Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Turning the compost

On Monday, I turned the compost again. Actually, I did more than that, I rebuilt the compost bins. I had originally made a compost bin using pallets strapped together, filled one with material and when that was full I made a second next to it and started to fill that one too. I rearranged the pallets to create one double size compost bin and this gave me the space to turn the compost pile. I used the metal pallets that can be seen at the rear of my new double size bin to make the front of this new larger one.
The compost is coming along nicely, it's getting darker and crumblier although there are still some materials that are in chunks and layers and are yet to rot down. I started this compost pile just over three months ago, so I am pleased with its progress. It was the first job that I did in the garden after we moved in. In this compost heap I've included
Wood shavings and hay from the stable
Fresh horse manure
Well rotted horse manure
Urine, just a little, as an activator
Autumn leaves
Partially rotted leaf mould
Turf lifted from the garden
Vegetable and fruit peelings excluding potato peelings
Tea bags and used kitchen paper towels
Wood ash from the wood burners
Washed, crushed egg shells (2 minutes in the microwave kills off bacteria)
Dried plant stems, including stinging nettles (no roots included)
Shredded paper (looks like I made the layers of this too thick, next time I'll do thinner layers)
Feathers from old feather pillows (also in too thick a layer)
Annual weeds
Grass cuttings
Green plant material from plants we have cut back
Torn up egg cartons
Poultry manure with wood shavings and straw from the chicken coops and duck house
Water, lots of water!
The chickens, Jack and Diesel were quick to lend a hand especially if that meant that they could root through the compost for a tasty morsels to eat. Whilst this was quite sweet to watch, Jack is a voracious worm hunter and I'm not too keen on losing all my composting worms to satiate her appetite.
Once I'd moved the pallets around and turned the first bin's contents, Mr J then scooped up the contents of this second, more recently created bin and added them on top of the first while mixed them into the old pile as best as I could. 
When we have located some more pallets, I will build another bin to hold the hay, straw and horse manure that I've mucked out of the stables. At the moment, the chickens are enjoying picking through it to find bugs and grubs, but they are making an incredible mess with it, scattering it all over the area and kicking it over the young hedge that is planted around the boundary fence.

I have also started collecting materials for a new compost heap on the other side of the paddock, which will be closer to the fruit and vegetable garden and I anticipate making a third composting station too. We are lucky to have access to plenty of horse manure, both the fresh and well-rotted variety and, because we have lots of trees on the smallholding, I will have lots of fallen leaves each year to make leaf mould with or to add to the compost bin. Cutting back the Leylandii hedge will give me extra shredded green material each year and as the year goes on, there will be plenty of green material from the vegetable garden. When Mr J mowed the front lawn last week, we gathered about 15 wheelbarrow loads of grass cuttings, so I imagine that we will also have a huge pile of that by the end of the year. And of course, there's a never ending supply of chicken and duck manure with the woodshavings and straw that go with it. All good stuff for making more compost with.

I am looking forward to using the first of our compost in our vegetable garden and fortunately, I think that I won't have to wait for very long.

 If you use other materials in your compost heap, please leave a comment and let me know what else I might be able to add to my compost heap. Thanks!


  1. Careful with those grass cuttings. If you use too much or just use them by themselves in a heap, they'll get pretty black and will really smell bad. Always need to mix brown and green materials! I once had to deconstruct an over grassed compost heap. Slimey and unpleasant job.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Yesterday we started adding straw & wood shavings with poultry manure to the grass clippings and mixing in well. Today will add wood ash & partially rotted stable manure & wood chippings. Still have some shredded paper to add too. It's all go here with the compost making!

  2. It's good to see that you got your compost heaps going straight away as you can never have too much 'black gold'. I grow a handful of comfrey plants which I leave to flower for the bees then cut back at ground level to add to my heap as an activator. I'm generally able to do that three times a year. Flighty xx

    1. Thank you for your feedback Flighty, the soil here is nowhere near as good as I had originally thought. We're going to have to buy in some local topsoil or I'll be trying to grow in sand and pebbles. So it's a little new topsoil and loads of compost needed. I've sown some comfrey seeds and plan to have a few plants along the side fence of the paddock (where the veg garden is being created). No sign of the seedlings yet - but it great to get the chance to build a garden from scratch.


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