late winter our home compost bins can be full because they have not
rotted down much for weeks. Yet dead and decaying plants are
emerging from the frost and snow and there are broken branches
everywhere. What can we do with it all?
The first thing to do is to see if you can make some
space in your home compost bin by emptying out any finished compost
there may be at the bottom. The technique for harvesting this
compost varies from bin to bin see
Emptying Your Compost Bin
If your bin has a hatch at the bottom you can use this to have a
look and see if the stuff at the bottom looks usable. If it does,
lift the whole bin off the heap, fork back into the empty bin all
the material that has not rotted down until you get to the usable
compost. Put this compost into a plastic sack and store it in a shed
or a corner of the garden until you are ready to use it in the
By doing this you have also turned your compost heap which will help
it to start working again.
If you cannot make any more space in your home
compost bin why not get another one?
A New Zealand Box type is easy to make and while the traditional
size is 1 metre square they can be as small as half a metre square
or as big as 2 metres square. See our leaflet
Making a New Zealand Box for
Branches, twigs and woody stuff are always difficult to deal with.
Unless you can shred them they will take a long time to rot down and
still be little twigs when everything else in the heap is ready to
However you can recycle some as plant supports: would that twiggy
branch help to prop up the catmint and stop it flopping all over the
path? Could you tie a tomato plant to that straight stick? Climbing
plants like sweet peas, eating peas, cucumbers and nasturtiums all
prefer the rough bark of sticks and twigs from the garden rather
than smooth bamboo.
See dealing with woody prunings
for more details.
You can also make a dead hedge : somewhere you can
put all those awkward to deal with things like rose prunings,
clematis and ivy. Leave them, contained, in an out of the way corner
to slowly rot down. See our leaflet on
Making a Dead Hedge for full
If you have mostly kitchen green waste to compost
see how to deal with this
Kitchen Waste and if your Christmas tree is still by the back
door have a look at
Recycle your Christmas tree
Spring will come one day, the garden will grow and your compost will
be a pleasure to use!