The art of the compost bin

There’s a definite food chain order in our house. Us – dog – chickens, and anything in between goes in the compost bin. Apparently you shouldn’t add potato peelings – rogue plants pop up all over the place, and definitely no meat, as it attracts rats. The last thing I want to encounter when I open the lid is Roland and all his mates taking advantage all that free grub and under floor heating.

It’s amazing that you can put a whole year’s worth of kitchen and garden waste in there, and it transforms into lovely crumbly compost. Well, that’s the theory. Mine never quite resembles the stuff off the telly, but each year it does get a little bit nearer.

When I first got my bins, I chucked everything in with gay abandon, and the end results were blocks of congealed rubbish. That was OK at the time though – a quick blast with the rotavator soon chopped it all up.

I then went to an event where a woman was demonstrating the art of the compost bin, and I asked her the secret was to getting some of the good stuff.

“What do you put in?” she asked,

I ventured, “Oh, the usual… grass clippings, garden cuttings, peelings and anything that comes out of the chicken coop when I muck them out”.

“Hmmm…. Seems like you are missing the browns”, she replied.

The browns…. What are these mysterious ‘browns’? She then explained that the bin should be filled in layers, with a layer of browns every now and again. Browns, I discovered, were cardboard items. Apparently this layer traps the heat and blasts all the stuff underneath.

I followed this advice, and my compost was still not as top notch as the Titch-meister’s, but was definitely heading in the right direction.

Idly flicking through a gardening book, I discovered the elixir of first class compost was, in fact, urine. Yes, urine, wee, call it what you like, contains some ingredient that helps the whole process along.

Easier said than done. Whilst I get on well with my neighbours, I’m sure the last thing they want to see when they look out of their window is me trying to …ahem…. add to the compost bin. And practically, I’m pretty certain I’d fall in. Turn to Plan B. From my knowledge of the male species, they love to go anywhere BUT in the toilet. With three boys in the house, I would soon be bottling the stuff! I briefed them on their mission, and even provided an old watering can outside the back door. One week later the can was empty. Dry as a bone. Obviously they weren’t quite so fired up about this idea as I was.

I’ve had to resort layering up as before, and adding a bit of plain old water every now and then if the pile looks dry.

This appeared in the Hinckley Times on 24 may 2012

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5 thoughts on “The art of the compost bin

  1. Have you thought about getting one of the Bokashi Bran systems, available through HBBC. I have one but haven’t dared start using it yet. Means you can put cooked food in the composter too 🙂

    • I’ve not looked at them – we don’t tend to have much leftover cooked food. Either I finish stuff up the next day for lunch, or the dog/chickens get it. Leftovers always get used, as I hate throwing food away – let us know how you get on with yours 🙂

      • I suppose for us it’s really only my daughters “floor food” as we call it. The stuff she either knocks or throws overboard and the odd bit of leftover stuff that’s gone in the fridge and then not been eaten. Quite excited about getting started though 🙂

      • Would be interested to know how it goes. I fancied a wormery until I saw the price at a show… I’m sure you could knock one up yourself.

  2. Pingback: Putting the beds to bed | Chooks and Roots

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