One of the benefits of owning your own place is that you have control of your garden (if you have a garden). One of the drawbacks of … well, you can fill that in yourself 🙂

Yesterday, after getting in from a small tour of Devon (family gathering, 13 of us at a pub in Bratton Clovelly – good food!) that started on Friday, I decided to tackle the compost bin in my garden. The quality of compost coming out the bottom was utter garbage (literally it turns out), and I wanted to restart it / fix it. Step 1 was to start emptying the bin into various containers so I could decide what to keep and what to throw. In the top 6 inches of the bin, I found 5 worms, a few bits of decaying material, a large amount of dry grass and clippings, and various bits of plastic. Plastic. In a compost bin. I have to wonder whether the previous owner thought that plastic would be decomposed in a compost bin.

After getting a large chunk of dry material out of the bin, I finally started to reach your actual dirt. It wasn’t as bad as builders muck, but it was fairly close. More bits of plastic, material that wasn’t decomposed, and a large number of ants. Now, ants don’t like the wet (normal compost bin), they like the dry (non-functional compost bin). Don’t know where the ants went in the end – I think they survived.

At the other end of the garden is (was) a water feature that seemed to be comprised of a white farm sink, a pump of some sorts, several rocks in the sink and a lot of decomposing leaves in water. I decided to move the compost bin to here instead, up against the back fence. This means I can redo where the compost bin was when I get around to re-pathing and altering the layout of the garden. There were a suprising number of worms around the sink, so the bin should compost quite well. 30 minutes of grunting and heaving and digging later, I had the sink out of the ground, and started backfilling the hole with some of the better garbage from the original location of the bin, and with the material from around the sides of the sink. An oil container full of worms later (just a 4 litre one – courtesy of my grandfather who has a wormery), some gentle forking over to mix the soils together and I could put the bin on top.

I’ve added some grass (not much), clippings from the hedge, some comfrey (also from my grandfather) and some dirt to the bin. Sometime this week I’ll add some newspaper and more grass clippings, and perhaps some compost kickstart. It’s tempting to get a mulcher/chipper to make the clippings etc even smaller, but the cheapest I can find is 50 quid, and thats a 1.5 – 2 weeks of food. Definitely not in the budget when I need to save enough to redo the boiler and radiators. It’ll take 6 months to a year for the bin to turn out good compost, but I’ve got time. I’ve got plenty of landscaping and other work to do in the garden anyway, so waiting for compost won’t be a major issue.

Adventures in the garden
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