Saturday 16 February 2013

Compost Turning - My 3 Bin Method

Today was the first day I was able to get back into the garden for a long time. We are having a mild few days and I am making the most of them.

It is way too early for planting anything here yet but there is loads to do in the garden at this time of year.

I always do a big tidy up in late winter and this is the time of year I try to get my compost rotation sorted.

Left to right; bins 1, 2 and 3.
We have three giant compost bins right at the back of the garden, where mice and mini-beasts roam free. We bought the bins off of the council when they were super-cheap. They are easy to use and, unlike the rest of the garden, they are tidy

Bin 1 is the one in use, today I was raking up leaves, pulling dead weeds and clearing the polytunnel, it all got put in this bin.

Bin 2 is half-cooked - it was filled in the autumn, and has mostly rotted down. There is still an amount of dry grass and cardboard visible on top.

Bin 3 is ready, there are still some bits of dried grass, leaves and eggshell in there, but it is good to go.

To make the best compost, you need to turn it at some point. The compost in the middle will be ready sooner than the stuff around the outside, so you need to turn its outsides to insides and its top to its middle. Also, as compost cooks, it shrinks and in 6 months the pile is only half the size.

My method is to move the half-cooked pile (in Bin 2) on top of the new pile (in Bin 1) In about 4 months I will move this whole pile into Bin 3 and it will be ready to use about a month later.

Another good reason I do my compost this way is that it moves those helpful little compost worms right to where they are needed most and it speeds up the process.

If you look closely you can see lots of little red compost worms
The compost gets worked on about 3 times a year, it used to be a day-long back-breaking job. Until we figued out my 3 bin method and bought a long handled shovel (instead of using a spade) Now it only takes about an hour... it is still a good workout but not nearly as painful as it used to be.

We actually have another 4 compost bins spread around the garden, I have different methods for them, but that can wait for another day.

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