"Journey to my compost bays"

Blog and video!
Sunday, 03 May 2020     

International Compost Awareness Week runs from 3 to 9 May this year. Started in Canada in 1995, this is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. This year's theme is Soil Loves Compost. The aim of the week is to raise awareness that the use of compost can improve or maintain high-quality soil, grow healthy plants, reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides, improve water quality, and protect the environment through storing carbon as a significant effort for climate change mitigation. The main message is that all soils can be improved with the addition of compost!

My new compost bays

I have always been a devotee of compost as I was basically brought up on the stuff (metaphorically speaking!) by two fanatical composters: my parents. Each had their own methods of composting, which they swore by, and I in turn have developed my own approach over the years. My current systems comprise firstly a set of three large, wooden bays where all the woody prunings and large leaves from the garden are processed, using a petrol-driven mulcher. The material is mixed with the occasional bag of cow manure and turned every so often with a compost aerator. The resulting material is used in the garden when still rather coarse, as a surface mulch. Secondly, I have another set of two smaller bays in my top garden (which I forget to mention in the video!), which are used just for lawn clippings, soft materials from trimming and deadheading, and small leaves, which are just piled up and turned with a composting aerator every so often, as with the larger compost system in the back garden. The material is allowed to decompose for longer and is the compost I use to dig in when planting something new.

Finally, kitchen scraps go into one of several enclosed compost tumbler drums, along with shredded paper to balance out the wetness of the scraps. (I used to use compost domes for this material but they were invaded by rats!) I've found that the product of these drums is still rather squelchy even with the addition of the paper, and so is hard to use directly in the garden, so I now place this stuff in my worm farm for the worms to transform into fine vermicast. They love it! I dilute the vermicast in water and apply it as a fertiliser to vegetables, annuals and perennials. It can also be used as an additive when preparing potting mixture, or dug into the soil.

Today's video visits the first system: the large wooden bays at the bottom of my garden. These were actually built for me as a birthday present a few years ago. Needless to say, I was thrilled, because the previous 'system' was just a collection of random piles of 'stuff'. On the way to the compost bays, we will briefly visit a few more shade-loving plants that grow nearby, including the lemon form of Ruellia brevifolia, coleus, Aspidistra, Plectranthus barbatus, Plectranthus argentatus, Ruscus, Arthropdium, Strobilanthes gossypina, Justicia adhatoda (where I struggle to pronounce the name!) and Helleborus argutifolius. This is quite a dry shade area though it is now being irrigated by our grey-water system, which might be glimpsed as a purple pipe during the video. However, all these plants have survived well in this dry area for some years.

 Reader Comments

1/6  Pamela - 2158 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 04 May 2020

Deirdre I am really really enjoying all of these videos, please keep them coming as it is just so interesting seeing the different plants and also hearing their names correctly pronounced.I still havent finished my compost bays at the top of my shed. I just never seem to get the time to do all the things I want to do. I need to buy a mulcher so thank you for this video, youve inspired me! The difference this makes to our gardens is incredible I know!! Thanks Pamela. We started with a tiny electric shredder but the one we have now is a large, petrol-driven one. We have a lot of woody prunings and deciduous leaves and it makes short work of them all. Deirdre

2/6  Patricia - 2100 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 04 May 2020

Best start to the day...this is the only reality viewing that is of benefit to humanity. Thanks so much for sharing the joy.

3/6  Jill - 2025 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 04 May 2020

Thanks a bunch Deirdre, am vitally interested in how others manage their composting! What do you do with your weeds? I wasn"t sure about that. And does it take forever to put the clippings through the mulcher? All my weeds go into our council green waste bins (we have two!), With the big petrol-driven mulcher it doesn"t take too long to shred the material. We make a pile in the first bay till there is enough for a mulching session! Deirdre

4/6  Lindy - 2158 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 04 May 2020

Again thank you for going to the trouble to continue with the info and the videos. It gives me so much pleasure seeing what youre doing. This gardening thing is sooo addictive and good for the soul.

5/6  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 05 May 2020

Thank you for your very informative blog on composting. Interesting you have different bays for different materials. You have encouraged me to save more materials for composting. Currently, because of space limits, I have two large black plastic tubs which I use, successfully. Initially rats ate through the single plastic tubs, so I now use two together, which has remedied the problem. Admired your Ruellia brevifolia with the lemon/yellow leaves. This combination is valuable in the garden. Thanks, Margaret. Yes the rats ate through the domes I had and also my worm farm at one stage! That is why I don"t put food scraps into the worm farm now and just give them the contents of the tumblers once these are decomposed a fair bit. They love this stuff! Deirdre

6/6  Linda - 2318 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 12 May 2020

I"m loving the videos of your garden Deirdre!!! Thank you so much for sharing them. So many lovely plants and many I recognise from my own garden. Plus many I now want to get my hands on. That black bergonia is absolutely stunning! I would to see the same videos during the different seasons. Please keep them coming.

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