November Composting Tasks
November is not to late to apply compost as a mulch it can be applied both to established beds and around specimen plants. Compost can be used as mulch to top dress the lawn in the autumn when people are less likely to spend time in the garden and may not worry about the look of compost on the lawn.
If using an open pile or New Zealand bin and it has not been covered yet there is still time to do so using carpet, tarpaulin or a compost duvet.
There should still plenty of material available to feed the compost heap with more becoming available as plants in the flower bed catch the frost. If it is not practical to start a second bin, store the extra material it in a covered pile or plastic sack It is important to keep the pile dry, as dry material will heat up in a bin more quickly than wet. Material being saved in the autumn for use as bulking agent in food composting e.g. sawdust or composted wood chip used should also be kept dry. (I keep mine in plastic dustbins)
The tops and trimmers of root vegetables will continue to be available for composting on the allotment and their peelings from the kitchen. Plants with discoloured and blotchy leaves are safe to compost as the organisms causing the blotches will be broken down in during the composting process. Carved pumpkins can be composted after Halloween Composting Pumpkins chopped and composted.
It is helpful to turn the compost bin, to mix the new material and aerate it to encourage the composting processes before the onset of winter.
Towards the end of the month it is advisable to check the consistency and moisture level of the contents. If the material is too dry more greens can be added e.g. nettles and annual weeds along with water or the sludge from compost tea. If too wet scrumpled cardboard shredded paper, woodchip or sawdust can be added.
Wormeries should be moved into a shed or outbuilding or if they are to be left outside during the winter the bin should be insulated so that the contents and worms are not frozen, I have round that a triple layer of bubble wrap makes an excellent insulating material which does not absorb water, is clean and easy to reuse. The worms will still need feeding during the winter, although at a reduced rate, so a removable bubble wrap lid should be included.
Bag autumn leaves for leaf mould or as a carbon-rich winter source of Browns for the compost bin on the allotment where cardboard or shredded paper will not be available. The autumn leaves can also be used immediately in the compost bin layering them with grass clippings, kitchen waste and other plant material but remember that the leaves tend to be slow to decompose, so this may not be the method of choice (see Leaf mould). Some leaves can be set aside to add to the compost bin during the winter months to provide a source of Browns when most of the other material being added is kitchen waste.