Now is the time to sort out your com­post, says Ruth

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

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

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