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30/12/2012 at 23:54

HELP. I have made myself a compost heap (Just the one) out of an couple of old pallets which has a tarp over it which is weighted down so it doesn't blow away. I have the bottom full of leaves and the next layer is shredded paper. What else can I put in it and is there a rule of thumb of how much of what goes in? I used a lot of compost for my tubs and stuff but really want a go at making my own. Also, is it worth getting a wormery set up and how do I persuade the worms to come and live in wormtopia???

31/12/2012 at 06:39

We eat loads of veg, so every day we put a bowlful of potato/carrot/parsnip/celeriac type peelings on the compost heap, along with the outside cabbage/sprout/cauliflower leaves and stalks, apple cores, egg shells, onion skins, tea leaves and coffee grounds etc.  In the summer the grass clippings go on there (our grass is a bit sparse so the layer isn't very thick), and most weeks a friend gives me a bag of guineapig poo and bedding for my heap.  

I don't have a wormery as at the moment everything goes onto the compost heap so I don't seem to need one, but if I did I'd buy my first batch of worms from somewhere like http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/shop/section.html?-session=shopper:5216D0751e0e80FB98vjFF64FDA5#wormeries , after that they should breed and keep the numbers up. 

31/12/2012 at 09:17
Ah ok. So anything organic really then? Is there any benefit to a wormery then compared to a compost heap?
31/12/2012 at 12:12

I bought my worms from a fishing shop, it must be quite common because he offered them as soon as I walked in. The advantage of a wormery is that it is contained so you avoid the rat problem, mine is also on a path so I can still put stuff in on wet days.

31/12/2012 at 12:41

I've got several compost bins- darlek types mostly- & a wormery.

As Kate says the latter doesnt need to be directly in contact with the soil, so can be next to the back door. That way no need to go down the garden in wet/dark weather with the kitchen waste & cardboard inner from kitchen/toilet rolls & used kitchen towels- no chemicals though in my case.

I find the resulting wormery compost is really fine & should make excellent potting/sowing compost with minimal sieving,if any needed. I actually tend to add mine to one of my bins as an activator about 2x a yr.

Agree rats not a problem with wormery on legs. Ants can be a nuisance, but not as long as contents moist enough. J.

31/12/2012 at 13:49
Thanks guys. How quick can you make compost?
31/12/2012 at 15:10

Hello sam, a bit of help on composting mine takes about 6 months to a year in the black compost bins.

http://www.recyclenow.com/home_composting/making_compost/getting_right_mix.html

and what to put in

http://www.recyclenow.com/home_composting/making_compost/can_i_compost_it.html

I have a wormery which is not as easy as compost bin as mine gets a bit wet sometimes, but getting there with it with all the wormery mixes.

Sound as though your compost bin is starting well.

Hope this website helps

01/01/2013 at 10:04
Thanks hun. I will have a look and let you know how I get on.
01/01/2013 at 10:49

A plastic bucket with a lid outside the kitchen door will take all the vegetable waste and can be tipped into the main compost when full. I have two wooden compost bins one filling and one being used, in summer compost in six weeks to three months depends on the weather in winter six months. They are up against a wall sheltered from the winds and warm up quickly. I have never had a rat in there in years of composting so consider that an urban myth.
Wormeries to me are not worth the bother though people with less space than I have would find them useful. At times I have a full compost heap I use an old plastic bin to store the extra having drilled holes in the bottom for drainage and the side to let air in, that stands where it can get the sun most of the day and heats up nicely then I start my new heap with it.
Everything goes in the heaps and I try to turn it out into a barrow every few weeks then toss it back, this mixes it gets the air into it and it can be damped (not soaked) as you toss it back, nature does the rest.
For use it all goes through a large riddle with a medium mesh then for seedlings through the same riddle with a fine mesh added, that is then mixed with washed sand and fine grit for the seed mix, seeds do not need nutrient but prick out into a slight nutrient mix and then pot on to a good potting mix as they grow.
Hope this helps,

Frank

01/01/2013 at 11:13

Sam, I think you could speed things up by separating the leaves from the rest. Leaves (from trees) take, as far as I understand, longer to break down than mowings, kitchen stuff, etc. You could make a leaf 'bin' out of chicken netting and leave for a year or two, or a large plastic sack with lots of holes in it.

Palais glide, a friend of mine opened her dalek type bin in September and found a large rat looking up at her. I have not had that experience with my 2 dalek bins, but they are on very compacted ground. It is good, I think for the bins to be in contact with the earth rather than resting on paving stones, but you could put a couple of layers of chicken netting down to stop rats.

01/01/2013 at 11:19

Sam, look at the thread 'composting' with a very useful piece by charleyfarley(?)

01/01/2013 at 16:05

All I can say Artjak is my bins have been up and running in this garden for 28 years and never a sign of a rat and before that several gardens with never a sign of a rat.
My problem is the snails think it a five star hotel so I take a bucket of water and domestos to rid them of the idea, never fancied eating them.

Frank.

01/01/2013 at 16:30

Frank- you've been luckly re the rats then. Mind you I've not had signs of activity for about 3-4yrs. I regularly sweep up from the bird feeders & look out for any signs of holes being dug into bins/under the fencing.

We back onto non-maintained open ground & I know they're around there. We didnt have any problems until some drain bloke left a land drain cover off for several hours one day, several yrs ago, whilst trying to sort out a blockage further up the road. Ratty then found my food waste compost bin! J.

01/01/2013 at 16:47

If you have problems with rats in compost bins avoid putting potatoes or potato peelings in them - my potato farmer brother says "rats will gnaw through concrete to get at potatoes" 

01/01/2013 at 16:49

It also saves the odd potato plant appearing in the flower borders! J.

01/01/2013 at 21:44

Hmmm, OK guys. I have had a look at the link Gardengirl and have a better understanding now. I think I have too much brown in mine at the moment so will sort it tomorrow. Rats? Dont like the sound of them wee buggers in my heap  How do I know if I have them then???

01/01/2013 at 23:19

Rats would dig holes to go under compost so you would probably see holes going into the compost area. Sure they would rush away fast as would be scared.

You could have a small bin/ bucket that you put in veg scraps indoors or just outside your house - then you don't need to walk to the compost heap all the time when the bin/ bucket a bit fuller put in you compost heap. You don't put cooked food in normally but if you have a wormery you can - (strange)

02/01/2013 at 12:29

Jo, we had a huge midden behind the stables, you could open a hatch and throw the manure and straw straight into the midden, it also had the pig hen duck and goose cleanings plus garden waste, it was always steaming and did have the odd rat. When Dad told me to fill a barrow to spread on the garden from the composted end I would put my Terrier Peter in there first, he was a whiz at killing them so they did not hang around.
Just give them room to flee, if you corner them they will bite.
We would start the Hot Box every year from the hot end of the midden and bales of straw, we ate fresh veg from that hot box until the spring sowing was ready, two or three weeks later.

Frank.

02/01/2013 at 14:58

Palaisglide; I heard about the hot box system for the first time a few years ago, could you explain it to us?

02/01/2013 at 15:34

Artjak, my Fathers one interest apart from his business was gardening, he had grown up in that walled garden and smallholding which had to feed extended family in need well before my time, he knew every trick of the trade.
Each Autumn he would assemble wood panels as if for a raised bed in a sheltered spot next to a south facing wall so they got the most of any winter sun.
Next went in bales of straw, we had plenty from the farm and I do mean bales not a covering. On top of that went raw manure out of the midden a plentiful covering on top of the straw. More straw went on the manure a good covering then soil on top of that again a good covering and it was left to heat up naturally, if it was wet weather he had glazed panels to cover it. When it was up to heat Dad put boxes of seed on the soil and planted some straight into the pile, he would cover the pile at night and lift the glass during the day.
His motto was if you cannot eat or sell it then it is a waste of space, we had fresh spring cabbage beans and peas long before anyone else, he grew melons, marrows (we ate a lot of them) and some soft fruit, but he also brought on his Chrysathemum roots to take the cuttings, he loved them and showed them at the local shows.
When the pile had run its course we dismantled it and all the content went into the midden for next years compost.
Unless you had access to raw manure it was not viable so fell out of fashion as tractors do not produce the raw material.
I watched a program last night that said the calorific content of fruit and veg had fallen drastically as modern techniques put in the minimum feed needed to produce the crop. Us "auld lads" brought up in times of good gardening with "olde" fashioned ways of doing things have said that for years, nothing tastes as it once did.
In  these modern times I have a sand box in the greenhouse with heating wires in the sand and a thermostat, it does the same job only on a lesser scale. That apart from a frost guard fan heater is all the heat I use.

Frank.

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