Now that autumn is here and we are clearing the spent growth of
summer from the garden our home compost bins are bulging.
Here are some tips to help you fit a quart into a pint pot!
Big mounds of loose material like pea or sweet pea
vines take up a lot of space. Reduce their volume by chopping them
up. The easiest way to do this is to spread them roughly on the
grass and gently and carefully lower, then run a rotary mower over
them. You may need to go back and forward a few times to get all the
bits picked up.
herbaceous plants like delphiniums, asters and lupins develop quite
woody stems and these take a long time to rot down in a compost bin.
To speed up the decomposition chop them into small pieces or use a
rotary mower on them. If you have a shredder you can put them
through this and your compost wonít have any large woody bits in it.
When cutting back shrubs or trees take a look at the branches you
have cut off Ė could you use them for plant supports next year?
Would those bigger stems and branches be usable as kindling for an
open fire or a barbecue? Could you keep the midges away by burning
them in a cheminia?
When pulling out annual plants donít shake all the soil off the
roots. The billions of micro-organisms in the soil will do the
composting work for you and make the contents of your bin rot down
faster. This soil will do a much better job than any expensive
Add extra grass mowings to your home compost bin: the heat they
generate will speed up the decomposition of the tougher stuff in
your compost bin. They also help keep
the contents of your bin moist; the stalky stuff you are putting in
is quite dry and a dry bin stops working. However if you are using a
selective herbicide or moss killer on your lawn you should not
compost the mowings for at least three cuts after application. The
herbicide kills the micro-organisms in your home compost bin so
nothing will rot down.
If your home compost bin is full donít be tempted to ram everything
down really hard, leaving no air in the middle of the heap.
Composting micro-organisms in the centre of the bin need air to
breathe. Let the weight of the material and the decomposition reduce
the level to make more space. In the meantime, make a neat pile of
surplus material beside your home compost bin or get another compost
bin. You could make yourself a New Zealand Box.
If you think there might be compost ready at the bottom of your home
compost bin, empty the bin and store the compost in plastic sacks
until you are ready to use it in the spring. The turning that you
will have done speeds up the composting process and the contents of
your home compost bin will shrink down all the faster.
Autumn clearing can be reused and