GET COMPOSTING FOR AUTUMN
Now is the time to sort out your compost, says Ruth
Be careful when turning compost in autumn and winter, as its warmth may be providing a welcome refuge for hibernating hedgehogs and amphibians.
HOT dry summers are good for almost all the garden – except the compost heap. Too much heat and not enough rain dries the material and halts the composting process, so it comes as a relief when cooler, wetter weather returns.
We are lucky enough to have room for a two-bin composting system. One bin is left to rot down while we add green material, chipped woody material, shredded paper and green kitchen peelings to the other. We also add a little wood ash for extra potassium, but not too much as it can alter the pH level of the finished compost.
After a few months, the rotting bin will have produced a pile of lush, crumbly goodness that we either spread on beds or bag up until needed.
Then the full compost bin is left to decompose and we start re-filling the now-empty bin.
Home-made compost also makes excellent potting compost and seed compost when mixed with sharp sand and leafmould, and making your own can save your some serious pennies.
Wooden compost bins are easy to create using old pallets or wooden planks. If you don’t have room for openair composting, plastic ‘Dalek’ bins work just as well. They are widely available from garden centres and DIY stores, and are easy to hide away behind a garage or shed.
Avoid adding lots of the same material at once as it can become smelly and wet (too many grass clippings) or dry (brown material with not enough green waste). Turning the compost every few weeks helps get the balance right.
Turn compost to mix it well and let in water and air
Lovely crumbly mature compost
A little ash adds potassium to the mix