Next year’s successes start now

Whilst we are all, I trust enjoying this year’s harvest, it is also time to take steps for 2012.

Yes, a second crop is now in abundance, namely the major ingredient for our compost making, the plant waste, a prime source of humus.

How do you define humus? Let me quote the RHS who state – “Humus, a complex entity of the soil, originating from the decomposition of plant matter, the vital residue of plant growth, in short, the basis of soil fertility”.

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Soils rich in humus are friable, free draining yet moisture retentive and, more importantly, when we add fertilisers these feed out plants, not the soil.

Making compost is quite simple, cheap and so vital and should be ongoing. Major ingredients are (green materials), strawy manure, plant waste including thin, twiggy prunings, annual weeds but not pernicious types such as docks, nettles, dandelions, birdweed etc as sufficient heat is not normally generated to destroy these. To the above should be added a percentage of brown materials, crumpled newspapers, cardboard corrugated type is ideal.

Grass mowings should be added but mix them well with the bulkier material and not the first two mowings after using a lawn weed killer.

Compost can be made in many places, open ground in enclosed pens, bins, boxes, rotary drums, it all depends on space available. Always aim for 2 units, one you are making, one you are using.

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How long does it take? Anything from 3 months upwards. Time of year, material used, rotary drums work faster than open pens.

Adding an activator certainly helps and several are available but consider using sulphate of ammonia. A dusting of this every 6in layer works wonders,

Turning your heaps every month or so speeds up the process but can be quite strenuous but good exercise.

Rotary drums are very effective if funds allow.

Even the smallest garden can, and should produce compost, even an old dustbin behind your garden/shed can be pressed into use, just make a few holes in base and side, stand on bricks and hey presto – a miniature compost factory.

So, come and join the compost brigade – you know it makes sense.