob Flowerdew’s methods. (I’ll just leave that, there.)
    Do keep us posted on progress. x

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Mike would take some persuading!
      I think a lot of things are harder than Monty makes it appear. But we can only try, accepting as we do that it is only us and not the team of gardeners that he has. Thanks for the link.. it looks interesting.

  14. Christina February 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I’m just increasing the number of our bins. My problem is always too much dry stuff and not enough green. Shredding does make a huge difference and once shredded things don’t take as much space. Bob Flowerdew says petals are as good as leaves, there are a surprisingly large amount from the Wisteria. I think you’re a proper gardener Jessica. Don’t underestimate yourself. Good luck.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      We used to have a shredder. I must find out if we still do. I remember it was constantly getting jammed and it may well have found its way to the home for decrepit garden equipment by now.

  15. Pauline February 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Wonderful! We have 3 bins and still never manage to make enough. We don’t turn ours, but the compost is usually ok after a year, looks like Monty’s but with twigs!

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      Mine didn’t look a bit like Monty’s but it did have a lot of twigs.

  16. Gillian Osborne February 5, 2018 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Funnily enough a new area of compost bins has been very much in my mind this past week. I neglected my poor allotment in 2017 and ended up spending a week pulling up weeds in October and making a huge pile of them, meaning to put them on the bonfire. Fast forward to the last day of January (!) and I finally got around to moving the pile to a spare corner. I was thrilled (as only us gardeners can be, eh?) to find the plant material underneath had already started to rot down and resemble something like crumbly compost….my first ever! I’ve had the plot three years and never managed to successfully create my own so I think I need to move my two compost heaps (from the previous tenant) which are in a shady area to a sunnier spot and have more than two! Watch this space…..

    • Jayne Hill February 5, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Gillian, a friend of mine has an enviably beautiful and organised allotment – nearly all of it is given over to long raised beds. Each year she sites a plastic ‘dalek’ bin at the end of each bed so there must be 7 or 8 bins in all. At the beginning of the next season she picks up the bin, moves it (empty) to the opposite end, and spreads the compost on that bed. Minimal moving stuff around and it certainly seems to work.

      • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 11:37 pm - Reply

        Jayne, that does sound like perfect organisation. It also suggests that an open position is a good thing to have. The bins, especially the plastic ones, get fairly warm I would imagine.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Gillian and welcome.
      Oh that’s brilliant! I’m hoping that finding some useable compost at the bottom of our old compost bins has proved the concept and that all I need to do is pile it in and forget about it. Time will tell!
      I tried to leave a comment on your blog but it disappeared, I do hope you got it.

  17. Cathy February 5, 2018 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness, Jessica, definitely a cut above the rest of us and on the way to becoming a proper gardener… For me, life is too short to turn a compost heap (and I am sure Monty doesn’t turn all of his himself…), but perhaps I should at least make an effort 🙂 Interesting to read about some of the potential compost ingredients that I hadn’t considered – hmm, where did I leave that starfish…? I have been adding cardboard and paper (address labels in particuar) for the last year or so, and generally my compost has been OK just leaving it unturned for a season

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      If all else fails I’m thinking I can just pile everything into my four bins in turn and use the hopefully excellent compost which results on a rotational basis. But I shall try and do it properly. For a little while anyway!

  18. bumbleandme February 5, 2018 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Fantastic! I have been looking to do exactly the same here in soggy Wales. You’ve inspired me to pull my finger out and get on with it. Monty would be proud! X

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that Wales is soggy too. You can see how bad it is here from the ground in front of the compost bins. I can barely get to them to put stuff in. Very squelchy!

  19. Jennifer February 5, 2018 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Wow, nice job. We had a drum-type compost bin, you know the kind you flip over periodically, given to us by someone who didn’t want it anymore. Unfortunately, it had a big crack in the bottom (maybe a joining seam that had failed) and we couldn’t use it without a huge mess. I really want to try again with a better one.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      I had one of those in my last garden and it never really worked properly, even without a crack in the bottom. Everything came out too dry. The static type is proving better for me and, allowing space for the flipping, actually takes up less room. It’s worth trying again, home made compost is a great thing to have.

  20. Mark and Gaz February 5, 2018 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    You may find that even five might not be enough 🙂

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      It wouldn’t have been last year. With all the ground I was clearing we were resorting to burning it. Not very eco friendly.

  21. Anna February 5, 2018 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Oh how exciting Jessica – you’ll soon be producing beautiful crumbly stuff. I had to knock my compost bin in the head as certain rodents thought it looked rather inviting but I do have a bin at the allotment site. I don’t know whether you’ve heard of this but quite a number of our male plot holders wee on their compost heaps as it apparently speeds up the whole process. Might be rather cold though to send Mike out at the moment to oblige 🙂

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      He would take a lot of persuading, even in high summer. Actually especially in high summer as there’s a public footpath not far away..

  22. wherefivevalleysmeet February 5, 2018 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    The soft creamy colour of the Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’ is delightful.
    We have a compost bin similar to yours – my husband clambers into it and delights in turning everything over with a large fork and then admires the results – he thinks that it is wonderful to behold!

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      Having discovered how difficult it is to produce good compost I can quite understand your husband’s delight!

  23. pollymacleod February 5, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    I’m so envious. I inherited a concrete bin thing when I took on my allotment. It had some great compost in it. Then I was given a green plastic bin but I haven’t much luck with that. The crocus is pretty.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it strange how different containers can produce such different results? Perhaps it is down to how much heat they retain or moisture they allow in. Composting is a complex science.

  24. Cheryl West February 5, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    I just have black plastic bins but use them faithfully so have had some useful compost though it seems to take ages. Probably not enough starfish here either. A local Starbucks is very generous in bagging up the used coffee filters and grains. The bags are free for the taking to enrich one’s compost pile.

    • Jessica February 7, 2018 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      It’s good to know that coffee grounds are a useful addition. They’re also supposed to be good at repelling molluscs although I have to say that never worked for me. The challenge in this damp place may be too great.

  25. germac4 February 5, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I have ”Snow Bunting” Crocus envy looking at your photo, I just can’t seem to get it right with crocus, so I’m leaving it up to you. We also have been inspired by Monty and his organised garden…everything always looks so easy with him doesn’t it? However, we do have plastic drums for compost, and although it has taken a few years to get it right, it is worth it for the difference it makes to the veggie garden.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      It is worth persisting isn’t it. I’m encouraged by the fact that we found useable compost in the bottom of the old bins. It at least proves that it is not impossible!

  26. wherethejourneytakesme February 5, 2018 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    You have upstaged us we only have 3!! If we added a fourth we would be in the flower bed. Compost is an art to be mastered – we have to have ours stood on concrete flags to stop any rats nesting from below and a couple of years ago we had bees in ours and the odd rabbit. Iron sheeting sides are really good and makes excellent compost as it heats up well – we used this as a stop gap when we first got the cottage – the new wooden bins look good but are not as quick at decomposing the heap. Have fun Jessica – I like the idea of the ladder to climb in there!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      We’ve used aluminium sheets as a lid. I’m hoping that these will get quite warm when the sun hits them (briefly) in summer and have a similar heat retaining effect. I’m worried about all the references to rats that are cropping up here..

  27. Kris P February 6, 2018 at 12:42 am - Reply

    I’m very impressed with your newly constructed, very professional looking compost bins. I’ve got a metal “compost tumbler,” which we also inherited with the property, probably due to it being nearly useless and too big for the prior owner to move. In our first year here, I diligently followed the guidance I found on-line for making effective use of it, turning it a few times each week, adding water, etc. Supposedly, I could expect beautiful compost in 2-3 months time. Ha! The joke was on me. I still add material to it and turn it periodically. (It makes a sound that suggests that I’m slowly pulverizing small, defenseless animals.) But, as soon as the metal casing disintegrates more fully making it easier to discard, it’s out of here and I’ll be enlisting my spouse to construct a “real” compost bin system.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Kris, you are not supposed to put the raccoons in the compost tumbler… 😉

  28. Cortney February 6, 2018 at 1:23 am - Reply

    I’ve been pretty lucky to get great compost out of throwing all of the usual suspects into 2 of our 4 bins and just turning them often into the other two bins. I pay shamefully little attention to the balance of green/wet to brown/dry, but we do have a chipper so that seems to speed things up and do a good job mixing it all up. In any event, I think the turning does more for the final product than anything else, but the small size the chipper gives us sure does help! Great post and beautiful bins!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Cortney and welcome.
      I shall persist with the turning. Apart from anything else it’s a good workout!

  29. Susan Garrett February 6, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

    We have five bats in our allotment which we easily fill. One is for weeds and another from other things. . We find having he correct proportion of green to brown waste almost impossible. It is also really hard going turning it. All in all we manage usable compost despite everything but it came take over a year ti produce,

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Part of the rationale for having four bins is that we have sufficient capacity to give it all time to rot down. If there is a reason for extending it to five bins this will be it. I’d hate to find that I have to revert to burning stuff just because I’ve nowhere else to put it.

  30. Torrington Tina February 6, 2018 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Oh, that does look like a smart system. I have three bins and a dalek, just about enough space. I find that lids are essential down here in Devon, too much rain ruins the composting process. Old hay from our barn and any amount of cardboard works wonders, and I do admit to using a compost accelerator in moderate amounts. Happy composting!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      The evidence of rain is clearly visible in the pictures. I can hardly get to the bins at the moment. Oh roll on Spring!

  31. croftgarden February 6, 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    An impressive set of smart bins. Making good compost requires the normal mix of art, science and patience. Turning big compost bins regularly is tough, so every six months I move the contens of the full bin to an empty bin and anything very coarse is thrown into a half empty bin with the “fresher material”. When you start a new bin, add some of the old compost as your “starter culture” with a few red compost worms if you see any. My magic ingredient is a few fork loads of seaweed as a tonic which may or may not include starfish!
    I’m sure you’ll suceed, it just take time.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      You are more likely to see starfish than most! Thanks for the advice Chris, the ‘starter culture’ is an excellent idea.

  32. ginaferrari February 6, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I was doing really well with my compost until I discovered the nest of baby rats who had made their home there. I’ve not been able to bring myself to use it since!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Eeeek. Now you have me worried. I can only be grateful that our bins are sited quite a way from the house.

  33. Sarah February 6, 2018 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    I’m sure those new bins will serve you well. We have always struggled to get good compost, the key is definitely having a mix of ingredients. After attracting rats after adding vegetable peelings to our compost here we sadly gave it up and just have a worm bin.Layering this has helped produce something good. Sarah x

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      I’m worried about the rats. Perhaps I should just stick to garden compost and leave the kitchen waste to the dustbin. I’m glad you found a better solution though.

  34. snowbird February 6, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I have three huge plastic composting bins that are useless, they just mummify the vegetation in them! Way to go that girl, look forward to seeing the crumbly black stuff! It can’t fail now!xxx

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Please don’t say it can’t fail! Well I have some crumbly black stuff already and that was without too much effort. Wouldn’t it be the pits if I tried really hard and got nothing?

  35. Brian Skeys February 7, 2018 at 10:26 am - Reply

    I think one advantage Monty has over us is the team of gardeners required to produce GW!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Indeed. And all of them a lot younger and fitter than us no doubt.

  36. Sue February 7, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Jessica, have you seen CompostWoman’s blog? Not updated so much recently, but may be of interest, esp her ‘hungry bin’ and ‘hot bin’ reports? wwwDOTthe-compostbin.com/

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      I have! We recently started following each other on Twitter. She has the same bins as me. Perhaps I can’t fail after all.. ho ho ho. Thanks for the link. It’s always good to hear about people tackling the same sort of challenges.

  37. Peter Herpst February 7, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Watch out Monty, there’s a new composter in town and Rusty Duck will give you a run for your money! Your new bins look great.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Peter I have a way to go. Plus Monty has a large team behind him not to mention the resources of the BBC. I have a garden fork. I don’t give up easily though..

  38. welshhillsagain February 7, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Having been away from blogging for ages it is lovely to come back and find you are still writing! We have five bins like yours and have been running them for about six or seven years. We thought we would turn them but we just don’t. Too big and horrid a job it turns out! What works for us is being really disciplined about what goes on the heap, no perennial weeds, no sticks and stuff (I am very bad this!), covering the heap when it is full with old carpet and just leaving it for ages and ages. I think it takes about two years to make really good compost in this lazy way but it does happen, in the end. And there is never enough, ever.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      I think that might well be where I end up. If I have enough bins then I can just keep adding to them and it will happen eventually. Two years sounds about right. That’s how long it must have taken for the stuff I extracted from the old bins. Glad to see you back Elizabeth!

  39. Ali February 7, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    I love your list of items that can be composted. I’ve come across similar lists before and been slightly horrified. Can there really be that much nutrition in a hairball or a few nail-clippings?

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Ali and welcome.
      Exactly. This is why I won’t be walking all the way to the bottom of the garden to deposit a broken nail!

  40. Chris N February 8, 2018 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Very nice compost bins. i leave all that to my gardener daughter and my husband. I just walk by and make comments:0

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Comments are always valuable. I wish I could get my husband to understand that..

  41. offtheedgegardening February 8, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Very impressive, the only way is up now!

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      You’re right. If only because currently there is no down..

  42. Charles February 9, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I have 3 Daley plastic bins and a square wooden bin. The excess grass goes in the wooden bin which gets emptied and taken to the dump about once a year. For the rest everting goes into bin 1. When 1 is full I start on Bin 2. When 2 is full I empty bin 1 into bin 3 which is then full of reasonable compost. Extras and overflows go into the wooden bin. This works fairly well as the garden is not huge and much of it is lawn. I do use the lawn mower on leaves though, I rake them up into heaps in the winter then run the mower over them. Nicely chopped leaves go into bin bags and the lawn is clean. Bin bags hidden behind greenhouse. Anybody spot the ex-engineer in this approach?

    Fantastic blog, makes me laugh and I get ideas. My mother lived on Dartmoor as a girl in the early 1940s and 50s and I have many cousins in Devon, beautiful place but can be a touch wild and wet at times, very pretty rivers and streams with added trout are a bonus.

    • Jessica February 10, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comments on the blog Charles, good to have you back! Devon can be a touch wild and wet MOST times, or at least that is how it feels at the moment. I never thought our river had any fish in it until this last year when we’ve started to get visits from a heron. He spends quite a while standing in the shallows doing the swirly foot thing so I assume he must be getting something worthwhile.
      Your approach to composting sounds very similar to ours. There is very little lawn here so most of my input is going to be prunings and weeds. What we also need to do is start leaf composting. No shortage of those either.

  43. Charles February 9, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

    For Daley read dalek, for iPad read useful idiot.

    • Jessica February 10, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

      That spellchecker is a mixed blessing. I’m sure it will get me into serious trouble one of these days..

  44. Sue C. February 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Lots of thoughts on compost – but I’ll add mine anyway! It’s taken me a while to get it right – we have 4 bins here – made from old pallets, which allow some air to circulate. I try to mix up green and brown rubbish and add cardboard ( torn up) and egg shells but NO perennial weeds. My results have certainly been better since I’ve started turning – but I only do it once – not as often as Monty! When I can get it, I put horse manure as a bottom layer – seems to work well. With one turning I find it’s ready to use in about a year – so this autumns bin is usually ready for laying on the veggie beds next autumn. It’s good stuff – although does not get hot enough to be completely weed free – and there’s never enough! Our local tip sells soil conditioner made from council recycled green waste which I use as a mulch to supplement my own compost – and that seems to be completely weed free.
    Good luck – it’s very satisfying!

    • Jessica February 10, 2018 at 10:33 am - Reply

      It is very satisfying. I never felt right taking bin loads of rubbish down to the tip, even though they recycle it there’s still all the trips in the car to get it there. Burning it felt even worse. To be getting something valuable out of the weeds has to be a win win. I shall persist with the turning, I’m sure it must make a difference.

  45. Indie February 11, 2018 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    That looks very serious and professional indeed! My ‘compost heap’ is really just a dumping spot in the woods. It’s in the shade and I never turn it, so it never gets hot enough. It’s probably just turned into a nice home for mice. Dumped leftover seedlings, however, grow beautifully in the pile! Yours looks like it will work out much better, especially with all those great nail clippings and dead starfish, ha!

    • Jessica February 11, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      The starfish could be a problem. I once found a dead jellyfish on the beach near here but will that work as well one wonders. We also have a dumping spot in the woods and my fear is that will work better than the official arrangement! Time will tell.

  46. hb February 12, 2018 at 5:23 am - Reply

    I use plastic garbage bins with the bottom cut off. Wide end down so I can pull the bin up and off, the lid set on top to keep the moisture in, because it is so dry here.

    Yours is much more attractive. Monty D. would surely be proud.

    • Jessica February 13, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      At the end of the day the important thing is that it works. I like the simplicity of your system and that it keeps the moisture in. Perfect recipe for compost in short order!

  47. Julieanne February 14, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

    In a past garden I had those modular compost bins and they work really well as it’s so much easier to adjust the height etc and access the composting material. Good luck – your new system looks very impressive.

    • Jessica February 14, 2018 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      That’s encouraging to know, thanks Julieanne. The ease of access is what sold it to me too, especially if I’m going to be turning the stuff frequently. We need to do a bit of work on them though.. already the wet weather has swollen the wood and made the planks difficult to move!

  48. ourhouseplants February 19, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    It’s so expensive to buy compost from garden centres (for the amount you get) and you can’t ever be sure where it’s come from. So I’m a firm believer of doing it at home wherever possible too. It’s easy and once set up, basically free. Unfortunately I’ve moved to a new build and garden space shall we say is beyond precious! I did do it with one of those tubs at a previous home we lived in and that produced a fair amount, however your set up should give you masses when it gets going. I’m determined to get a small compost heap going somewhere so thank you for the inspiration.

    • Jessica February 19, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Hello and welcome.
      It is so satisfying turning garden waste into useable compost. I wish I’d got serious about it years ago. A frustration we’ve already encountered is that there is more garden waste than capacity. After a day of winter clearing one of the bins is already completely full. A shame because I can always use as much compost as I can get!

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