Make your own compost...

Climate Change & Composting: David and Jane Straker

“What is the connection?” you ask. Well if vegetable waste goes to landfill as it rots in anaerobic conditions it generates methane gas – one of the most powerful greenhouse gases.
Green waste composted by the Council is different. It makes good soil conditioner sold by the Council relatively inexpensively at £2 a bag. This is great to mulch plants with or to add to your vegetable patch. Because the large heaps get very hot the resulting compost is virtually weed free. If you pay for a brown bin then the contents are kept separate from general waste and composted by the Council. If you buy green composting bags from the Council unfortunately these are not composted but collected with black bin rubbish and added to the general waste. 
If you have a little space in your garden you can make your own compost. Have a look at the Council Website. Type “purchase a compost bin from Herefordshire Council” into your search engine or click this link. The price of bins starts at £22.50. We have 2. They are great if you have limited space. We don’t find it realistic to expect to be able to dig ready-to spread compost from the little door at the bottom of the bin. Ideally when your bin is really full, turn the contents into the second bin. It is important to know that an apparently full bin will settle quiet rapidly especially in warm weather so give it a day or two before deciding it is full to capacity. By the time the second bin is really full the first bin is probably ready to use. With a bit more space in your garden you can make a couple of bins out of old pallets instead.

Time taken to compost...
How long does compost take to be ready for use? How long is a piece of string?
Compost will decompose more quickly if:
It is a good mixture of different things, brown and green – if cleaning out your chickens or rabbits add this to the heap.

It is not too coarse.
It is damp - not wet, so we cover our heap if that is practical but if the compost has been added during a very dry spell we may water it. A dose of discretely applied human urine will speed things up.

The weather is warm.
When it is ready it will have turned brown and begun to look a bit like soil. The original ingredients will no longer be identifiable and it will have shrunk in volume. Homemade compost is ideal for adding nutrients to your garden soil ready for the next crop of vegetables. It will probably contain some weed seed so even when sieved I would not use it to grow seedlings, and to save later weeding it is best used for places where you will be turning it in to the soil and not for mulching perennial crops - plants like raspberries or roses.
If you need to move your compost on to make space for the new stuff to be added but it is still a bit “underdone” one excellent use is to dig a shallow trench under a place where you are going to grow a hungry crop like climbing beans put in a good layer of your partially decomposed compost and cover with soil.
You will most likely also have some coarse woody potential compost that would be best put through a chipper and composted in bigger and therefore hotter piles. In a large garden you can give these hedge clippings and prunings a separate heap and leave them to rot for longer. We share a brown wheelie bin with our neighbour and put such coarse material in it, saving the need to make a trip to the tip to put it in the green waste skip there.
Good composting!                                                              

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