Today, I have reaped the reward of successful compost making by going to my trusted compost bin and using compost that was at least two years if not three years old. My daughter-in-law and I had collaborated in preparing our dahlia bed this year. I had weeded and cleared the ground a few days earlier, As soon as all the perennial weeds had been removed, the bed was dug over- I then added three large garden-tub loads of manure and raked it in. [Incidentally, the contrast between the fairly pale-looking soil and the dark, rich-looking compost could have been taken out of a text-book) My daughter-in-law then carefully planted her dahlia tubers, making sure that each one was protected by a plastic ‘slug’ collar which prevents the slugs from munching up the tasty green shoots and negating all one’s efforts. The rewards will come later on in the year, we trust!
Incidentally, there is a bit of an art as well as good science that lies behind good compost making. In order to provide the best environment in which the microbes can convert decaying vegetation into rich compost, you require a ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) of about 30:1 In practical terms, this means that there should be one part of ‘brown’ materials (dry leaves, cardboard, soil itself) to two parts of greens (recently pulled weeds, grass clippings), Too much green material and the compost heap will be slimy and may start to smell (solution: add more brown) and too little greens (solution: compost accelerator, human urine!) will make the compost heap slow to warm up. Finally, one needs a certain amount of water (judicious watering can every now and again) and aeration (turning it over with a fork occasionally). I attach some advice I found on a compost-making website, of which there are hundreds!
Principle #2: 2 Parts Green to 1 Part Brown
(The best strategy to mix your compostable materials)
Generally speaking, you can get C:N ratios of 30:1 to 50:1 by adding two parts of a GREEN material to one part of a BROWN material to your bin. A “part” can be defined as a certain quantity of the material, such as two 5-gallon buckets of GREEN and 1 packed bucket of BROWN.
All of this is not rocket science – but I include it as I think the principle of ‘browns to greens’ is not widely known and many people just throw garden weeds and clippings into their compost bin without much thought.
Being, Monday our local park was quite sparsely populated, but we did manage to meet one of our good friends, Julie, who is there almost every day (if we happen to coincide) We observed our local heron (he/she with a strangely deformed left foot that looks as though it is pointing the wrong way) being mobbed by a couple of black-headed gulls and even having to duck when one bold one made a kamikaze style bombing approach.
After lunch, whilst the dahlias were being planted, I made myself busy edging the border to our communal green area (technically it called a drainage field for the BiuoDisk but we have nicknamed it ‘Meg’s Meadow’) All of this frantic gardening is being done because of the fact that the rains are coming – certainly a smattering tomorrow and a really sustained downpour on Wednesday, according to the weather forecast. I have decided to name the lower part of the gully bordering our fence ‘Mog’s underpass’ (Mog is the name to which I answer in the Hart household – named after the Judith Kerr children’s author character as in ‘Meg and Mog’ but more likely because the initials spell out ‘Miserable Old Git’ ) That really is enough gardening chatter for several days (if not weeks) from now on!