In many gardens at home grass cuttings will form a major part of the summer nitrogen rich "Green" material with shredded paper or torn up brown cardboard providing ‘Browns’ to the mix and helping to
aerate the mixture by keeping the compost open and providing air spaces providing suitable conditions for the aerobic composting microorganisms. Compost C: N Ratio
While the right balance of Greens and Browns is important on allotment plots there will be a limited range available. Unlike composting at home there will not be vegetable peelings and other kitchen waste. A smaller
amount of grass will normally be available as few allotments have a lawn, the only source of grass for most plot holders being the paths bordering the plot. Peelings from the kitchen. However, “Greens” will be available in the form of
soft young weeds (before they have seeded) and these rot quickly. The composter having hoed the weeds will not leave them on the ground but should collect them to take advantage of their value to the compost heap as Greens. need to be collected.
Do not put perennial weeds such as buttercup, bindweed or ground elder directly onto the heap as they will survive the composting process unless you are using a “Hot Heap”. They can be put in a plastic sack with some grass mowing if available)
and left to dry until the weeds are no longer recognisable this may take a several months they can then be added to the compost heap. Some weeds can be killed by drowning in a bucket of water for a month or two.
perennial weeds, twigs and chipped wood (if a chipper or shredder is available) are good natural Browns in place of the cardboard that might be used at home.
As mentioned elsewhere but don’t worry about balancing and
getting the right ratio any imbalance that effects the production of the compost cam be rectified. If the composting material is too dry add greens such as comfrey and if it is too wet mix in more Browns
include items such as. Brassica stalks, which are slow to decompose and are best chopped or crushed. Old straw or hay from animal bedding or from around the strawberries is valuable to in providing the correct green brown balance and retaining moisture. Tough
hedge clippings and woody prunings will be very slow to compost. If the plot is positioned so that it is covered in autumn leaves these are very slow to rot and are best treated separately to make leaf mould, but some should be saved in a dry place
as a reserve of Browns to be added if needed.
Comfrey leaves make good “activators” and I would recommend setting aside a small part of the plot for growing this useful plant. Nettles are also very effective
and while I would not recommend growing them on the plot (it might present problems during plot inspections) there may well be some available in the hedges and uncultivated areas, waste ground on the site. See the section on Liquid
If poultry or rabbits are kept, the manure makes a good activator. Some of the horse or cattle manure delivered to manure the site can be kept back to add to the compost bin bulk up other ingredients.
Items that are a little slower to decompose include windfall fruit, the leaves/tops from vegetables. (Remove the carrot, parsnip tops etc to compost on the allotment rather than carry them home to trim later), old flowers
or bedding plants, soft prunings, perennial weeds (if drowned or dried first) and of course tea bags if you can find the time to relax. Please note that not all tea bags will compost. Chop up tough items using shears or a sharp spade. The smaller
you make them the quicker they will compost. They can also be crushed by hitting with the spade or a hammer and I would recommend this technique for pumpkins.