Man­ag­ing your com­post heap

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

If your com­post heap is any­thing like mine it will have tre­bled in size since the spring! I claim it’s a tes­ta­ment to our en­thu­si­asm on the plot, but a large pile of rot­ting veg­e­ta­tion can soon lose its ap­peal if it’s not looked af­ter prop­erly.

Com­post­ing is a science, rather than a pile of rub­bish. If you’ve read up on it you may well have come across ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ – which refers to the two main types of ma­te­rial that you add to your heap. Greens in­clude soft, sappy items like vegetable peel­ings, rot­ten fruit, grass clip­pings and lush leaves; brown in­gre­di­ents re­fer to woody ma­te­ri­als like prun­ings, dried-up stems and an­i­mal bed­ding such as hay and straw.

Es­sen­tially you need a mix­ture of each for suc­cess­ful com­post­ing, plus they should be blended to­gether rather than added in lay­ers. In an ideal world you’d pass all your com­post items through a gar­den shred­der be­fore pil­ing them on the heap – this in­creases their sur­face area hugely which en­cour­ages rapid rot­ting. A quick chop with shears is a good sec­ond best. Avoid com­post­ing weed seed­heads and ag­gres­sive gar­den dis­eases like potato blight and onion white rot. for thor­ough de­com­po­si­tion, turn over your heap monthly so that all ma­te­rial gets time in the mid­dle – the, hottest part of the pile, at some point.

The larger the heap, the quicker it rots down be­cause it can build up sur­pris­ingly high tem­per­a­tures. Dry ma­te­ri­als won’t rot so con­sider adding a liq­uid com­post ac­ti­va­tor to keep the process go­ing. Your com­post needs to be blended to­gether

‘Browns’ on the left, ‘greens’ on the right

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