by Jane Moore

We're having a grim January, with rain, rain and more rain and the plot is something of a quagmire.

CompostWe're having a grim January, with rain, rain and more rain and the plot is something of a quagmire. And what did I tell you about my plans to do masses of hard labour up on the plot? You might not be surprised to hear they've come to nought.

So this week I'm improving my soil with home-made compost. This seems a good use of my time as I can stop instantly and pack up as soon as a passing shower turns into steady rain (I'm not a wuss really - I get wet enough at work but I get paid for those soakings). Our compost isn't brilliant as it's still a bit new but some at the bottom is well rotted and OK to use.

My soil is quite sodden at the moment. It's not a good idea to work compost into the soil when it's in that condition, as it can destroy the soil structure. So instead, I'm settling for the simple job of spreading a good few dollops of compost onto the surface of my beds. I'll cover them with polythene to keep the nutrients in, warm the soil and get all those microbes and soil dwellers moving so they can incorporate the compost for me. It should be lovely by the spring.

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Gardeners' World Web User 21/01/2008 at 19:00

My husband insists in digging in teabags/old tomatoes/old cucumber into the soil. Is this doing any good to the soil?

Gardeners' World Web User 22/01/2008 at 23:59

I have a laurel hedge which generates a lot of leaf trimmings which I have shredded. Can I compost these or are they poisonous. I want to use the compost as a mulch for the rest of the garden. I have an acid soil. Can anyone help please?

Gardeners' World Web User 23/01/2008 at 15:18

Joy and Morning Glory: Any organic matter, that does not attract pests and make them dig it up, can be added. Harder pieces (prunings) take longer (years if the wood is over a centimetre thick). The rotting process depletes available Nitrogen until rotting is complete when the bacteria and fungi (the rotters) die and yield the Nitrogen back to the soil. Laurel is only temporarily poisonous. Dry, it is great for starting a bonfire due to the waxy leaves I think.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/01/2008 at 22:00

Thanks to Chris, carshalton for your tips on composting the laurel trimmings. I will compost it first before putting it on the flower beds. Mixing in grass cuttings etc should minimise any poisonous concentration with any luck.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2008 at 15:04

I've bought one of these small plastic compost bins. I have a very small garden - new to us - and just want to have some compost on hand to help lighten the soil. I've placed it in the corner of the garden and want to get started so that with luck by this time next year I should have some compost going! I'm saving kitchen waste - uncooked - in a plastic bag in the kitchen with a view to starting - help!!!

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