After the last Horti meeting on composting I was asked to write a note on what we do at Glenarn. Around the garden are a number of circular bins about 1.2m (4ft) wide and 0.9m (3ft) high made out of a square netting system used in security fences (much better than chicken wire which also has to be supported). In late autumn, these are filled with leaves raked up from the paths and lawns and topped up from time to time when garden is tidied up.
A year later in, early autumn, before the leaves have fallen from the trees, the contents of the bins are forked out into barrows, and taken up to large concrete compost bins and mixed in with the grass cuttings from that year, in thin layers giving a 50/50 mix. We pick out any twigs while doing this and add Garrotta which makes us feel better. A minimum of 3 compost bins will be required.
We put the vegetable waste from the kitchen, just as it comes, into an old fashioned rubbish bin with a tight top, to keep vermin out. The sloppy contents are added to the pile during the mixing process. Also, we incorporate material when clearing the vegetable patch at the end of the season. We cover the concrete compost bins with old carpet squares which keep off the worst of the rain. After a year we turn the bin into the next, empty bin and, after leaving it another year, it is ready to use aa a wonderful top-dressing material for all our beds and for forking in when planting.
Although 3 years might seem a long time it allows the leaves to rot down and, as I noted at the meeting, it gives the desired 25-30/1 Carbon to Nitrogen mix that we should be looking for. Also, being an essentially cold process, no weeds or other pernicious material are allowed or included which ensures a clean mix and simplifies life in the garden.
We will be very happy to show members the process in more detail at Glenarn, in Rhu.