Composting Anyone? Aspirations of Plot 157

Compost  binThe quality of the soil on the plot is one of the most important things you will address. An allotment with poor soil is like a car with no engine – on a downward slope.

The Easy Option
I have had an allotment for many years on different sites. Last year,  I took the easy way out and purchased a ton bag of soil enrichment from a crowd in Celbridge. They delivered it out to Powerstown and I dug it into my raised beds in November.

Raised Beds – Loss of Moisture
My plot is laid out in raised beds, and raised beds are renowned for loss of moisture. During the warm weather the raised beds can be crisp and dry as a bone within an hour of watering.

My Plan
This year I was hoping to start off my compost bin, which some may have noticed sitting the end of my plot, empty! I have often cleared out dead material from my plot and thrown it out. Why? A compost bin would be a free, easy way to enrich the soil and improve the structure. The key to success, I hope, will be saving organic materials and waste from my plot and home. This material will be broken down, with the aid of bacteria, worms and insects. I dream of a dark rich compost which is often called ‘humus’.

What to Compost
Compost is a little like layer cake. In order to get the materials you add decomposing you will need to consider
carbon, nitrogen, water and air. There needs to be the right mix. ‘Brown’ materials supply the carbon, ‘greens’ supply the nitrogen and mother nature will handle the other two ingredients. You need to add carbon and nitrogen in layers no thicker than 5cm. Don’t be afraid to put in cardboard or newspaper. This allows air to get in among the material.

Brown
Waste paper, shredded paper, bits of cardboard and used kitchen rolls and tissues are all good. Head over to the orchard beside Jenny’s and there is plenty of leaves, prunings, sticks and twigs. These will take a bit longer to break down, so the smaller the better.

Green
Plant waste from your allotment or garden such as carrot tops, beetroot leaves, half munched lettuces are good. Coffee grounds, eggshells, tea bags are good. Some people throw in old food matter such as vegetable peels and fruit.

What NOT to Compost
Blighted potatoes stalks & weeds.

I’ll keep you all posted on my progress. In the meantime, if you have had a good experience making compost – rocket fuel for your soil, then please tell us the secrets to success.

Contributed by Maeve @ Plot 157

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