September III: the compost season so far

Back in the spring, I talked about how I needed to generate about 2 cubic metres of compost to prepare the garden for the 2018 season.

How am I doing in early September?

Not too bad, as it turns out.

I created a pile of horse manure and straw by February 2017, which now looks like this:

This is around 0.5 cubic metres and will be used for potatoes in 2018.

I made two full heaps in my wire cages in early April using grass, horse manure, straw, cardboard and leaves plus twigs. These were combined at the end of April into the larger cage and used to top up daleks which were receiving kitchen waste and harvested haulms through to the end of June. A third heap was created during May and June in the emptied cage.

At the beginning of August, both cages, having been regularly turned, were progressing well and were combined in a one cubic metre builders bag to store/mature until the autumn. The feature image shows that compost, it being another half a cubic metre.

The four 220 liter daleks with over-wintered compost were spread on the garden between early March and the end of June 2017, providing the garden with its first proper compost feed of 4-5cm depth.

These four daleks were then regularly filled through spring and early summer with kitchen waste, tree prunings, grass cuttings, cardboard and partially matured compost from the heaps created in March. All were full by the end of July and by late August, two were combined to free up one for ongoing kitchen waste etc.

These four, when mature, should give a third half a cubic metre, bringing the total up to 1.5 cubic metres.

In the meantime, the two cages have been filled again with potato haulms, tomato haulms, grass, spent flowers, tree prunings etc, as well as the spent compost from tomatoes and potatoes grown in pots.

As I have now got a fresh supply of horse manure and straw from the stables, these will be combined with the caged material to provide material for another 0.5-1.0 cubic metres of compost by the end of November.

It just shows how much compost you can make from your own back garden!

Finally, I am well on the way to creating my own leaf litter compost, starting with four 35 litre pots stuffed full of wet leaves in November 2016, combined into one pot in April 2017 and now only about half a pot full:

This will be tested in spring 2018 as a seed compost.

So overall, I think I am showing you can be nearly self sufficient when it comes to compost for the garden.

2018s challenge will be creating enough in addition for all the tomatoes, potatoes and carrots grown in pots and bags…..

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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