Compost Bin: Humble Beginnings

 Having decided, foolishly, to save the planet, I’m not sure where to start. However, it seems that humble beginnings are generally considered acceptable in the saviour line of work, so I thought I’d start with rubbish – the compostable sort at least.

I’ve just read one of those ’Grow Your Own’ articles in which the GYO expert, armed with hammer, nails and perfectly sawn lengths of timber, expertly knocks together a compost bin you’d be proud to give pride of place to in your front garden, never mind an overlooked corner. My life doesn’t seem to be like this at all, it’s more a sad catalogue of badly made gates hanging off their hinges. The Man from Salford has very kindly donated to my compost building efforts some wooden pallets he found at the container base where he works.

They have been painted an unbecoming, industrial-looking, blue colour. Nevertheless, they are serviceable and I’m sure it should be a commandment of S.L.P principles to make use of what others no longer want rather than buy new. (Hey commandments already, I’m getting good at this saviour stuff!) I’ve decided to position the heap behind some trees at the back of the slope, above the septic tank.

The floor already consists of some healthy leaf mould so there should be plenty of micro-life going on here, my one worry is there will not be enough sun to sufficiently warm the heap. Hopefully, by summer, the leaves on the trees will obscure the blue colour and with luck when it is revealed the following winter it will have taken on a more pleasing mouldy patina and will be filled with lovely, earthy, crumbly stuff.

Well, now the heap’s up and standing, what to compost? When I consulted my mum (Granny Goo), a keen allotmenteer, on this matter she replied, ‘Oh, they simply love egg boxes.’ She said this in a manner which suggested she personally consults her heap on a regular basis, perhaps we should all be talking encouragingly to our heaps as well as our plants. I can’t say this reply struck me as terribly comprehensive, so here is what I’ve gleaned from my research:

All of the following ‘green’ or ‘moist’ waste is acceptable fodder for your bin; vegetable and fruit peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, annual plants and weeds. Adding the leaves (but not roots or seedheads) of nettles and comfrey are highly nutritious contributions. Grass cuttings and fine hedge trimmings can also go in.

All of the following ‘brown’ or ‘dry’ waste can be added; cardboard from cereal boxes, toilet and kitchen roll inners, shredded or scrunched paper (avoid anything glossy though), autumn leaves – if you have a lot of these you might prefer to make a separate leaf-mould cage, sawdust, paper and wood-ash, the contents of your vacuum cleaner if you know it’s only been used for dust and hair and plants that have dried out.