How not to make compost

2012_11250017

I posted earlier this week at the turn of the  year about my plans  for the garden for 2013 and how I wanted to be a better gardener.  An example of my rubbish horticultural practice is my compost bins.  The photo above was taken late November.  If you look through the bamboo on the left of the photograph you can see the top of the nearest bin.  By the beginning of this week the second bin, which sits alongside, was full to the same height and in danger of tipping over the fence into neighbour’s garden.   I think it is pretty fair to say they haven’t completely been emptied for probably two  years.  I went through a phase of taking garden rubbish to the allotment in order to build up compost there, which someone else is now benefitting from.  This was perfect excuse as it meant I could just turn a blind eye to the bins in the garden – but no longer

2013_01020016

If I was a good gardener I would have one bin for garden waste to rot down in while I filled the second and I have tried to do this but it only works if you empty the first bin out!

I realised four days ago that the situation couldn’t go on any longer and decided that I wasn’t allowed to do any more gardening until the compost bins had been sorted.  To access the first bin I had to drag the top pile of stuff off.  Some I managed to put on top of the  second bin and the rest had to be piled on the ground.  I was close to giving up at this point.  However, as a reward I discovered that once I reached the top of the wooden bin it was full of well-rotted compost.  I then spent a number of hours of the next 3 days shovelling it out and sieving it.  The sieved compost went on one of the borders as a mulch  and the woody stuff was put on the pile to go back in or used as a mulch under shrubs.

2013_01050013

Today my eldest long-suffering son offered to help as he knew my back was suffering and it was an awkward space to work in.  Having filled the emptied bin with the unrotted stuff and the top of the second bin we started emptying the second bin.  I decided not to sieve it as it wasn’t as full of woody stuff as the first and also I realised that the sieved compost I had used as a mulch had little structure and once it rained it would just  form a crust on the surface of the border.

Having his help made a huge difference as I had  got to the point of giving up.  The compost was amazingly good very broken down, sweet smell and full of bugs.  I used this bin’s worth to mulch the border where the pond had been.

2013_01050014

I lost count of the number of barrow loads of compost we had but  I reckon if I had bought the equivalent amount of green waste from the council I would have been looking at spending at least £30, if not more.

The area around the bins has been raked and tidied and I now have one almost empty bin to fill.  I have vowed that I shan’t let  this situation happen again and that I will empty the first bin as  soon as it looks ready and I will use  the two bins properly – honest.

Now there is just the third plastic bin by the garage to empty.