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  • Compost, you wouldn't believe how simple it can be or how complex it can be. There are numerous books devoted to the subject, even most books about growing veg will have a chapter on the subject. Nearly everyone on youtube who dedicate their channel to growing will mention compost or even have a full video about the dark arts of composting.


    So what do you put on your compost?


    Well personally I follow a recipe or should it be concoction who knows, anyway I got my recipe from Mick Poultney my compost guru, yes I have a compost guru :o although I don't follow his recipe to the letter as I like to be organic and free as can be because I'm cheap, although I like to call it recycling the in thing at the moment I believe. I want to be cost free on my allotments in a year or two so that's why I omit a couple of things that Mick adds. Well this is the concoction I use, the ammounts at the side can be anything it depends what scale your making your compost, I personally use an old flowerpot less the holes which holds around 2 pints.


    Spent Hops x 2
    Wormcast x 1
    Mole Hill Soil x 1
    Spent Peat x 1
    Horse Manure x 1
    Pigeon Manure x 1
    Leaf Mould x 1
    Seaweed x 1


    Now all of the above can be found for free or pennies at most.


    Spent Hops.


    Just put into google brewery + your postcode and you'll get the breweries near you, I was actually surprised one was 1/2 mile away, sadly when I contacted them a farmer had beat me to it. I did however find one 10 minutes away who when I emailed them said "there round the back take as much as you like", on going they even knocked % of some beer I purchased, they think I'm doing them a favour taking the hops away :D


    Wormcast.


    Now you may have to buy this but if you make your own wormery you'll end up getting it for free in no time at all, plus you'll have some pets :p also the worms reproduce so you'll be able to expand your wormery to wormeries or barter/sell the worms. I go fishing but would never use my wormery worms or sell them to any fishermen, just doesn't seem right.


    Spent Peat.


    I don't buy peat on a moral ground but we all know people who use grow bags and just throw them away when they've finished growing in them grab them before they do.


    Horse Manure.


    Same as the spent hops but this time put in stables and your postcode, now some will charge but where I go they ask for a small donation. To be honest I'm happy to give them money, I don't have any notion to ride horses nor do I like watching horse riding or jumping etc I just love the beauty of horses, so going for the manure is a treat for me.


    Pigeon Manure.


    I get this free, not so sure if it's lucky or not but the next plot holder keeps pigeons so I get as much manure as I want. However it means I have to net everything else they'd destroy my plot. You could also use chicken or other bird manure just up to you and what you can lay your hands on.


    Leaf Mould.


    If you can't get leaves for free you must live in a concrete jungle, you may even get them with all the hard work done just look for people raking leaves up and ask them if you can have them. Depending on the ammount I get I either put them in bin bags and forget about them for awhile (the norm) or if I'm low on leaves i'll shred them and put them straight in the mix.


    Seaweed.


    I'm lucky enough to know someone who goes sea fishing so they bring me plenty back that they find on the rocks, tangled on their line etc. When I get it I dry it then grind it up in an old food mixer which comes in handy for a few things. If you can't get seaweed you could use tablets crushed up.


    You may have noticed I don't put plant material in as I give that to the worms or put it in a trench for later, also I give some to the pigeon man and others so don't usuallly have any for the compost.


    So what do you do with your mix? I put it all in a heavy duty plastic bag I got from work then shake it about to mix it, I then put about 2 inches in depth in the compost bin put couple handfulls of shredded newspaper on it then sprinkle some nettle tea on to moisten it then repeat till the bin is full. I have some old carpet that I put on to keep it moist and warm.


    Things I don't put on the compost.


    Apart from this compost I also have a compost heap that I throw grass cuttings, stalks from beans (not the roots as I leave them in the ground for nitrogen), tomatoes etc. The above compost mix matures pretty quick thats why the rest goes on what I call the slow compost heap. So back on track, I don't put any meat products be they cooked or uncooked (rats) although I do know some who put fish skeletons on their compost. I also don't put onions, garlic or citrus cuttings, peelings etc on as I find the worms don't like them and the best thing you can do with compost is attract worms. Oh and cooked veg as in my opinion it also attracts rats as with the meat.


    There are other things I'd like to mention compost wise but I may have bored you already so will leave those till later.

  • Interesting post, Clayman. We do two sorts of compost: worm compost is the O/H's speciality, we get some really good stuff to add to potting composts from that, plus if there's any left over it is used to help revitalise any particularly poor patches. The other sort of compost is made in bins, each one about 1M x1M, and at least that high. Pretty well everything in the way of organic waste goes in, except food waste - we don't do food waste, we clean up every plate - and it's best well mixed up if you can, or in thin layers if you don't have much about when it goes in.


    In the past, when busy, we have just made compost piles or heaps; it all rots down okay, just takes a fair bit longer than in a nice wooden bin, which of course accelerates the process. Compost just happens, you don't need any special recipes, although I've come across some interesting ones in my time, from complicated herb recipes, to bio-dynamic recipes compounded under the waning moon, through other weird stuff to far-out Veganic stuff, where they'd sort through anything suspect that came in, in case there was a bit of horse-poo or a splat of chicken-shit in there someplace. (I once asked a far-out veganic guy if he put his own shit in there, to complete the cycle of return, and he was horrified at the very thought).


    Best big heap I ever made was all sorts of rich animal manures from a circus, heavily mixed in with their straw bedding. Heap was higher than a man to start with,maybe 7 or 8 feet high, and about 30 feet long by at least 10 feet wide. The following year when our old nursery superintendent went and sampled it he came back with a handful, tears in his eyes.
    "Look at this, boy", He said, 'Bloody lovely stuff, ain't seen nothin' like it in years. You did good there, boy!"
    So I got the credit, but I only supervised the stacking; the rest just happened:D:beard:

  • Interesting post, Clayman. We do two sorts of compost: worm compost is the O/H's speciality, we get some really good stuff to add to potting composts from that, plus if there's any left over it is used to help revitalise any particularly poor patches. The other sort of compost is made in bins, each one about 1M x1M, and at least that high. Pretty well everything in the way of organic waste goes in, except food waste - we don't do food waste, we clean up every plate - and it's best well mixed up if you can, or in thin layers if you don't have much about when it goes in.


    In the past, when busy, we have just made compost piles or heaps; it all rots down okay, just takes a fair bit longer than in a nice wooden bin, which of course accelerates the process. Compost just happens, you don't need any special recipes, although I've come across some interesting ones in my time, from complicated herb recipes, to bio-dynamic recipes compounded under the waning moon, through other weird stuff to far-out Veganic stuff, where they'd sort through anything suspect that came in, in case there was a bit of horse-poo or a splat of chicken-shit in there someplace. (I once asked a far-out veganic guy if he put his own shit in there, to complete the cycle of return, and he was horrified at the very thought).


    Best big heap I ever made was all sorts of rich animal manures from a circus, heavily mixed in with their straw bedding. Heap was higher than a man to start with,maybe 7 or 8 feet high, and about 30 feet long by at least 10 feet wide. The following year when our old nursery superintendent went and sampled it he came back with a handful, tears in his eyes.
    "Look at this, boy", He said, 'Bloody lovely stuff, ain't seen nothin' like it in years. You did good there, boy!"
    So I got the credit, but I only supervised the stacking; the rest just happened:D:beard:


    Does the O/H use any worm tea? Just started my wormery this year and wondering how good the tea is and does she put it on everything?


    Well I'm a veggie but it's not the reason I don't put meat, dairy etc simply because it could attract rats. Understand with the no leftovers I'm the same, parents though you wouldn't believe the ammount they throw away, 2 of them and my mum cooks enough for three even four.


    Circus compost you'd make a fortune, i remember years ago watching a programme be Titchmarsh or Gardeners Wiorld and they got hold of zoo manure. Your right though compost does happen and you can put anything on long as you use common sense, I mean we live on a big compost heap anyway.

  • Another tip I'd add to ma's is try to break things up as much as you can, makes it easier for the worms to do their work as unless it's enclosed you'll get worms in your compost, even if it is enclosed good chance you will anyway.

  • Does the O/H use any worm tea? Just started my wormery this year and wondering how good the tea is and does she put it on everything?


    If by worm tea you mean putting some of the worm casts into a cloth bag or small sack, and suspending it in a bucket or small barrel of rainwater for a week or so, then yes, we use it as liquid fertiliser. Particularly appreciated by tomatoes and other greedy plants, but it does seem to help anything that gets watered with it, pot plants especially. I think she dilutes it with about two-thirds rainwater for general use.
    Not tried it myself, but it might work wonders:D

  • If by worm tea you mean putting some of the worm casts into a cloth bag or small sack, and suspending it in a bucket or small barrel of rainwater for a week or so, then yes, we use it as liquid fertiliser. Particularly appreciated by tomatoes and other greedy plants, but it does seem to help anything that gets watered with it, pot plants especially. I think she dilutes it with about two-thirds rainwater for general use.
    Not tried it myself, but it might work wonders:D


    Puts hairs on your chest :pp my tea comes a bit different, I have two plastic storage boxes. The top one as the worms in and as holes drilled into the sides for air and the bottom to let the tea drain into the bottom box, the way your O/H does it is the way I'm going to try out horse manure tea and compost tea.

  • Clayman, that is not 'tea', that is leachate. It is a by-product of having the worm bin too wet.


    You need a bit more cardboard in there, ripped up into small pieces. Leachate is a kind of active fermentation liquid from the over-wetness in the box, and some worm 'experts' say it may contain toxins unhealthy to plants. So they say just tip it into your regular compost bin, where it will be broken down by bacterial action. Just putting a bit more dry stuff in the worm mix will stop the leachate forming, after a couple of weeks.
    (This is after due consultation with Herself, who's been worming for years, and is a regular visitor to several worm sites on the internet, and sometimes does demo's with mobile wormeries to gardening groups).

  • Clayman, that is not 'tea', that is leachate. It is a by-product of having the worm bin too wet.


    You need a bit more cardboard in there, ripped up into small pieces. Leachate is a kind of active fermentation liquid from the over-wetness in the box, and some worm 'experts' say it may contain toxins unhealthy to plants. So they say just tip it into your regular compost bin, where it will be broken down by bacterial action. Just putting a bit more dry stuff in the worm mix will stop the leachate forming, after a couple of weeks.
    (This is after due consultation with Herself, who's been worming for years, and is a regular visitor to several worm sites on the internet, and sometimes does demo's with mobile wormeries to gardening groups).


    I'll be honest I've never heard of that, I've heard of leachate with the land and such. I went with my design simply because every commercial wormery I saw and every diy design had drainage and nearly all collected the liquid for fertiliser, have to say I was a bit worried on not getting even anywhere close to the tea/leachate ammount as others do. Hard to describe the moisture content in the wormery but seems fine and the worms seem happy, they must be as they keep getting their leg over or should that be tail :wub:


    However I do put put paper and sometimes card although my lot seem to go wild for banana skins but and you may laugh they prefer the skin diced I kid you not, anyway thanks for the info i'll look into it more.

  • Yes, worms quite like it moist, they kind of bask in the wet areas like folks bask in sunshine!
    Leachate comes from the mostly anaerobic decomposition of the vegetable matter and water, and would develop at a certain wetness even if there were no worms present.


    As you say, all wormeries should have drainage to prevent them getting soggy, which kills off the worms. It's just that people naturally think the liquid is some kind of worm juice, whereas in fact it is the same type of stuff you get running out of the bottom of a compost heap or bin if it gets too wet. It breaks down when exposed to air and soil and aerobic bacteria.
    I've never known it kill anything, but if given to small plants undiluted it might kill off the very fine hair roots through which they take up nutrients.

  • Yes, worms quite like it moist, they kind of bask in the wet areas like folks bask in sunshine!
    Leachate comes from the mostly anaerobic decomposition of the vegetable matter and water, and would develop at a certain wetness even if there were no worms present.


    As you say, all wormeries should have drainage to prevent them getting soggy, which kills off the worms. It's just that people naturally think the liquid is some kind of worm juice, whereas in fact it is the same type of stuff you get running out of the bottom of a compost heap or bin if it gets too wet. It breaks down when exposed to air and soil and aerobic bacteria.
    I've never known it kill anything, but if given to small plants undiluted it might kill off the very fine hair roots through which they take up nutrients.


    Had a very quick look and will look more this evening, looks fine for tomatoes and another plant I've totally forgot which but probably best watering at the roots as it also states best not to water on leafy veg like lettuce, spinach etc. So looks like it's okay on some but not on others, interesting. Like I say it doesn't produce a great deal of leachate and the worms are healthy enough as I take notice how they've been reacting to what I've been feeding them, I will however be thinking over the next few days on using the leachate as at the moment I've just been storing it as it's not been enough to use, plus the fact I've only got seedlings at the moment and I don't feed until established but thank you for the info, much appreciated Neil.