This is a mucky task, and one that takes a fair bit of time and lots of hard work. I have three plastic compost bins like this one:
I reserve one of them for making leaf-mould, and the other two are for garden and kitchen waste. I try to rotate them, with one "cooking" while the other is filling up, but it doesn't always work as neatly as that. This time both bins were full and the task had become really urgent, since there was no longer anywhere to put vegetable peelings from the kitchen, and I really had to empty one of the bins. Fortunately last weekend both the weather and my health were conducive to a spot of compost-digging...
With the aid of a garden fork I removed the top layer of material in the bin (about one-third of its depth), and set it to one side on an old Army groundsheet. It was very sticky and a bit smelly too, and absolutely heaving with worms. Those of you who regularly follow my blog know full well that I have a penchant for displaying photos of worms.... I'm going to let you off lightly this time and just tell you there were thousands and thousands of worms. I'll just show you a photo of the partly-rotted stuff after the worms had wriggled into hiding:
After removal of the top layer, I was left with the good stuff - dark, crumbly, soil-like compost:
It is the worms that take the credit for producing this wonderful natural plant-food and soil-improver. I hardly do anything. I just keep adding more material throughout the year, and occasionally I aerate it by jabbing in a long pole and wiggling it about - nothing scientific at all, and I certainly don't go to any trouble balancing the greens with the browns (although I avoid putting in any large woody stems, which I take to the municipal tip).
I used my spade to load up my trusty trug-tub time after time, using it to transfer the material to my raised beds and bins. I lost count after a while, but I think I had about 20 trug-tub loads. In case you don't know what a trug-tub is, this is one - it's a fair bit bigger than a standard bucket:
I spread the compost roughly over the surface of the soil, to a depth of 2 or 3 inches. I didn't spend much time making it too even, because I know what will happen now - the Blackbirds will root about in it for the next few days, looking for insects, and the compost will be, shall we say "re-distributed". Maybe next weekend I'll rake it over and even it out.
You might just be able to make out the dark layer of compost on all the raised beds in this photo:
So that now all my raised beds and the big tubs have had a good dose of this compost, I can start thinking about sowing and planting, with a clear conscience in the knowledge that my gardening year's hardest task is complete. I'll leave the contents of other bin to rot down a bit more while this recently-emptied one slowly fills up again.
We just have makeshift compost heaps on the plot but They seem to produce some reasonable compost after a year or so.ReplyDelete
Awesome. I started a compost pile last fall. I'll crack it open to see what I have in the next few weeks.ReplyDelete
Lovely looking compost-just think of all that goodness you are adding...ReplyDelete
You've made some wonderful black gold there Mark... I have a traditional compost heap at the allotment and a wormery at home but I think I need to sort myself out one of your plastic compost bins as well.ReplyDelete
PS - The sight of worms makes me happy and I'd have loved to see a photo! Sadly, we have New Zealand Flatworm so they're a rare sight outside of the wormery.
I can't wait until my first compost is ready. Mine goes a lot slower since the worms are just finding my new yard. At my old house I'd have millions of worms throughout the compost. Here I'm lucky to see a couple at the same time. I rarely see one. I think this coming year will be better though. A few have found the garden and now they can reproduce here. I surely give them enough to eat.ReplyDelete
That's a job that needs doing here too. It's amazing to think that all the waste put in to the bin turns in to something so good for the garden.ReplyDelete
You made me want to run right out into the garden. I have to go to the store though. It is our famous free table day. Yup we give a bunch of stuff away free!! Anyhooo...your garden is so beautiful with the compost on it. I am off the next two days and I'm praying for nice weather.ReplyDelete
Sadly I only have one compost bin, and since I only took over custodianship of this garden less than two years ago it doesn't seem to be neither ready nor enough. But that's where my mother-in-law comes in; she gave my husband a ton (1000kg!!!) of compost for his birthday! How's that for a present, eh?ReplyDelete
It will be delivered next week, and my part of his birthday present will be to distribute it and grow stuff in it.
I do, though, look forward to being able to produce enough compost for the garden's needs, but while I keep making such large areas of new flower beds I will have to use external sources of organic material.
We have just been using our very first batch of home-made compost - it is wonderful stuff, so much nicer than that which we used to buy. Good old worms!ReplyDelete
Must have a look at the Dalek bin sometime. Going to wait until April to see how the new pallet compost bin is doing. The level has dropped quite a bit since I capped it off in the Autumn so decomposition must be going well fingers crossed. I'm sure your beds will benefit from that mulch of homegrown compost, can't beat it!ReplyDelete
I make my own compost too Mark....I bought a wooden composter from the council for £30 and it is a fabulous piece of kit! Looks nice too! LOVE your raised beds, you are so well prepared already.ReplyDelete
Your compost looks great. I love the idea that you don't have to turn yours like I am supposed to "turn" my pile. Mostly I just leave it and it still turns into compost. It looks wonderful on your gardens.ReplyDelete
Your compost is inspiring! Just added a new compost bin to the garden. It's so exciting! How often do you stir yours up?ReplyDelete
Your compost looks perfect! That's a job I need to do yet.ReplyDelete
Hi Mark. Hope you're feeling better now. Your compost looks wonderful and I'll bet your veg crop this year will be brilliant as a result. The beds certainly look very snug with their new compost blankets!!! lol xReplyDelete
Amazing stuff - that's a job I have been doing over the last few days - still got quite a bit left so I'll be distributing that on the flower garden.ReplyDelete
Funny, I have compost on my mind as well! Sadly it is snowing here and the garden is covered in it. But soon.... Your garden looks absolutely wonderful!ReplyDelete
What lovely dark compost. Every time I see good compost like this, I find it amazing. How can all those peals and leaves turn to something so good and precious. Since my bin is much smaller, very often, I need to get rid of some half done compost. So that there's space in the bin again. The trees and big bushes seem not to mind the immature compost.ReplyDelete
Great compost! Mine is only a year old, and no worms ... but I'm hoping some of the stuff at the bottom might be ready, so I am using the bottom of your pile as inspiration (I suspect I am going to be disappointed by mine in comparison!)ReplyDelete
Superb blog. You make it all sound so simple.I too do all this hard work, and get mad with the gnats and other stuff. Still, I wont stop! .ReplyDelete
The kitchen waste and garden waste are never thrown away!