LET’S take a look at that boring subject of compost once again. It might seem a subject of little importance but if you have a garden there is no harm in putting all the garden rubbish in a pile and allowing it to decompose naturally which is all there is to making a compost heap.
There are few secrets and most gardens have a corner that can be put to good use.
The other way is to buy a bin that kitchen waste and garden rubbish can be put in and rotated from time to time to help mix it all up.
But first to the ‘heap’, that corner where you simply start with whatever rubbish, be it weeds or grass cuttings and of course kitchen waste.
Here we must be very strict about the kitchen waste, only raw vegetable waste, nothing cooked or meat that will surely attract rats and mice, and we don’t want to encourage those into the garden.
Once on the pile, fruit and vegetable peelings can be covered with a sprinkling of soil to keep flies and mosquitos away. It doesn’t take long for the rotting waste to be almost unrecognisable, and thats when you knowyou are on your way.
You only need an area of about three foot square to start off with, shallow the ground out a little to start off with, putting the soil to one side to use as the ‘covering’.
If you wish, this first area can be squared off with some sort of raised bed effect with a few planks of wood or some such to maintain a tidy edging.
Just keep adding layer upon layer and when it looks to be filling up begin to allow the mound to pile up or turn the content from side to side covering the newly added waste withwhatever has already rotted back.
Very large leaves like those from a rubber tree or Nispero and thick twigs will not rot back so are best binned.
At this point what you may well find are lots of tiny worms well down under, these are the ones doing the work for you.
There are those gardeners who like to buy worms for the compost heap but I have to admit that I have never needed to do that, I seem to have more worms in my garden than I ever started with.
Should you have access to horse droppings or even have chickens in your own garden this is about the best natural help you can find to add to the compost.
When the local riding school had just ridden past our front gate , the children knew they would be asked to go out into the street with a shovel and pick up the horses ‘what not’ that always seems to be left along the road!!
So now what do we do with all this compost?
Some refer to it as ‘black gold’ and is really healthy to add to newly dug- over ground before planting up for the next season, the ground may well be a little tired and in need of a boost.
Its useful for filling plant pots for the terrace or added as a mulch over the ground and most of all in the bottom of little trenches before planting up such seeds as the peas and beans we are frequently talking of planting at this time of year.
There is hardly a month when one can’t be planting here in this Mediterranean climate.
Some of course germinate quicker than others or need more constant watering, its all a matter of just watching the weather and at this time of year watching out for the sunny days to escape out into the garden, where as inthe heat of the summer months one looks for the shade. The compost of course is all year round and you really can never have too much of it decomposing all the time.
Keeping it well covered with already decomposed soil from the bottom of the heap you will honestly never have a dissagreable smell of rotting vegetation, in fact newly turned compost has a really ‘new’ earthy smell of its own..
Something else to add to the garden at this time of year is the wood -ash from the stove if you have a wood-burning fire place.
Besides adding potassium to the soil, slugs and snails don’t really like sliding over wood ash so there you have a natural repellent, its all part of the ecological gardening we are constantly being reminded of, easy to follow and costs nothing.
- Be very strict about what to put on the compost heap from the kitchen, only raw vegetable waste, nothing cooked or meat.
- Sprinkle soil over the top of your compost heap to keep mostquitos away.
If you have access to horse droppings or even have chickens in your own garden this is about the best natural help you can find to add to the compost.
- Use compost in pots, as a mulch or in trenches or bean and pea seed sowing.
- Something else to add to the garden at this time of year is the wood-ash from the stove if you have a woodburning fire.