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Compost experiment

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Messages: 1 - 50 of 734
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    I have been reading all the comments people are making about the problems they have making good compost. Also the ways they go about protecting their allotment plots over winter. Covering them, digging and growing green crops etc. I have also read all the good replies and suggestions other people have made as to how they make good compost etc. What I think we should do is conduct our own experiment to see if the people who cannot make compost do manage to by next spring by taking on these new suggestions. Also whether plotholders have managed to improve their ground by also trying new ideas. This way we could get some idea of what the best methods to use are. This may help new plotholders next year in helping them get started. What do you think? We do not get much long term feedback.

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    I think that it is a good idea Londonplantmad.I will keep notes as a new lottie holder. I am digging at the moment and have no intention of covering the soil with anything. I will be adding farmyard manure if I can get some and will also be adding my homemade compost.
    I have some raspberry canes in already which I was given from another lottie holder from his back garden.smiley - biggrin

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    Thats great. If we get enough plotholders we can get a better idea of what works the best with different soils. And different methods of making compost which are the most successful.

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    I hope so too talk soon Sunday dinner duties callsmiley - doh

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by sweetleaf (U3262132) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    Im in on that, Im trying two different methods on my plots, covering the soil with plastic/canvas on one and green manure/compost on the other....couldnt get enough plasticsmiley - doh
    My compost cooks well at the lottie but the black dalek bins at home are cr*ppy IMO.

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by jollyKenandRita (U4059481) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    We think that is a good idea londonplantmad we have raised beds on our plot and this year as they come empty we are going to spred our home made compose of which we have plenty this year and then we shall cover them with canvas sheeting for the winter and let the worms do the work we have light soil so hope this will give it more body let you know next spring.

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 6.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    The best thing to do is decide which you want to tackle to improve. Keep brief notes with dates of what and when you change your process. What you use or stop using etc. Then in spring we can see what has been successful and what has not. Like trying to get your plastic bins working properly. You never know we could all have great plots and great compost with a new process.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    I am going to buy a lottie diary tomorrow and start here and now.
    Things I did and when etc like rotivation price was it worth it.
    Going to bring my windmill shaper compost bin to lottie and compare it with my square one at home see which works best.
    I'm not going to bother with covering soil I will have to dig when planting stuff and so if I have to dig some weeds to less work than laying old carpet plastic etc.

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by sweetleaf (U3262132) on Sunday, 1st October 2006

    I covered some of the soil when I dug my potatoes and then ran out of plastic.(The plastic has tiny holes to allow water through) The uncovered portion has sprouted weeds like a green tide, since the rain, but lift up the black plastic, and the soil is as it was when first dug/weeded, ready for planting.
    Im quite impressed as the plastic is reusable.
    I covered a weedy portion on the other lottie, with a lorry canvas and the weeds have gone brown and started to rot,will dig that and recover.

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Monday, 2nd October 2006

    Great to see everyone is getting into the project. It will be great if there is some improvement just by making things a bit different. I am sure it will work because I have tried this and I know it does. We can all make our gardening a bit easier if we do these types of experiments now and again. Why make life hard when a bit of effort makes it easy in the long run. I hope the people who say they cannot make compost join in as well. Sharing our ideas will help all of us.

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Monday, 2nd October 2006

    Forgot. Its a good idea to keep a notebook or diary. Then you can refer back and consider what was not a good idea and what was. You don't have to write a lot just short notes. I also keep a note of crops that were good or bad so I know what to grow and not to grow under certain conditions. Thanks for taking part.

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  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Monday, 2nd October 2006

    Ping for anybody else who wants to join in

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  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by everos (U2401907) on Tuesday, 3rd October 2006

    This is not strictly about compost, but last autumn decided to try the "no dig" method in my garden which is fairly heavy. I spread mushroom & garden compost over it & left for the worms to do the work. The result, taking into account the dry weather, was quite successful. I shall do this again this year, as I can't now do the digging. Has anyone else tried this?

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by dungdigger (U3799334) on Tuesday, 3rd October 2006

    This year I'm making an extra effort to get my compost to rot down quickly...

    I bought a second hand shredder to use on prunings, etc. (I can only use this in the garden as there's no electricity at the lottie.)

    Also, I'm trying to get the air to circulate better. I put bricks at the bottom of the bins, supporting a layer of wire (chickenwire and an old fireguard.) This allows the air to get underneath. Then 3 or 4 vertical drainpipes with large holes drilled in them, and filled with chickenwire to stop them getting clogged up.

    Not very scientific as I'm not doing a control, but I'll let you know if it makes any difference.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Tuesday, 3rd October 2006

    We need to know the results next spring of any of your own ideas. Whatever happens. I did the mushroom compost method for a few years when I first got my allotment years ago and it was very successful. After then I had enough of my own compost to keep it going. Thats why I am sure everyone can make compost well if they get the method right.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by stuandlou (U3808005) on Thursday, 5th October 2006

    This all sounds great.
    I am developing two areas of my garden and have been trying to decide what form of grop rotation to do with just two areas.

    I am now going to prep one area with home compost and then cover over winter and the second area plant green amnure to grow over winter.

    Looking forward to summer to see which produces the best crop


    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by StinkingGladwyn (U5531491) on Thursday, 5th October 2006

    I have just taken over a very large plot, and on part of it there is a large pile of well-rotted manure ( as I found when my boot went through the rotten tarp covering it! ). Also there is an unused roll of the weed suppressor with the pinholes for rainwater, I have a local source of horse manure for the digging and I have seed to grow green manure. I'll try all four on half the plot and keep notes...

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  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by patty_e (U3926943) on Friday, 6th October 2006

    I too have a heavy soil and never dig / cover my plot.As well as home composting,every 5 years or so, I add a lot of horse muck & bought in compost, and it works a treat.

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Friday, 6th October 2006

    we are doing well at the moment lots of great ideas. i can see some good compost coming up next year and the plots and crops will be great. Can't wait for the spring all those happy gardeners.

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by Nooj (U3233455) on Saturday, 7th October 2006

    I haven't taken notes before but will do this year - it'll be fascinating to see what really works best.
    In the past I have used mushroom compost and my own garden compost and horse manure - all separately, year after year.
    My compost and the mushroom stuff worked well, bot the effect of the horse manure was startlingly good!!
    I was amazed at the texture of the soil later - I could have almost planted with a spoon or my fingers! So, i'm trying to get some more.

    One word of warning about covering with black plastic and old carpet.
    I've done a lot of that too, but stand well back when you roll it back.

    A friend helping me had a nasty shock to uncover very healthy and happy rats nesting underneath!
    Stands to reason really, they are intelligent animals and know a nice warm place to spend winter in

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  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Saturday, 7th October 2006

    I have just spent 2 hours digging in the lottie today and have almost half of the plot dug now.
    It will definatley need rotivating and compost/farmyard manure before the winter sets in. I will be keeping notes as promised.

    Report message21

  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by stellamaryrose (U4022547) on Monday, 9th October 2006

    I was one of those people who could never seem to make compost! After some advice from the gardening message board I have now got one of the black beehive compost bins from my local council (for free!!). Have filled it with kitchen scraps, and all the stuff coming off the veg beds and flower beds (like last of pea plants) and using grass cuttings as activator. Have to admit to putting in some of that powder activator stuff which apparently breaks it down quicker. (read somewhere that bonemeal will aslo do as an activator - anyone know if this works??)

    Also - have some horse manure which has been spread on veg beds and I have saved a bag to go into compost bin. So - so far seem to be doing it by the book. But there seems to be no heat off the bin really. Its not "hot" like some other people have been reporting.

    Anyway - fingers crossed and we'll see in the spring.

    Report message22

  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by stellamaryrose (U4022547) on Monday, 9th October 2006


    I spent last weekend spreading 20 bags of horse manure all over the veg and flower beds! Like you - I have just spread it and am waiting for the rain and worms to do their thing! Then will dig it in in the Spring. The stuff is full of worms. Hopefully will add fertitity to the soil as well as improve the texture.

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  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Monday, 9th October 2006

    Everyone is doing great. I cannot wait to see those results in the spring. Not many people can get small compost heaps hot. You need the right things in it or it needs to be a big heap. Don't worry about it not being hot it will still break down. You can buy Garrotta but comfrey will also work as an activator.

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 24.

    Posted by Nooj (U3233455) on Monday, 9th October 2006

    And if you can get someone to wee in it - all the better!
    Otherwise, as I have hd no success with asking my loved ones, you will just have to save your own and pour that in.

    However, something I have been reluctant to ask elsewhere - what if you are taking prescription medicines - will it affect the compost and then everything else?
    I have 2 medicines that I will have to take for life - am I maybe doing harm by the occasional compost wetting?
    Is there a pharmacist/gardener out there to give advice?

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 25.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Saturday, 14th October 2006

    Just pinging this for anyone who wants to join in

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Saturday, 14th October 2006

    Great to read you are getting into the spirit of this experiment. Make sure you get enough waste into your compost over your allotment through the winter. I used to take my kitchen waste over in a bucket once a week to keep it going. Dont forget to cover it if it starts to rain heavy. You all seem to be doing great.

    Report message27

  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by a1dudders (U6147682) on Sunday, 15th October 2006

    Hi.I'm a new member, so will take time for message to come through..............I would like to know what this Mushroom method is and how to do it. We are building workshop at bottom of garden and have plenty of room for garden and lawn left. But do not want to dig, (lazy layabout you see.) The garden for produce will be 30-35ft x 15-20ft. (Still using old mesurements as I'm old too)Will this method be off any use and if so how and what to do? Your army of lottie keepers should be the ones to give advice I'm sure.

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Sunday, 15th October 2006

    I've just come back from the allotment and got a good bit of digging done. As I'm onholidays for the rest of this week I intend to spend a few hours tomorrow and Tuesday down there and finish off the heavy digging and get a rotivator organised for Friday and hey presto all the heavy work will be done weather permitting.
    Thats the plan anyway will let you all know if the plan works out.

    Report message29

  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Sunday, 15th October 2006

    Welcome to the board a1dudders,
    about digging there is no alternative to digging I'm afraid unless you are rich enough to employ somebody to do the hard work for you. The tried and tested method of doing a small bit at a time works and if you do it yourself imagine the satisfaction you will get and then you can spend all that lovely loot you will have saved on lovely plants. BTW I'm still on feet and inches too so you'r not the only one.
    By "mushroom method" maybe you are refering to mushroom compost? Good luck with your project whatever you decide to do with your garden smiley - magic

    Report message30

  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 30.

    Posted by a1dudders (U6147682) on Monday, 16th October 2006

    Hi clondalkinggardener, thanks for the reply. Got quiet excited to see some one answering. Not done it before, anyway I was afaid the answer would be "Dig and be damed" I have been digging this morning (boarders) and boy do I hurt. Its all new to me. I have moved in with my partner who is disabled and as you can imagine the garden is like a jungle. O well here goes. Thanks again. Jez

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  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 31.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Wednesday, 18th October 2006

    Hi a1d,
    Glad you got startes just do a small bit at a time it is not a race just do as much as you want at any one time. You will appreciateit more when you can compare what you have achieved against the rest. It is always work in progress. I have just got my back garden the way I want it after 13 years living here. Now I have started my lottie and am giving myself 5 years to get the soil in order it's the only way realy.
    I have made big planting gaffs and have had to remove some stuff I had planted in my back garden. It is all part of the enjoyment.

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  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 32.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    Sorry I did not respond quicker A1dudders but my broadband was out of action. I see you got a quick response anyway. Its great to see everyone is getting to grips with the experiment. I have been digging away and getting my plot ready for winter. Next year I am sure we are all going to benefit from the extra efforts we are putting in now. As the months go on maybe we should remind new plot holders of what we should be preparing as the time arrives. Like when to sow seeds,buy seed potatoes etc. It will help others who are new to growing veg.

    Report message33

  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by sweetleaf (U3262132) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    Good Idea Londonplantmad, has everyone planted their winter onions and garlic yet? Supplies are now in good garden centres but in my area they are selling out fast.
    My OH has bought me a little tractor, yes I said tractor although its a walk behind model, and many years old, Ill let you know how I get on with it, as it looks a little scarey smiley - yikes

    Report message34

  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    I knew I would get a quick response from someone. Another thing is if you see any bargains around post it up so we know were to save some money or any good ideas.

    Report message35

  • Message 36

    , in reply to message 35.

    Posted by sweetleaf (U3262132) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    Plotty has come up with a good Idea for mulching paths, and that is to get in touch with local tree surgeons, who have to pay to get rid of their wood chippings and offer to take some off their hands.
    Plotty gave me a number for my area, but googling will bring up numbers whatever area you live in!
    The chippings would not be good for mulching beds unless composted first, but very useful nonetheless.

    smiley - biggrin

    Report message36

  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 36.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    Hi all,
    I hope it doesn't rain too much tomorrow as I have organised a rotivator and lots of farmyard manure to be delivered to the lottie. It has been raining here (Dublin) for the last two days.
    So that will be the hard work done on my lottie I hope. It will be easy work fromnow on here's hoping.smiley - biggrin

    Report message37

  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 37.

    Posted by exkiwi (U1080243) on Thursday, 19th October 2006

    Just so I can find this again.
    i have two of the plastic compost bins, I filled one quickly and it got quite hot but it isn't doing much at the moment. i know I should take everything out and put it back in but i have more to do at the moment than time to do it in, as usual.

    Report message38

  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 38.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Thursday, 26th October 2006

    Dont worry if the compost does not look like its doing much. Is your plastic bin open in the bottom or closed ? If its closed I would put a shovel full of soil in it so you get some worms in there as well. If you keep adding to it it will get going as long as its got a good mix of materials. Water it as well if its dry.

    Report message39

  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 36.

    Posted by StinkingGladwyn (U5531491) on Monday, 30th October 2006

    That sounds like a good plan: I've just marked out six beds I'll be working on, and I've allowed 3ft between each so I can get the barrow round easily. I have a lot of couch grass- 2 barrowloads of roots from just one bed the other day, and a mulch of chippings on the paths should help to keep it down.

    Report message40

  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Monday, 30th October 2006

    That takes me back to when I first started my allotment. Now I have great beds and good compost. Very little digging now just weeding .The beds will be great once you get them cleared. It is hard work at first but well worth the effort in the end. Just think of all those lovely veggies and fruits you will be eating next year. That should keep you all going.

    Report message41

  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Tuesday, 31st October 2006

    If you have a lot of comfrey around get some and add it to your compost it will work as an activator and break the compost down. Keep up the good work you all seem to be doing great.

    Report message42

  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by acerlover (U5975802) on Monday, 6th November 2006

    I would like to convert my compost heap which is now twelve months old and ready for use to the type of compost sold by garden centres etc as Multi Purpose Compost.
    Any suggestions as to how to do this?

    Report message43

  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 43.

    Posted by acerlover (U5975802) on Monday, 6th November 2006

    Perhaps I should add to my query re using my home made compost as an alternative to Multi purpose composts. I would like to use it for seed sowing and cuttings

    Report message44

  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 44.

    Posted by ck2005 (U2290972) on Monday, 6th November 2006

    Not sure, but you may have to sterilise your compost if you intend to use it for seed sowing - I think I read someone suggesting doing that in the microwave.

    Report message45

  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 45.

    Posted by Adrian Clarke (U1668094) on Monday, 6th November 2006

    Two year old leafmould - especially with some added comfrey or nettles makes about the best seed compost. I am going to try this next year - don't know about sterilising though.

    Report message46

  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by stellamaryrose (U4022547) on Friday, 10th November 2006

    Just a quick update on my compost. It has been filled, the stuff has reduced in size, refilled etc about 4 - 5 times. I haven't been near it in a few weeks and when I looked at it the other day, the material in the bin is only about 15cm deep! It really has decomposted! I was amazed and I haven't even added the bag of horse manure yet. We are about to start adding the leaves. They only started coming down in our garden this week. Will shred the leaves by lawn mowing them up off the lawn and then add to the compost. I may use some activator as I know leaves take a long time to decompost. Don't know how good it is as compost (I intend only to use it as a general compost and as soil improver not as seed compost) but am really happy that it is working!!
    Cheers and thanks for all the advice.

    ps - this must be the latest and longest Autumn ever! I can't believe the leaves are so late in falling. I'm in Northern Ireland - how is it for everyone else??

    Report message47

  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by clondalkingardener (U2328443) on Friday, 10th November 2006

    Hi SMR,
    I'm in Dublin and the leaves have realy only started to fall last weekend. It has been very cold/ freezing cold here in the evenings (from about 4pm) for the past few days.

    Report message48

  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by wormlover (U3098858) on Sunday, 12th November 2006

    At the moment I am trying out two methods of composting
    1) Is the dioleket type one is on the ground and the second is lifted so I can put a container underneath to catch the juices to feed the plants latter

    2)Is open plastic veg. creates normaly black. When I get the veg waste home I break it down with the food blender(kenwood) throw it into the trays open to the elementsand I is rotting down wellI have no carpeting on the sides so the wind and rain can get straight in. Then when I am ready I will cover the sides with matting so the danp comes from the soiland with it being on soil the worms will be plenty full

    Report message49

  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 49.

    Posted by londonplantmad (U2392946) on Sunday, 12th November 2006

    There are so many good ideas going on here. I can't wait to see if you all get good compost for the spring. I hope so it won't be from lack of effort if you don't.

    Report message50

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