Compost Heap Design – Part 2
With all the care and effort we put into our outdoor dining tables (well, we have been selling garden furniture for nearly 20 years!), it isn’t surprising that we love everything about the garden and want our green space to be as productive and beautiful as possible. The key to this is the compost heap design – and here are some tips on what to put in it, now you’ve built it.
Worms – A Gardener’s Best Friend
The more worms – the more efficient your compost heap will be. They are the perfect waste disposal unit and can live happily all their lives in the moist atmosphere of a compost heap. They eat all the waste material and convert it into liquid feed and compost. If you need to import worms to kick start the heap (I don’t thanks the pony’s muck heap which is practically teeming with the little devils), you can buy them in. One great variety is the tiger worm (Eisenia fetida).
Get The Right Mix For Compost Heap Design
I think I’ve finally got this right –the basis of my compost heap design is all the pet litter and horse muck. The guinea pig and hen waste has the added bonus of including a good amount of newspaper, straw and sawdust which provides necessary fibre and gives the heap some structure to allow for air pockets in the mixture. Crushed eggshells are also good at providing minerals and fallen leaves are a fabulous addition. Grass cuttings and plant prunings break down quickly and provide moisture and nitrogen. There’s nothing like a fresh layer of grass clippings on a sunny day to get the whole thing steaming away.
Things To Avoid In Compost Heap Design
I don’t put food waste onto my heap in a vain attempt to discourage rats who love the warm heaps to nest in. The only way round this that I’ve found, is to call in the services of your local friendly rat man.
I also send my perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads off to the council via my green bin.
Balance The Compost Heap Design
The best way to get the mix right is to think of it as a balance between the ‘greens’ and the ‘browns’. If the heap is too wet, add more ‘browns’ too dry and chuck on some more leafy greens. Air is also really crucial so you may need to add scrunched up bits of cardboard, although I find the straw does a pretty good job of this.
Now this is the tricky thing – back breaking in truth if you have a really big heap. I try to fork it over each time I add in some pony manure which is probably every couple of weeks in summer.
A Little Help
There are things such as compost activators which will encourage the correct enzymes in your compost and can reduce the time it takes to turn your heap into compost by as much as half. You mix it with water and pour over the heap; it should be ready in 10 weeks. This stuff can also help revive a dead heap.
Is it ready yet?
You are looking for a crumbly, dark brown almost black soil-like matter. It should feel spongy to the touch. This nutrient rich material is wonderful mulch which will improve the texture of your soil and both suppress weed growth and retain moisture. What more could you ask for?