Garden material dumped at the bottom of a garden in a "compost" heap
In this section we will consider different traditional methods of composting but first as a object leason I include a photo of the type of traditional "open air heap" that may still be found in some gardens and that has done much in the past to
put people off composting.
This photo was taken in the garden of a cottage in the Lake District in the spring of 2014.
All the waste material from the garden has been dumped against the wall at the bottom of the garden to rot. New grass mowings
can be seen near the front of the heap. Older grass cuttings are rotting as a wet smelly mat. There is no evidence of any attempt to harvest composted material.
In the past no garden was without its compost heap and while dumping the waste in
a corner of the garden could hardly be considered a “method”, as it solely depending on the fact that "Compost Just Happens", it would all breakdown eventually.
It might be argued that this is the “traditional method” of
composting. Those as ancient as myself can remember gardens with vaste plies of compost lurking, in slightly threatening, heaps that take on a life of their own while the composting just happens. Tradition had it that the bigger the heap the bette the
composting as the material would heat up and retain the heat better speeding up the decomposition and killing weeds and disease causing organisms. This is true but the mix and the conditions need to right to make the compost heap and asset rather than
In the days where gardens consisted of a large lawn the grass mowings, having a high nitrogen, content rotted formed a wet, black evil smelling slime that would ouse out of the heap. This will still happen when composting grass in a
modern bin, but on a smaller scale. unless the grass is mixed with carbon rich garden material, such as straw, hay, wood shavings or litter from the chicken shed. . Today we would also add cardboard and shredded paper as a source of carbon.
was a brave gardener who attacked, or attempted to harvest, the beast of a compost heap and many an amateur garden must have dreamt of moving house rather than risking life and limb in an assault on the monster.
The pile could be tamed
slightly by retaining the composting material within a cage made of wood, corrugate tin (in the past asbestos sheet was popular!), wire netting or even old tyres.
Containing the compost in such bins had the advantage of making it easier
to turn the material, so as to provide aeration and reinvigorate the composting process.
To retain moisture during the summer and to prevent soaking during rain it was often covered by carpet.