The allotment gets a serious compost bin for some serious composting business.
As I’m always reminding readers of this blog, the best sort of garden or allotment is the one that operates in a circle, feeding itself with its leftovers and producing its own fertilisers. That’s why I rely so much on comfrey tea to feed my plants, and why I like to invest in composting. Now that we’re settled at the allotment, we’ve put a proper compost bin in rather than the turf mounds that have been sitting like sentinels at either end of the plot. We’ve been using the loam from the centre of these mounds for a lasagne bed and for top-dressing some of the other beds, too.
Our compost bin is from Shedstore. We made our last one ourselves from crates, but as Shedstore offered it, and as we’re about ten times busier now than we were when we hammered all those bits of wood from a DIY store together back in 2008, we were pretty grateful for the opportunity. It’s a lovely, robust set of treated wood which is guaranteed to last 15 years without rotting, which sounds like a lot of compost.
Setting the heap up required a bit of drilling and some screwdriver action, but the wood is pretty soft, which was a relief. The great thing about it is that the uprights are driven about a foot into the ground, which makes it lovely and stable. One side is left so you can pull the planks out for when you are turning the heap or digging out the good compost.
This sort of compost bin is perfect as it is big enough to get really warm in the centre, which means the contents will rot quicker. You can get compost from a hot pile compost heap in about four months in the summer months, provided you throw in the right mix of ingredients (on which more here).
At the moment we’ve got a reasonably good balance: the leftover sods from the turf piles which still have grass growing on them, prunings from raspberry canes, chicken manure from a friend’s hen house, spent coffee grounds and kitchen waste. When I add the kitchen waste (not meat in this instance: that has to go in a Bokashi system before it’s ready for the plot), I’ve been sprinkling in some seaweed meal too, to add trace elements and encourage the rotting process, as well as putting off any determined vermin with its lovely seaweedy scent.
I’m covering it with a couple of layers of cardboard at the moment, but once we’ve filled it with a consignment of horse manure, it’ll get a tarpaulin on top, pulled off once a fortnight for a good vigorous turning session.
We were given this compost bin to review for free, but in this case we’d buy it ourselves anyway, which is the F&F test. You can have a look at it here.