Update on my compost making
Bit of a disaster here at compost-making smug-central.
I wrote in my last blog Making Compost – it’s so easy about how I just chuck everything in a big container and in time out comes lovely crumbly compost.
Oh no it doesn’t.
I have four compost containers. The two wooden beehives reliably make good compost if I put in a mixture of garden waste, food waste and cardboard. They are built for the purpose and do a good job.
My new Ciskotu Expandable Composter from Amazon seems to be doing OK and I’ll give it another 4 months before I dig down to see what’s going on at the bottom.
My fourth pile was in a huge green bag which I filled with the usual mix.
When I started to stir it around I found a slimy, twiggy, brown sludgy soup devoid of air and with hardly any worms.
Would it have made compost eventually?
It would have decomposed over time as everything does but in the short term it was sitting there like a bad-tempered casserole refusing to mix in nicely. Although I had made holes at the bottom of the bag, there clearly wasn’t enough drainage and not enough air circulating. Living organisms need air.
If a pile is too wet or too dry it doesn’t work to make compost. Not an exact science but it does need you to keep an eye on the heap.
Compost as a wildlife habitat
I emptied out the contents and stuffed it into jute bags meant for leaves. I’ve tucked the bags into a corner and over time everything will decompose even if I don’t use the result as compost.
The bags will be a lovely cosy habitat for all kinds of creatures vital to the life of a garden. I love to have messy patches and wild undisturbed corners even in a small town garden.
Composting waste from a coffee kiosk
My latest wheeze is collecting bags of used coffee grounds and squeezed half oranges from the coffee kiosk at the end of our road.
Time will tell is this has been a good idea or not.
Lastly I cringe at how bossy I was about adding all your package cardboard. I didn’t bother to tear mine up. It created a slimy layer like the sweaty processed cheese slice in a cheeseburger (yum) and there was far too much of it. I had a huge pile of muddy cardboard too dirty to recycle.
I tore it into small pieces and added it to all three bins. I’ll use it up over the winter bit by bit.
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Happy gardening now and into 2022.
12 comments on "Compost mistakes – it’s not so easy"
I am glad not to be the only one who has alot to learn about compost. Some of yours works really well….most of mine don’t but I think I just forget to turn and water and add.
Always good to hear that we are not the only one isn’t it? I do hope you have better luck with your compost making in 2022 because it really is quite a thrill when you get decent stuff out. Good luck, best wishes, Julie
I love how generous you are with the truth in your blog posts, it’s a breath of fresh air! Even if your compost isn’t 😄
My Great Aunt would always tell me how I should chuck everything on the pile, weeds and all, but I am a bit more selective. I treated myself to a beehive composter for my small town garden in Autumn 2020 and am interested to see how it’s got on. I hope I’ve been careful enough with my cardboard – I also chucked in some shredded paper/card/hay looking stuff from some candles I bought online that seemed quite obstinate when I last checked… who knows! Glad to hear your beehive composter has always been kind to you though!
Ah Thankyou Nikki for your encouragement. yes the wooden beehives are totally worth getting. They produce black gold at the bottom without me ever turning or mixing because I presume the warmth and moisture is just right through the wood. Sometimes I leave the lid open in the rain if it looks dry. I look forward to hearing how yours works and yes, I will be more careful now and keep an eye on the heap. Best wishes, Julie
Interesting and instructive self deprecating blog as always Julie. I love making compost, its so satisfying. I look forward to more blogs in 2022. Happy gardening
Oh Thankyou Kristina, interesting and instructive is just what I hope my blogs will be. I aim to do one a month. Happy gardening to you too , best wishes, Julie
I asked for a rotating composter two Christmases ago. When full it is so heavy that it takes two people to turn it.
Unfortunately I don’t have room for any other sort of compost bin. I once dug a large hole and when full of composting rubbish, topped it with soil and planted a plum tree. It did very well.
Wow that is such a good idea – put it all in a hole and plant something on top. I can imagine the roots going down and thinking ‘Oh wow look at all this wonderful nutritious food I’ve got”. I really love that idea and I could copy it on a much smaller scale. Thanks so much for your comment and best wishes, Julie
Here in the country we are lucky to have plenty of materials available, particularly leaves piled into large open slated potato crates from the farm next door, our 3 leaf mold containers are almost cooked, we have been very diligent in turning them and keeping them moist, also adding a thin layer of grass clipping here and there for added nutrition, very exciting. The mixed vegetable and paper compost crate taking much more time possibly because I didn’t break everything up enough before layering it, but will keep at it. Your blogs are always very informative Julie, please keep them coming in 2022 Hope to see everyone in the New Year hopefully at the Plant Fair on May 7th. Our good wishes from Yorkshire, keep safe everyone. JuneX
How lovely to hear from you June, and May 7th now in my diary, fingers crossed.Thanks for the encouragement. I suppose all heaps will slow down now it’s colder. Mine don’t seem to have much life that I can see – maybe further down inside where it’s warmer. I hope it isn’t too windy and cold up there for you and I look forward to seeing you both in May – not so long now……. best wishes, Julie
I never reported back on my beehive compost but was minded to after your hedgehog post today.
Beautiful compost! I did turn it occasionally but no special method other than that – you are right, the beehives are pretty dependable!
I mulched the beds with it in the spring and have little tomato plants cropping up everywhere which was unexpected. I thought it’d yield a ton of nasturtiums if anything, as I remember putting armfuls of the stuff in there in 2020 but none so far… Just tomatoes!
Oh so glad to hear that. It’s magic isn’t it. I get tomatoes and potatoes popping out too even tho I don’t grow them anywhere. Compost making really is easy isn’t it. Best wishes.