Out of the decay

I’ve not had time to move the compost bin before today – or maybe I’ve just been procrastinating. And I can see why. Or rather I could smell why!

I’ve not had a smelly compost bin before now, unless my olefactory nerves have simply improved. However, I’m hoping that there will be less of the anaerobic activity now that the material within has been turned.

As I was moving the contents from one part of the garden to the next, I started to wonder if I could give up making compost in this sense. It’s a lot of work and for what gain?

I don’t want to mulch, as I’m not keen on more anaerobic activity. That said, if I just leave branches and leaves to rot in situ am I not creating an anaerobic environment on top of the soil anyway? Besides, out the front, I’m not sure I’m keen on too much rotting going on.

Well, the jury’s out for the time being. The blackbirds have been having such fun picking through and turning over the remnants of the compost this afternoon and I do have about 50 litres of it in the finishing off bin, which I will do something with.

Aside from ruminations about compost, I was charmed to see the anemones in flower. I can’t even remember if there were any last year. Whether or not they will stay in the back garden or be moved to the front of the house, I don’t know. Right now, I’m glad to have a bit of colour appearing by the apple tree.


About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Permaculture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Out of the decay

  1. mortaltree says:

    Personally I don’t like using kitchen scraps for mulch. It doesn’t block weeds well so I just use them for compost. I need something for potting up young plants anyway. Kitchen scraps are also very nutrient and nitrogen rich, which might be the cause of the stench. Do you add anything specifically carbon-rich to balance it out? It might be worth a try to add add some straw or even some soil to your compost and see what that does. There is a biodynamic bacterial inoculant developed by Ehrenheid Pffeifer I have used and found wonderfully effective. It was actually developed for handling municipal wastes in California and had wonderful effects there.

    • Helen says:

      I put kitchen scraps in my bokashi bin – the compost bin is for garden waste and the carbon I use to balance it out is cardboard and waste paper. I also added seaweed which hasn’t decomposed and was quite slimy, so that might be the culprit. Normally, also, I turn the bin more frequently but this bin is more difficult to empty/lift than the last one. And I have to lift it to get the compost out at the back.

      Anyway, I do realise that I need compost for seeds and young plants – and am trying to eliminate shop-bought. So, making compost is realistically something I do want to continue. I think it is more a case of rethinking the vessel it sits in…..

  2. Hi Helen, I’ve heard that anaerobic compost needs to be left for a year, after that, it’s fine to put on the soil. I know it’s quite different to aerobic compost, but the final result is the same. If you’re after being able to make a very fast compost, the Berkeley compost is wonderful…

    • Helen says:

      I’m not particularly bothered about making fast compost but out of interest what is ‘Berkeley compost’?

      Interested also in your comment about anaerobic compost and mulching. I read on another blog about the potential for anaerobic activity with any mulch, I think.

      However, my main concern with mulching is the seeds in the compost. I used to make it without them but something happened last year and I ended up with a garden full of stuff I didn’t want (where it was growing). Plus, I’ve not had enough of my own, but that’s another story 😉.

  3. Berkeley compost is made with fresh, rather than rotted manure. Layers of straw, manure, and green stuff heats up (and it really does get hot) making the breakdown process much faster. We tried it (I did a post on it) and it really is wonderful.
    What do you usually use for mulching? Straw, for example, bark chips, leaves, or grass clippings, won’t go anaerobic. We usually use straw, as it’s the best here for keeping the hot sun off the soil…

    • Helen says:

      I don’t use rotted manure (or any other manure) in my compost heap. I’ve decided not to use manure in my garden for a variety of reasons.

      Anyway, I was mulching with my compost but as said that had unintended consequences last year. I did also try mulching with the stems and leaves of green manure – not sure if that helped conserve water, as they dried out and were more like twigs round the plants.

      Straw would be a good bet, as my back garden bakes in summer but I don’t have access to a plentiful supply and am reluctant to buy (from sources which underpin values I don’t espouse).

      There seems to be some mixed press about bark – have toyed with the idea, especially for the front garden, as it would be decorative as well. There are sources for this which I feel I could use – it’s a question of whether the bark depletes nitrogen from the soil.

      Grass would be different again, as it is so full of nitrogen. However, I don’t have any grass on my property…..

      I have found that cardboard is great for conditioning the soil as well as green manure (cut down with roots left in situ). So, I use a mixture of those methods when the soil is going to be bare for a while. For the rest, I am slowly developing a perennial garden, where mulching should be less of an issue?

      Anyway, thanks for the answer to my question about the Berkeley method of making compost. If it heats up so much, it must be a big pile of material? My bin does get hot in summer, especially if I put bokashi mix in.

      • Hi Helen.Yes,you’re right, we had forgotten that wood chips leach nitrogen. The best bet would be cardboard then, I think, or leaves. Yes, a perennial garden should need less mulch. Our Berkeley compost pile wasn’t huge, doesn’t take much to heat up!

  4. Kalamain says:

    Have you considered looking at a rotundal composter?

    Like that…
    It removes the need to move it from site to site… It just turns. The big issue though is that worms won’t make their own way in.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s