Category Archives: composting garden wste

Council compost bins

To encourage more home composting councils are offering discounted compost bins, you can check here to see if your council is part of the scheme. In Derbyshire we can get a 220-litre Blackwall compost convertor for £19 and the 330-litre size for £21 plus a delivery charge of £5.99. When you consider that our district council will be charging £50 a year for emptying the green bin it makes sense to start composting your garden waste.

I ordered the 330-litre bin which was delivered in a couple of days. I wanted to see how easy it was to use and how well it worked. The first fill was a mixture of grass cutting and shredded garden waste.

Measuring the temperature is a good was to check if the bin is working. A hole was drilled to allow the use of a standard compost thermometer. To reach and maintain 60c means that the bin is working well.

Day      Temp
1            23C
2            43C
3            61C
4            61C

If you want to know how to make hot compost go to this page.

We will be running a series of online composting workshops beginning in late September 2020
please email us for details

Compost bin water heater

Now this is an idea I really like especially as our local council say they are withdrawing green bins next year. Well, not actually taking them away but only emptying them if you pay.

From: Permaculture News, see link below

This is an ideal to make them into compost bins and get hot water. It’s not new idea but this looks interesting. I can see a row of them with isolating valves so that they can be switched on when hot and off as they cool down.

Not sure what the effect would be on the compost, first thoughts are that if you remove heat you slow down the process. I would guess that it depends on how much heat is taken.

It could be another crazy project for next year! Full text of the article is here. (You need to scroll down the page.)

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Compost bin modifications

The compost at the bottom of bin 2 has always been very wet. When it was emptied last week the reason became obvious, there was a very thin layer of soil on top of solid rock. It might be possible to break it up and remove it but instead a false floor was made. The holes in the bottom slot in board is a trial of controlling the air flow through the heap.

The timber false floor made from old pallets

The two layers of chicken wire was covered with a layer of dry twigs to prevent material falling through.

The bin was filled with a mixture of grass cuttings and shredded tree prunings. Within 24 hours the core temperature had risen to 55C and the next day was 73C which is too high. After making some air holes through the contents the temperature dropped to 69C and is still falling. The ideal is to hold it at around 65C for 3-4 days.

That is all four bins full and working which means we need extra composting space as there is already the start of a pile of general garden waste waiting for shredding. Happy days!

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More accidental composting

As I have said before composting happens when you least expect it. A few days back I recovered some bags of shredded tree prunings left by a contractor. There were piles of large chunks of wood and some of shredded leaves and small branches. The larger stuff was shredded again to reduce the size.

The thermometer is reading 59.8C

I was surprised by the stream coming off when the surface was disturbed, it has only been there for 3-4 days. Taking the temperature showed that the pile had heated up to 59.8C. My guess is that there was enough nitrogen (greens) from leaves and odd bits of grass the start things off.

The lawn was mowed today and the grass clippings ( greens or Nitrogen) mixed with the wood chips (browns or Carbon) to fill another bin which should get off to a good start.

That’s all four of our bins full which means we have made around four cubic metres of compost so far this year. We need to find space for two more bins!

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Large scale windrow composting

Watch the fascinating video from the US to see how commercial compost is made on a large scale. There are other methods especially for food waste where it happens ‘in vessel’ to ensure that all pathogens are killed and to reduce odours.

Compost locks up atmospheric carbon in soil. Healthy soils grow healthy food.

Just make compost to save the world

In metric measure that means every cubic metre of compost made sequesters 400kg of CO2. Think about that, just the simple task of composting kitchen and garden waste reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is from a Facebook post by A1 Organics who are based in Colorado. Check out International Compost Awareness Week for more information.

Compost makes soil that can be used to grow food at home which eliminates food miles further reducing your carbon footprint. There are lots more benefits, homegrown food picked as it is needed is more nutritious and gardening improves general health.

My final plea is to grow your food without chemical pesticides and fertilisers. If you make good compost you don’t need them.

Easy ways to make compost

Garden waste can be recycled at home with little effort. It’s great for the garden and so much better than burning it!

Here are a couple of general tips to help stuff to compost. First, chop it up using garden shears or run over it with a mower. Smaller pieces compost faster. Try to balance what goes onto your heap, e.g. add two buckets of green stuff – grass clippings and plants to one bucket of brown stuff – dry twigs, dead grass, shredded paper. If there’s too much grass it will go slimy and stink and take years to compost.

Things to avoid; don’t add weeds with seed heads or food waste as it will attract vermin or egg shells as they never compost or pet waste – health risk.

If you want help email us – compost@organicgarden.org.uk

Open Pile

Easy to make. Just put stuff in a pile, mix it up, water it a bit if it’s dry and leave it for a year. As an extra you can add a waterproof cover which will speed up the composting.

 

Straw bales

 A good way to contain a pile. Straw also makes an excellent insulator.

 

Wire & cardboard

A cheap and cheerful bin. Not easy to fill and empty. The cardboard will need replacing.

If you want help email us – compost@organicgarden.org.uk