A Tale of Three Compost Heaps

Well, compost heaps and bins, but not to worry.

Back in lockdown (which in some ways feels like a million years ago, and in some ways feels not to have ended at all) I made this blog available to my gardening students, to keep in touch with each other about how their gardens were doing. You can all still see the wonderful images that were sent in!

So, I’m trying that again, not because there’s a new lockdown, but because this term is going to be interrupted by many, many bank holidays. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but I think we’ll be lucky if we all turn up on the right day, in the right week, and in the same place. So keeping up with the blog might help.

So, since gardening always starts with the soil, and the soil always starts with copious applications of compost, this is a tale of three compost heaps/bins/whatever.

The image above is from one of my students, who is rightly proud of producing lovely crumbly compost from her bins. If I remember what she told me correctly (Sigh. Old age is no place for cissies, especially when it comes to remembering things.) then she reckons the process takes about 12 months after closing the lid on additions for the last time, despite what many pundits say about 3 months or 6 months. I’m with her. 12 months. You can’t hurry perfection, after all.

Her bins gobble up lots of things – twigs, ageing bits of plant, lawn clippings, fruit and vegetable bits and bobs – anything compostable Scrumptious!

The second compost bin has a different story to tell.

When this gardener got to her bin a week or two back, she found a case of breaking and entering – or gnawing and entering, to be precise. A rat had decided it needed new quarters, and had taken a rather large chunk out of the side. Ouch!

Being a feisty sort of gardener, there was no running and squeaking, except from the rat, maybe. Instead, the compost was emptied out, the bin mended and refilled, and back to doing its job of gently nurturing a new batch of compost. Well done, that gardener!

All suggestions gratefully received on keeping the rats out!

And here’s mine. On the left is some good compost hiding under the unrotted stuff. But the bin on the right, which holds last year’s compost, is still full of… last year’s compost. With the heatwave, and reservoirs down to 16%, and a hosepipe ban, watering the compost heap was not an option. The weather people say that this March has been the wettest since 1980-something. Not here, it hasn’t. There must have been an umbrella over my garden for most of the winter.

So, last year’s compost heap is currently going nowhere. And, my lawns were full of moss and thatch. They were scarified a few days ago. It’s clear that The Heap is not in a mood to accept anymore. The rest of the thatch from the front lawn is now sitting in those two daffodil yellow bulk bags, a cubic metre in each. I’m going to need a bigger boat compost heap.

Meantime, I’ll just have to squint at that patch of yellow down by the front hedge, and pretend they’re daffodils.

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