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in Problem solving
I have a rather nice composting area and need to get it organised.
Currently I have 2 bins and plan to expand this to 5 or 6.
The problem at the moment it they are in a shady spot and are pretty much cold. I know that sooner or rather later they will compost but i'm concerned that this 'cold' method will not kill off and weeds etc that have been added to the pile.
Any ideas on how to ensure that the resulting compost is clean to use?
i've added some photos of my compost area to help.
We have two compost bins (wooden) of a similar size, next to each other in a shady patch (west facing under some trees). We make good compost in them. It's the physical decomposition of the vegetable matter within the heap that builds up the heat - it doesn't come from outside.
Good composting practice, i.e. a balance of green and brown materials, a frrequent good poking about with a sturdy stick to ensure aeration, and turning the heap every so often, produces good compost within a reasonable time frame. I remove the roots of perennial weed and I try not to allow weeds to produce flowers/seeds. If they have I remove them too before composting the rest of the weed.
Oh, and don't forget the addition of an organic activator, such as recycled beer or cider as advocated by Bob Flowerdew, to get things going
Much the same as we have. We also have what we call the Non-compost heap. This is where we put all the things (except blighted spuds and toms) which cannot go on the heap proper. You know things like dandelion roots and dock roots and so on. THis heap is covered overed and so far has been untouched for three years. the last one was open up after 5 yeats and the stuff was lovely. Ok if you have the room to do that.
Much the same as above. I have three compost area's. 1st is a black darlek, it's in some shade by a fence but can get unbelievably hot. I've 3 boxes of leaf mould which usually rots down to 2 boxes, in some shade and a bin full of manure which is in full sun but takes the longest to rot down.
Mine don't generate much heat at this time of year but apart from the leaf mould are full of worms breaking the matter down.
As Dovefromabove say's it's getting the mix right and ensuring there's enough air in there.
I do wonder whether having 5 or 6 bins wil mean that you don't have sufficent volume in each one to keep the temperature up. Th heat builds up best in a big heap - if it's too shallow it won't get wam and rot down properly.
Stil, try it and see how you go. We started with a big compost heap of slatted wood, in two sections. Although we had loads of stuff in it the first year (shreddings from tree felling and massive garden clearing etc), after that the second section of the heap got a bit flat. So we divided the bin into four sections instead of two, using two for leaves and two for other compost. In late autumn (any day now) we put a bit of old carpet over this year's heap, to leave it for a year. We then unpack and distribute last year's heap, and use this bin to start over again. If the leaves need longer we just leave them for another season.
Ours gets plenty of sun, but the compost itself should generate the heat it needs. Using a dark coloured covering or lid should help. You'll know when it's ready, as it will look like compost, with few identifiable items in it. Mine always has some sticks and woody lumps that I have to remove as I go along (plus the occasional fork or a potato peeler!), but it's great stuff, and the leaf mould is superb if you leave it long enough.
Because we don't have a lot of space and we do get a lot of tree leaves to rake up in the autumn, we put the leaves into black bin bags and puncture them with holes and leave them over winter in a heap in a corner of the garden (makes a good shelter for woodmice in the winter )
Then, as we build our compost heaps in the summer, from time to time we add a layer of leaves, a bagful at a time - by ths stage they've started to decompose, but are still 'brown matter' - when alternated with lawn mowings it helps to stop the heap getting too green and the heap breaks down quite quickly.