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Composting Tips


Composting Tips

Our latest blog from Master Gardener Phil Guest.

Composting

It takes nature 600 years to produce 1 inch of topsoil so we need to produce something to replace any which we lose.

Composting is a very good and responsible way of recycling your green waste and can be used to top up the soil in our gardens and containers.

 

Weeding without composting the weeds results in lost soil and nutrients.

You can compost all manner of things including your uncooked kitchen waste, grass clippings, garden waste (weeds and pruning’s) even old newspapers. Bizarrely you can compost human hair and woolen items as they contain valuable nutrients.

If your compost heap is working well it should not smell bad.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do put a mix of things on your heap. Mix green leaves and dry or twiggy things together.

Do use shredded paper or torn up newspapers layered into your heap.

Do sprinkle old compost or soil onto your heap after every layer as this introduces microbes which aid the process.

Do cover your heap with carpet or plastic sheet to keep it warm and stop it drying out as a hot heap breaks down faster.

Do chop things up before putting them on the heap, they will rot down faster.

Do try to have as big a heap as possible as it will get hotter and work better.

Do stir the contents of your heap every few weeks to keep it working.

Do put urine onto your heap as the nitrogen in it hastens break down.

Do NOT put too much of one thing on the heap at once.

Do NOT put large amounts of grass clippings on together as it becomes slimy. You can mix it with shredded paper.

Do NOT put meat on your heap or cooked food or dairy products as these attract rats.

The contents of your heap when they rot down will give your plants a very useful boost when mixed into your beds and containers.

And now specially for the KIDS…………………….

Creepy Crawly Zoo

Your compost heap is home to a wide range of interesting animals. You can find all sorts of things in your heap as it gets older.

Worms; A worm produces its own body weight in poo every day. This is around one gram, there are about 500 worms in a square meter of compost heap that’s half a kilo of poo every day and 182.5 kilos a year. That’s the same as nearly 200 bags of sugar. It’s lucky that Elephants don’t do that.

Woodlice; Woodlice are little grey armour plated bugs that eat rotting plants and wood. They are related to shrimps and prawns, you could eat them but they are not very nice and are very crunchy.

Spiders; The type of spiders you find in and around your heap are mostly the sort that creep up on insects and catch them not the type that make webs.

Beetles; There will be lots of different sorts of beetles in your heap different colours and sizes you could look them up in a book.

Slugs and Snails; These love eating rotten plants and prefer them to healthy ones. You may find out that lots of the beetles you find will eat the slugs and snails.

Ants; Ants are very strong and can carry several times their own body weight. Imagine if you could do that.

Mice; Mice sometimes make a nest in a compost heap because it is warm and good for hiding.

Rats; We don’t really want to have rats in our compost heap they normally turn up if we accidentally put cooked food or meat on it.

Snakes; If you are near the country or open land you could find Grass Snakes in your heap. They don’t bite and are harmless, they mostly eat rats and mice. If you are lucky you may find Slow Worms these look like snakes but really they are lizards without legs. They eat slugs and snails. They have a funny name as they are not slow or worms.

More blogs from Phil:

Autumn crops – no need to stop growing yet

Do you know where your veg originally comes from?

More blogs from Master Gardeners

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