Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's a mucky business

I visited my compost bins for the first time this season today, and to my horror realised the one I'm filling is miles from the top, and I've already used up all the rotted stuff from last year. My third one is empty altogether, and growing a healthy crop of nettles through the bottom.

I'm not sure how I came to neglect my composting to quite this extent, as I'm usually an excessively enthusiastic composter - to the point of obsession. I suppose what with all this rain it hasn't exactly been conducive to barrowing muck around, so the best it's got is flinging the odd vegetable trimming over the side. Not really enough to sustain a composting system at full throttle.

No longer, though. We are lucky enough to be next to a stable at the allotment, but unlucky enough for it to be a stable which uses wood shavings, like most of the ones around here (I used to bed my horse on straw when I was a kid - whatever happened to make everyone change to shavings?) Wood shavings are fine in principle, but I find that when they're applied as a mulch they're far too acid - I've lost the crops through stem rots to prove it. Instead, I make sure it's been in the compost bin for a good six months, mixed in with lots of other things like grass clippings, veggie trimmings and annual weeds, before I use it.

So I went and fetched a big barrow of the stuff today and upended it into the compost bin. I'm about to open up a new bed on the allotment, which means taking off a good chunk of turf, so I'll pitch that onto the compost heap next, followed by another layer of muck. It won't take much of that before I'm back to full strength - but I won't get the benefit until autumn, so in the meantime I've got to think of another solution.

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