Compost advice needed!

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Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 13th, 2017, 3:04 pm

Good afternoon all,

Our local council is running a reduced price scheme for compost bins and I shall shortly be the owner of one.... It comes with a guide and there is of course a wealth of information available on-line but I know that quite a few Wildies are avid gardeners and I'm really keen to get your advice on any tips or pointers. I have never had one before and look forward to all input, as does the compost bin I'm sure ;)

Looking forward to hearing your tips and thanks in advance.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby cooksalot » July 13th, 2017, 3:16 pm

I have two bins. That means a full one is rotting away and turning itself into compost (I usually leave them for a year) while the other one is being filled. I put all my veg waste, coffee grounds, mown grass and "small" garden waste into the compost bin. Produces good stuff!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 13th, 2017, 3:21 pm

Good to know. Thanks

I've also read tea bags are good... I was at one stage given vast amounts of tea bags of different sorts as presents (apparently as I'm English this would make me very happy.... but I rarely drink tea and if I do it's green) so I presume I can rip up the bags and use both the tea and bags? When you say "small" garden waste I've read conflicting advice about adding weeds. What do you classify the "small" as? Cuttings after pruning etc?
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 13th, 2017, 3:25 pm

All you ever needed to know (and more) about making compost http://www.gardenersworld.com/article-s ... ke-compost
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby StokeySue » July 13th, 2017, 3:29 pm

I used to use a two heap sytem
I've only put T bags in used, and whole, but I expect you can just wet them through and space them out through the compost, just don't put them in one heap
Weeds I always reckoned were OK as long as no sign of seeding, and perhaps avoid the worst of the tap roots such as big dandelions
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby scullion » July 13th, 2017, 3:44 pm

all kitchen waste including kitchen towels.
they say you shouldn't put cooked stuff in but i think that's more to do with any rat problems than the making of compost. depending on what type of compost bin it is, if you can rat proof it with a small holed wire mesh the better.
compost needs a percentage of carbon so cardboard mixed in with the grass cuttings is a necessity to stop it going sour. too many grass cuttings at once can leave a thick, soggy, fermenting mat that can't be broken down quickly enough.
get the men in your house to wee on top of the waste you put in it - it works as an activator - yours would work just as well but i don't think the neighbours (or you) would appreciate the view).
we tend to use worm bins nowadays and everything, other than woody material, goes in, including natural fibre cloth scraps, the dead offerings bought in by the cats and everything from the kitchen - if nature can break it down in the wild then as long as the balance of what goes in is ok then it'll get broken down.
remember to sieve it when the compost is finished there may be unbroken down lumps (orange peel and avocado stones and skin take a bit longer) and nearly all tea bags have a synthetic layer that remains - along with the odd teaspoon and kitchen knife that appears from time to time.

ps some weed seeds survive the heat of composting - and diseased plants shouldn't go in either because if the heap doesn't get hot enough to kill the pathogens you could spread the disease around with the compost.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 13th, 2017, 3:51 pm

I don't worry about putting cooked fruit and veg in ... but no meat scraps ... apart from attracting rats there's bio-security to think of ... don't want another swine fever or foot & mouth outbreak :cry:

And if you do think you may have a rat problem then don't put potatoes into your bin ... rats love potatoes more than life itself and they'll chew through concrete to get to them ... brother is a potato farmer; he could tell you some amazing stories about the exploits of rats :shock:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby smitch » July 13th, 2017, 3:52 pm

suffolk wrote:
And if you do think you may have a rat problem then don't put potatoes into your bin ... rats love potatoes more than life itself and they'll chew through concrete to get to them ... brother is a potato farmer; he could tell you some amazing stories about the exploits of rats :shock:


Ha, my girls love potato, but not as much as they adore peas. They treat peas like they are most amazing thing in the world :lol:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby scullion » July 13th, 2017, 3:53 pm

i never think about the meat scrap thing (other than cat-kill) cos of being a vegetarian!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Chinchilla_lady » July 13th, 2017, 3:57 pm

I crunch up egg shells in mine as well, but only a few at a time, if I have a huge baking session it makes to many shells at once, so they go in the bin. I shred all confidential waste too, that goes in with the grass clippings, and I only use small annual weeds. Nettles, dandelions and other large weeds go into the council bin.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 13th, 2017, 4:17 pm

This is great. Many thanks. I will fix a grate to make it rat proof - actually I think I can buy one to fit from the same place. No meat or fish is a given. I am going to be cutting down quite a lot of rosemary. I imagine I can use the leaves (but not the woody stems unless chopped?

Scully - my two sons are in Canada working for the next while but perhaps the neighbour's son will oblige.. :lol: I don't have grass cuttings as I have a large paved area with borders all around the outside but I can easily get hold of some. Have also read that nettles are an excellent source and with the heath not too far away I could always go and pick some. I also read that horse manure is a good mix..... The stables aren't far and people hack over the common.... perhaps I'll discretely follow with a pail and pan! Will remember to sieve and surely find something extra in the equation.

Suffs - Will have a good look at that link . Thanks. Not too worried about potatoes as I don't really eat them much.

Sue -This is what I mean about conflicting advice. I read on one site that as long as you don't put the roots in they are a good source of nutrients. Agree about the tea bags though. Chilled used teabags are meant to be good as eye pad fresheners so after a party I might use two and then compost them! ;)

Chinch - Yup - egg shells are being kept. I've read you should never put whole eggs, not sure I would anyway.

What about moss? My garden is a work in progress and one corner got very mossy on the stones. With the heat we have had here in London it is all dried out. Can I add that?

Many thanks for everybody's input so far.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Hope » July 13th, 2017, 6:17 pm

Composting is really quite simple, chuck in any plant-based matter that isn't cooked, leave until fully composted, use.

It does work better if you get a good mix of green/wet and brown/dry, so, for example, if you have a lot of grass clippings or kitchen waste, mix in some torn up newspaper, brown paper or brown card with it, If it's too wet, add more brown, if too dry, at more green.

Turning it occassionally is also helpful, speeds up the process, but it'll work fine without, it just takes longer.

I love composting. You could say I'm slightly obsessed!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby StokeySue » July 13th, 2017, 6:57 pm

Luca wrote:ue -This is what I mean about conflicting advice. I read on one site that as long as you don't put the roots in they are a good source of nutrients. Agree about the tea bags though. Chilled used teabags are meant to be good as eye pad fresheners so after a party I might use two and then compost them!

That's what I said I thought :? , though I'd personally be more worried about seeds which won't always rot than roots which usually will, and not everything can regenerate from bits of damaged root, though dandelion definitely can

In my youth most compost heaps were largely weeds, and we managed OK. My initial compost in my last garden was the weeds we cleared from the site, surely that's normal?

Sorry, but the idea that brown waste = carbon and green waste = nitrogen is hilarious, you need brown and green waste but that is not why. All cellulose is carbon (carbohydrate)! And most plant matter is cellulose. There's certainly a lower proportion of nitrogen in brown waste but equating them does not make sense biochemically.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 13th, 2017, 7:07 pm

scullion wrote:i never think about the meat scrap thing (other than cat-kill) cos of being a vegetarian!


That's what I reckoned :D
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 13th, 2017, 7:08 pm

I have no idea of the components and values of nitrogen Sue and didn't mention it. You did mention the root though, I missed that.

Hope - will try and make a mix but reckon I'll be throwing in the good stuff and mixing in green/brown where possible. I don't want to become too obsessed but do want to make better use of waste. The garden needs a whole host of nutrients and may as well make use of what I can. Thanks.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Hope » July 14th, 2017, 1:23 pm

Don't worry, mine is mostly just thrown in. It'll be ok. I only make sure I mix in grass cuttings, otherwise it goes all slimy.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 14th, 2017, 1:53 pm

Thanks Hope - I'm sure I can get hold of those from my neighbours.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby miss mouse » July 14th, 2017, 2:16 pm

I just chuck it all in without meat or fish stuff of course and leave it. Then I just pile it on bare bits of the garden and let the rain and worms do the work. Large tough cuttings will break down but take longer and can be tiresome in a small garden.

That rat guard sounds useful, would a piece of chicken wire resting underneath do it?
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 14th, 2017, 2:21 pm

I'm sure it would MM. I'm going to wait until they deliver it and see what I do, either chicken wire or get the base. The council will clear any tough cuttings or bigger bits of woody branches so I don't think I'll bother with them.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 14th, 2017, 2:40 pm

Rats will gnaw through chicken wire ... no probs. :rolleyes:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 14th, 2017, 2:48 pm

Yes - I guess they will. I haven't ever seen any rats around here but they say that you are never far from one so I think the proper guard might be the way to go in case.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 14th, 2017, 2:49 pm

They're there all right ... just hiding ... biding their time ... :lol:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby miss mouse » July 14th, 2017, 2:58 pm

suffolk wrote:Rats will gnaw through chicken wire ... no probs


Right, thanks, it is a job not needing to be done then.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 14th, 2017, 2:58 pm

Waiting for my potatoes! I think I'm going to have a much tidier garden than ever before as I won't be able to resist trimming things and chucking them in.

It has been a few years that I have wanted to re-jig the garden and it's a good incentive. I now have to decide what to plant along the long border. I need three good size bushes eventually.... preferably low maintenance and lots of colour. Also want to get some climbing roses for two spots on the wall at the end of the garden. Catherine and I are going to be going to a garden centre at some stage to have a look.

I think I may be developing a taste for gardening and it certainly gives you a good workout!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 14th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Before you go to the GC have a look here https://www.classicroses.co.uk/roses/cl ... roses.html

I'm not saying buy from them (although they are the absolute best - probably in the world - not kidding) but you'll get an idea of the wide range there is available and not just the few that every GC carries.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 14th, 2017, 3:21 pm

What a great site. I shall definitely explore it. I would prefer to get it right first time and the quality of the roses on that link seems to be exceptional. Always worth paying a little more and getting the goods! Thanks.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 14th, 2017, 3:34 pm

Peter Beales and his daughter both died in the past few years so the company is no longer in the family's hands, but their reputation appears undiminished ... I wouldn't buy roses from anyone else. And a visit to their gardens is a real treat :luv:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby PatsyMFagan » July 14th, 2017, 3:50 pm

Luca wrote: I haven't ever seen any rats around here but they say that you are never far from one so I think the proper guard might be the way to go in case.


suffolk wrote:They're there all right ... just hiding ... biding their time ...


I regularly get a rat in my garden .. I've mentioned it before and I blame it on my neighbour who throws bread out in the evening for the birds. She blames it on me having decking and a conservatory :( :shock: This morning a tree rat (and I don't mean a squirrel ! ) had climbed into my lilac tree and was helping himself to peanuts :aww: :rolleyes:

Meant to add that I had a very healthy compost heap until a rat decided to take up residence and ate all my worms and scared away (or ate) a young toad too :( :cry:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby suffolk » July 14th, 2017, 4:22 pm

Perhaps the toad decided to leave once the worms were no longer available for lunch ;)

Not many creatures will eat toads ... they pump their bodies up until they're quite huge and emit a foul tasting toxic slime if attacked.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby PatsyMFagan » July 14th, 2017, 7:45 pm

suffolk wrote:Perhaps the toad decided to leave once the worms were no longer available for lunch ;)

Not many creatures will eat toads ... they pump their bodies up until they're quite huge and emit a foul tasting toxic slime if attacked.


Yes, I think that was probably the reason it went missing the same time as the worms ! :(
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Badger's mate » July 15th, 2017, 9:37 am

Luca, I'm guessing your council bins are like our ones, plastic 'daleks' about waist high. I use four over the plot and one thing I notice is that they can dry out in warm weather so need watering, otherwise you just get a pile of straw. All the other tips pertain; try to put in a selection of material, mix well, shred the woody stuff and a bit of wee doesn't hurt.

We've got larger wooden bays in the garden which are rather more effective imho.

If you have got potentially regenerating perennial weeds such as the roots of dandelion or bindweed, or the rhizomes of couch grass, put them in a bucket of water to rot down. if you've got nettles or comfrey, make liquid feed by putting them into water & the bits of the perennials can go into the same bucket.

Incidentally, tea bags these days are reinforced with plastic - polypropylene I think - so you will get little puffs of what look like dried jellyfish in the compost after the tea and the paper have rotted down. They don't really show up until the compost is spread as a mulch and starts to dry out. At least, that's true of the teabags we use; Sainsbury red label/Co-op 99/Waitrose essential, which all seem very similar to me.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Badger's mate » July 15th, 2017, 9:39 am

Apologies to Scully - I hadn't noticed that you have already mentioned the tea bag residues. :tu:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Catherine » July 15th, 2017, 12:19 pm

Luca - Sarah and Jon have done their own compost and had great results putting it to use. We can look into it when I come, and I'll get some tips from Sarah. The kids really embraced it as Jacob is very environmentally aware.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 12:23 pm

Thanks Badger's mate. Very interesting. Liquid feed sounds good. Plenty of nettles up the road on the common.

Good thinking Catherine. You'll have to bring the boys over and Jacob can help!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Catherine » July 15th, 2017, 12:47 pm

Luca wrote:Good thinking Catherine. You'll have to bring the boys over and Jacob can help!


Good plan, they'd actually love to help with the gardening. Archie will supervise :lol:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Badger's mate » July 15th, 2017, 12:55 pm

I also put old cotton clothes or pillowcases in the garden heap. Mrs B likes to tell her mates that she finds the odd zip from my discarded cords or elastic from my drawers amongst the compost. :D
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Ratatouille » July 15th, 2017, 1:15 pm

Any vegetable matter the hens won't eat eg raw potato, avocado, carrot peelings etc as well as paper towels, newspaper then card, hair clippings,crushed egg shells the straw etc from the hens. All go into our bin. In this heat the biggest danger is it drying out but Mr R, on his late night/early morning plant waterings contributes generously.

Food scraps in the form of fish and meat go to the outside cats, never into the compost. Anything else not consumed by us gets gobbled up by the hens. WE throw out very little
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 1:16 pm

:lol: I am currently having a huge clean out of the house as my boomerang sons have now left home (again) and have found their student house sheets etc. Perhaps I should cut them into shreds and add some. I'm certainly never going to use them ! :?
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Catherine » July 15th, 2017, 1:19 pm

Luca wrote:and have found their student house sheets etc. Perhaps I should cut them into shreds and add some.


I think student sheets actually compost themselves :P
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 1:39 pm

They'll certainly help the process!
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 2:26 pm

Feathers from cushions and duvets can apparently be composted, and those are a source of available nitrogen, which supports the composting process as well as the lucky plants that get the final compost.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 2:56 pm

Oh excellent Sue! I have two feather duvets which quite frankly need to be destroyed. New ones will be bought for the 'spare' rooms! Thanks! Also pillows. Perhaps I should have got two bins! :lol:
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 2:57 pm

Yes don't overload with any one thing
Variety is definitely the watch word
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 3:00 pm

Noted! :D
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby liketocook » July 15th, 2017, 5:41 pm

I have seven 5ft high plastic daleks, one is full, another being filled and the others empty. The reason for so many is that apart from a bed at the front, my garden is all pots so I need to "compost" my compost each so it gets refreshed with nutrients. I do buy some new stuff each year too. They sit on concrete and so far I've never had any problem with rats in them despite living near a railway embankment which is full of them. During wet weather I take the lids off for a bit so they don't dry out.
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Re: Compost advice needed!

Postby Luca » July 15th, 2017, 6:09 pm

Good to know. Obviously rotation is the key and as I have the space I might have a smaller one for 'ready' compost and let the larger one take its time.
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