Composting Events and news
We have two new compost bins coming onto the Stokes Wood Allotment Demonstration site this week
The first is a small tumbler the Meridin by UPP suitable for those with small gardens or just courtyards. This bin consists of two 70 litre chambers which can be turned independently. As it is made of plastic it may not be rodent proof and is unsuitable for composting cooked food , meat dairy etc Tumblers work best when batch composting batches of organic material so it is best to fill 2/3rds of the first chamber with a mixed load of Greens and Browns approximately 1 part browns to 2 parts greens. The bin is turned 5-10 times on filling. After two or three days the contents should have heated up and will then need turning every 2-3 days. As this is a small bin the moisture will need checking during dry weather with water being added to keep it moist. The compost should be ready within about eight weeks.
This bin will be brought into use this Wednesday and can be seen on Wednesday mornings, subject to Covid-10 regulations/guidelines, when the compost site is open.
The photo shows our new baby next to the Mantis tumbler
The www.carryoncomposting web page on the uses of compost has been revised. It now includes information on compost as a mulch, in the vegetable and flower garden, round trees and additional suggestions for professional gardeners.
Mulch Compost makes an excellent soil improver and will over the years, make the soil easier to work and lead to a better soil structure.
Vegetable Gardens. The "dug in" variation of the surface mulch is favoured by many vegetable gardeners when the mulch is spread and then dig it into the soil in the autumn before planting in the spring or early summer. Digging in will bring the nutrients and humus into the root zone of the plants.
Flower Beds The compost can be applied as a mulch and left on the surface where digging in would damage roots or bulbs.
Trees Used as a mulch round established trees compost can provide essential to a soil which otherwise may be neglected.
Square Foot Gardeners, Use compost as a soil amendment by adding a handful of compost each time anything is added to the bed and work it into the soil top layers. New seeds can be sown in the newly enriched soil.
Compost Use by Professional Gardeners
Planting Trees and shrubs Composting is the ideal material to use as backfill when planting trees and shrubs
Nursery Beds Home compost can be mixed with soil to make a growing medium with good water retention properties and organic content suitable for nursey beds.
Erosion control Compost offers a good means of controlling erosion when the soil surface has been damaged during landscaping
Compost can also be used to make a Liquid Feed and as a component when making seed and potting composts.
It is not necessary to have a garden to compost. In the UK Bokashi fermentation and indoor wormeries are frequently used in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, outdoor composting but indoor aerobic composting is also possible. Although nor commonly used in the UK indoor aerobic composting appears to be used more frequently in the US and features regularly on composting pages of social media.
Materials suitable for indoor aerobic composting
In theory any organic waste that can be composted outdoors can be composted indoors e.g. fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, shredded paper. In practise items that compost slowly are best avoided, due to limited size of indoor bins and lower temperatures reached in smaller bins. Fruit and vegetables with a high-water content, e.g. squash, and strongly smelling waste such as onion are best avoided unless the composter has a filter fitted. As with outdoor composting if the waste material is cut to lengths of about 2” or less, it will breakdown more quickly. Meat, dairy, or fats are not suitable for composting aerobically in a conventional indoor or outdoor bin but can be treated in a Bokashi bin to produce pre-compost.
Shredded paper or cardboard are good carbon rich browns for use in an indoor bin as they are easy to store and will not smell. More browns should be added every time greens are added.
Frequent aeration is necessary as the containers are not designed to provide a high level of ventilation, mixing also breaks up potentially anaerobic lumps and helps provide even moisture distribution. As indoor compost containers are relatively small it difficult to use most types of commercial compost aerators, but a long-handled hand fork makes an effective mixing tool.
There is more information at carryoncomposting.com
Badgers can do considerable damage to a garden and lawn gaining access to the garden through gaps the hedge or by digging under fences . they are creatures of habit and once a garden is on the route, they will visit it regularly. They are protected by law in the UK and it is it illegal to trap, harm or kill a badger, or to interfere with its sett.
Badgers can be attracted to the contents of a compost heap or bin as it provides a good source of food particularly if it contains cooked food, meat or dairy products but the uncooked vegetable and fruit will also provide a good source of nourishment along with all juicy composting worms.
While it is a good idea not to add meat, fats or dairy products to a bin not designed to compost cooked food waste it is advisable to cover any edible kitchen waste in the compost with dry leaves or soil, although this is not very effective at masking the smell.
Infrared triggered LED lights can also be effective at least until the badgers get used to them.
Other suggested deterrents include smelly oils it is said, and it is believed that they are disliked by badgers.
- Olbas Oil contains eucalyptus oil, menthol, cajuput oil, clove oil, juniper berry oil, wintergreen oil and mint oil.
- Citronella oil
- Scotch bonnet peppers Chopped and crushed scattered on the ground
- human (male) urine deters them. The urine can be diluted and sprayed round the bin or plot every 4 weeks
- A Smelly Washing Line at badger height round the area from which cloths impregnated with the smell oils ae hung is suggested by http://badgerland.co.uk/deter/chemical_deterrent.html
- Lion manure is also suggested
Once in the garden there is usually nothing to prevent the badgers gaining access w to a compost heap or pile and help themselves to the fruit, vegetables, and worms. The simple answer is to replace the heap with a bin but if a pile is preferred in order to keep the badgers out it will be necessary to build a fence, at least 120cm high round the pile with the protected are large enough to allow for turning the heap. The fence needs to be wooden or a heavy wire, buried at least 60cm deep with an extension of at least 30cm under the ground to prevent the animals digging into the protected area.
Compost bins are easier to seal against invading badgers than open heaps. Surrounding the bin with paving slabs or large stones can offer a deterrent to a badger gaining access from below
Dalek style plastic bin. Plastic bases are available for the most frequently supplied bin available through Council subsidized schemes or thick wire mesh can be fitted across the base. Those bins designed to take cooked food will include an integral base.
If the bin is supplied with a sliding hatch this can be secured shut with a single screw. The common clip-in hatches can be protected by either weldmesh rigidly fixed in place. If the lid is easily opened it will need securing. Badgers on my plot have tried to chew the secure lid of a Green Johanna but failed to gain entry
Tumblers mounted on a frame off the ground should be relatively safe although the smaller lighter models are best pegged to the ground as they may be knocked over if only partly filled. Metal bins are more resistance to badgers than plastic.
Wooden bins. A Wooden lid offers better protection than a tarpaulin or plastic sheet cover. Mounting the bin on slabs or fitting wire mesh across the base can restrict entry and, depending on the quality of the wood, the sides may need protecting with wire mesh (weld mesh). This should be sealed round all the edges of it can be mounted on a removable frame to fit the sides of the bin and screwed in place so that it can be removed to provide easy access to the bin.
Animal manures have been composted for use in agriculture since the early days of farming using dung from whatever animals were being farmed. Manure from a farmyard or animal pens will also include urine, which has a high nitrogen content, and the soiled carbon rich. bedding e.g. straw. Incorporating manure into the soil is an effective way of replenishing the organic content and creating humus. Adding manure, or other humus rich organic material such as garden compost to the soil increases the biodiversity, and nutrients trace elements help improve the soil structure. This is as important as the provision of N-P-K to the soil but is often overlooked.
According to the Rodale Guide to Composting (1979) manure was considered to be the most important single ingredient in the compost heap, and few heaps did not include at least a layer of manure. The use of manure has fallen out of fashion in home composting possibly as result of concerns relating to pathogend but also as the emphasis of domestic composting has moved from converting garden waste, from a large garden or allotment, into produce a soil enhancer to composting household, kitchen and waste from much smaller gardens garden for environmental reasons such as reducing waste sent to landfill or reducing greenhouse gases.
A new page has been added to www.carryoncomposting.com (http://www.carryoncomposting.com/443725801) looking at the different animal manures that can be used and how they can be incorporated to make the composting hotter and quicker.