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Best plant material and methods for composting?

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  • Best plant material and methods for composting?

    My compost making the last few years has been pathetic and I really need to up my game. I'm looking at different methods that would give a combination of fast track method as well as the more traditional. Ideas and inspiration are most welcome!

    Tying in with that, I'm currently thinking about bulking plants to increase compost content. Yacon, comfrey, J.articoke, corn, spring to mind. Loads of grass clippings in summer, though we try and use those for mulching. What else should I be thinking of?

    Plus really I need to re-do my composting area as my bins (mostly pallets and other wood) are starting to fall apart and are at the end of their usefulness. It seems the obvious time to redesign and rebuild. I have a couple of plastic jobbies too that I haven't really been using lately.

  • #2
    Extra paper shredded or torn and torn cardboard and a lot of it in layers, in addition to what you have planned. Speed at this time of the year is not possible. You need heat for speed. The best way to create this heat is a good mix of greens and browns, water and cover. Pallets with big gaps are more able to cool compost which works slower.
    Last edited by Galina; 05-02-2020, 14:16.


    • #3
      What method are you working on? Hot composting - cold composting - vermicomposting - something else?


      • #4
        Thanks Galina. I'd forgotten cardboard, I've some stockpiled for ground covering, but the smaller stuff will be ideal. Although I'm saying fast-track I'm really looking at a plan for the year ahead and beyond. Good point about air gaps and covering. I think solid sides will be good.

        What method are you working on? Hot composting - cold composting - vermicomposting - something else?
        My normal composting ways are to just fill a compost bin and leave it until usable. Which works well enough but not very productive.

        For one I'm thinking I might have a go with hot composting, initially in the large poly-tunnel with either a bulk base of wood chip or straw. Whether this will 'cook' quickly enough I'm not sure.

        Also as my composting site is going to relocate, (it's got rather overgrown and shadowed by some trees growing up) I'm looking at ideas of how to best set up a new composting area, as it impacts so much on the success of the garden. I want to plan a bit better than I did previously. I'm looking to turn some areas of the veggie garden over to no-dig, but to so so I need to produce larger quantities of compost than I have, hence looking at bulk producing plants. I'm loving Charles Dowding's set-up, but a bit outside my league, I'm not very handy at building things.

        I did think about a wormery before but I just didn't feel it was for me. Similarly, some methods of hot composting when using all household food scraps, though I've been wondering about this again.


        • #5
          My own view, for what it’s worth, is that getting roughly the right balance of green sappy stuff/ kitchen remains and woody stuff including paper and cardboard is almost all that matters. Trying to get compost to go quickly, for me, isn’t compatible with producing it on a fairly large scale as it’s too labour intensive. So I’m happy to wait for it to be ready. In late autumn the bottom half of each bin is usually ready and that’s the time I normally spread compost in a rough approximation to Dowding’s no dig method.

          I have a son with a small London garden who micro-manages his compost in a hot bin. This works on a small scale but is very different from my chucking it in and waiting approach.

          Sorry, this isn’t helpful at all. I suppose I’m just defending your current practice, jayb, as it’s much the same as mine (!) and even though slow, It seems to me to be quite productive. For bulk and woody material, the clearing out of the chicken house is helpful of course. But for me, the main problem is weed seed in compost. I often get a flush of probably inedible micro-greens after laying. I realise hotter composting would help with that.


          • #6
            One method of composting that can be done right now, is making trenches, Then filling with raw compost and topping with the turned over soil. This is good for beans and cucurbits and does not need ready made compost. By the time the roots reach into the fresh compost, substantial worm activity and decomposition has already taken place. Mulching on top as required means less watering and with a top mulch extra nutrients can also be added.
            Last edited by Galina; 07-02-2020, 10:31.


            • #7
              No, thank you, it's all helpful, getting different angles and thoughts or saying what should be in plain sight, are just what I need.

              Good points again with trenches, I've been doing some in the poly-tunnel for some early runners, which is handy as I don't have anywhere for household peelings at the mo. It needs burying as Saffie is a terror for going through it if left uncovered.