Managing your compost heap
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