Seven Fat Years

June 1, 2018

wheelbarrow full of compost

OK, so I promised you a post about compost and you were all keen so now I’ve actually got to write one. Naturally, this is the point where I realise that I have nothing really very interesting to say about compost except that it turns out to be much harder than it used to be when I had access to our old landlord’s vast composting infrastructure which consisted of seven huge bays, each of which took a year’s worth of garden waste, were topped off with well-rotted cow manure, covered, and left to mature for seven years until they came round again on the calendar. I can confirm that this method makes lovely compost, but is not much use when you only have a small plastic dalek army and don’t have the luxury of seven years to wait for them to get to work because you have raised beds to fill…

So the fantasy version of compost making with these dalek bins is that you put a nicely judged mixture of weeks, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps and additional *ahem* accelerator* in at the top, and then after some time you open the little hatch and scoop lovely crumbly compost out of the bottom:

compost and compost bin

Unfortunately because (a) the little hatch is useless and (b) the contents of the dalek are actually likely to be a mix of lovely crumbly compost, some minging slimy stuff you don’t really want to think about, weeds which are emphatically not dead yet, and clumps of vegetation which has managed to sit in the compost apparently unscathed for months, the reality is more like this:

overturned compost bin

The first picture is of compost that I had previously emptied out of a dalek (and then put back in without all the stuff I should have shredded first) a couple of months ago. The second picture is the dalek that we had been filling undisturbed for almost a year. So it seems that the secret to compost seems to be to periodically dump it out, turn it, and stick it back in the dalek until you need it. Think of it as an excellent upper-body workout. Or just buy another four daleks and wait.

I still have vague plans to set up a proper composting corner, which at least would make turning the compost easier even if we don’t have room for seven bays. But given my slow gardening progress, it’s likely that by the time that happens I will actually be in possession of seven compost daleks. And an enviably well-defined upper body … or a very bad back.

* If you want to see a discussion escalate quickly over something you thought was innocuous, and are bored about asking cyclist about helmets, it turns out that peeing on the compost heap is a gender issue, and not just because of the practicalities. Who knew?

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Pro-Cras-Tin-Ate

October 13, 2017

What’s that lumbering towards the wall?

dalek invasion

We appear to be having a dalek invasion.

compost daleks

Oh, okay, we have ordered a couple of new compost bins, hopefully more Tardis-like than Dalek-like, given that they are already dwarfed by the pile-o’-stuff waiting to go into them.

When we moved here, we (I) had big plans for a corner where we could do extensive and Proper Composting, and while those plans have been maturing* the pile of grass clippings, strimmings, weeds and other material which will ultimately feed this proper compost has steadily grown as the other half gets on with actual gardening as opposed to dreaming, talking and blogging about it. The original Dalek is full of kitchen and garden waste and although it never actually fills up, nor has it yet turned the bottom layer into compost. Meanwhile, I suspect that towards the bottom of the pile-o’-stuff some good organic matter might lurk but first I need somewhere to put the top of the pile.

Clearly, while a Proper Composting Solution is still ultimately the goal, we were in increasing need of a temporary solution. I’m always reluctant to bring new plastic into the world, but it turns out compost Daleks are generally made of recycled plastic, and besides there was a buy-one get-one-half-price offer on the go.

And obviously, just because we’ve tripled our emergency composting capacity, I won’t now relax and wait until Dalek No. 3 is bulging at the seams before starting work in the Proper Composting Solution. Of course not. What do you take me for?

* they have developed sliding-block-puzzle tendencies in the process, as first we need to check the septic tank is all in good order, then move the pile of woodchips that were left in the wrong place, dig out the very nice soil underneath the woodchips where the old compost heap clearly was and put it to good use, get hold of materials for composting bays, actually build the composting bays, get hold of some more manure, which involves sourcing a trailer that nobody minds us putting horse poo into, build a trellis to hide the composting bays, find something nice to grow on the trellis …


As Winter Approaches…

November 28, 2016

… the bones of the garden are beginning to emerge.

shed in summer

This was the old chicken shed in summer

shed before clearing

As the nettles died back, we’ve been able to hack our way through and start to remove the fencing around the old enclosure

shed after
The interior of the shed makes me feel a bit sad for the hens that used to live here, although it’s all good stuff for the fertility of the soil, ultimately.

shed interior

“You can be in charge of getting that spade out and cleaning it up”, says the other half generously

First, though, we have to work out where to put the compost bins and then we have to fill them. Oh, and find out exactly where our septic tank is and make sure it’s still working …

compost bins

I don’t think that little dalek is going to cut it

That may be a subject for a whole other post

 


Unintended Consequences

May 20, 2009

I was chatting with someone the other day about the joy of compost (I know, I know) and specifically the smug happiness you get when turning all your kitchen waste into something useful instead of landfill.

‘I’m not really all that into gardening,’ he said. ‘But I really do like putting stuff into the compost. In fact, I’ve started choosing my food on the basis of how much compostable waste it’s going to generate …’