A Composting We Shall Go

Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden

Recovering Plot 17
A Composting We Shall Go!

Diary 11th September – 06th October

11th September

First Stage was repairing and recovering the twin tunny box and the unattended compost which hadn’t been turned properly for a good year.

Each of these boxes when full holds one ton of mixture. So it was important to not waste the compost that was sitting within.

As l have written before, for me, composting is an integral part of any garden and more so here on the allotment, so having the ability to produce a lot of compost is especially important.

For the remainder of September, l concentrated on repairing the twin tunny compost unit, as l referred to them, which is two boxes each with the ability to hold one ton of compost material on each side. Although homemade, they are designed to the New Zealand composting boxes style, which l favour and use myself anyway, so I am all too familiar with their abilities for hot composting.

The box was badly broken in places, and the slats needed replacing; luckily, there was sufficient wood lying around as waste to repair the breaks.

Each box held roughly a half box of waste product and unturned horse manure, so it wasn’t hard to recover that mixture by turning it several times between the 9th of September to the 13th to refresh it, feed it, and cover it to utilise it for the oncoming winter season.

Once l had completely emptied one side, l could start a fresh compost heap with the wastes lying around the plot, intending to start the hot composting process in the first week of November. This would be a sufficient period to allow for all the waste materials from the allotment produced during the clearing to be added as well as adding garden and kitchen wastes from home.

The beauty of building the new pile inside this box system is that the heating process is already starting as you add more materials daily or weekly. The first few turns of the new heap will be the hardest in November, but it will begin to ease off by turn four.

The hot composting process l adopt is one turn every three days for twenty turns, followed by one turn every four days for five turns. All in all, you are looking at eighty days from green waste to brown gold ready for sieving and use on the soils.

The twin tunny will, therefore, once at total capacity and receiving wastes throughout the year, produce one ton of compost material every batch and just over four tons of growing medium a year. That’s a good return for a plot this size.

The fact that l will have, in addition to this, two tri-composting units with the ability to produce between them also a further two tons of brown gold again every eighty days means that plot 17 will be looking at an abundance of compost material every year which will aid not just the soil of the plot but also produce the bedding requirement for the worm farms.

The good news is that whilst l cannot sell brown gold compost to the public, l can legally sell black gold vermicast to buyers, produced by feeding the worms waste products and bedding them down on the brown gold compost. Therefore having a ready supply of worming bedding is an absolute must-have.

12th September

Once the Twin Tunny was repaired both at the top and the bottom l was able to turn the compost backwards and forwards for two days and this was sufficient to freshen and re-energise the content that was present. I also fed in layers of compost grounds to work as a heating agent.

Even with a small covering of weed matting would prove to be beneficial in keeping moistures from above out whilst allowing moistures from within to stay put.

The new composting area is considerably larger than the area l have allocated in Willow garden and to give an idea it measures around thirty feet long and about fifteen feet deep which is a large space and doesn’t take into consideration the vermiculture operation either.

In addition to the Twin Tunny there are also composting daleks as l call them – those strange cone shaped black bins which act as additional storage.

The area surrounding the composting zonewas filled with rubbish which needed to be sorted out and sifted through and disposed of.

13th September

A new compost heap was started using the wastes that were already lying around and in addition to everything that Suze and l were difgging up or weeding out. I am not bothered about adding weeds to a compost heap, the heat will kill it off. Although l was mindful to not add in any horsetail which can take a prolonged heat and drowning to eradicate properly. Each new layer created l added a layer of coffee grounds which acts as both a green feed and a heating agent.

18th September

The vermicast bin was relocated and built so as to accomodate the half ton of vermicast l have. Also a groundsheet was purchased alongside bungee cables to cover the Twin Tunny. To keep the rains and bad weather out and the moistures and heats within.

23rd September

After heavy winds l found that l needed to secure the cover more tightly so purchased eyelets and screwed them into the sides of the box and front and also more bungees that allowed for an easier access. The new compost heap was filling up rapidly but l knew from experience that it was a fair distance from full.

03rd – 06th October

I decided to not use the electric shredder for taking care of the hawthorn hedge trimmings. The shredder uses a lot of electric and might prove to be too expensive especially in today’s energy hikes if all the leaves were left on the six bags of branches l had. I estimated that with all the odd shaped branches and sticks and twigs there were it might take two plus hours to shred the lot.

Therefore l opted to handball the branches by deleafing them all by glove – running my gloved hand up and down the branches forcing the leaves to fall off – and cutting the twigs into more manageable sizes for the shredder to cope with over that of getting foliage caught up in the process. It took me three days or 12 hours to perform this task and loads of leaves went into the new compost pile!

I like tedium but this was quite possibly one of the most boring tasks l have had to deal with in the last couple or years, but at least now l have the option of deciding if l wish to shred the two bags left or take them to the tip direct.

If l shred them down then l can use the wood mulch in either the Willow garden or on the pathways on the allotment – but it will come down to a toss up as to whether it costs me more to shred or more to drive them over to the tip and the petrol cost.

I will see you again with another episode of Recovering Plot 17 tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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