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Building a Compost Heap

Some decent weather for a change, even sunshine, so I couldn’t let the whole day go to waste and got outside in the afternoon. Before I could get to the plot, however, I had to mow the lawn. Still, it’s all good compost material.

Down to the plot where there is no shortage of compost material so my first job was to build the compost heap, I’d got the haulm from the Sarpo potatoes, weeds and the dead tomato plants sitting on the plot, ready to use as well as a few of the comfrey plants in need of a cut.

Now a proper compost heap is not just a matter of piling a load of green waste up and leaving it, although that is what most of us do. Having got a load of stuff, I piled it up in layers about 6″ deep. First potato haulm, which is a bit thick and woody, followed by the green weeds and then a sprinkling of urea to activate the heap. Urea is a chemical which is 40% nitrogen, not wee. You can use urine to activate a compost heap, which also contains a high level of nitrogen. Just save it up then mix with water and apply with a watering can diluted with water.

Now I have mentioned this before and been asked about disease etc. So to reassure you, human urine is sterile, unless you’re ill with a urinary tract infection. I have double-checked this with a doctor.

OK, back to the compost heap. Then another layer of mixed weeds and tomato haulm but this time a scattering of lime. The lime keeps the compost from getting too acid which helps the microbes that cause decomposition do their job.

Then another layer with added urea, then another with lime and so forth until all the material was in the heap. By this stage it was a couple of feet higher than the sides but it will drop down quite quickly.

In a month or so when it has probably reduced to half its present height, I’ll fork it over into the other bin which will mix it up and start those microbes working again to eat the lot and turn it from waste to compost.

Back over to plot 29, which is getting much the same treatment, except I’m piling everything into a black dalek bin, the other two plastic compost bins being full. My plan is to clear some room on the plot and then empty the green bin that has rotted down, move and mix the other bin’s contents into the now empty bin and then empty the smaller dalek bin into the now empty first green bin. Phew – does that make sense?

Few good deeds go unpunished and building the heap was no exception. In the few days the haulm was left on the plot, the red ants had moved in. Although I was wearing gloves, there being the odd nettle in there, my sleeves were rolled up and a group of angry creatures about 3 mm long beat me up.

I’d just brushed them off and thought no more about it until I got home when my arm came up in little red bumps and began to itch. I don’t mean an idle, absent minded itch. I mean a remove the skin from your arm, I can’t stop itch. Thank goodness for Anthisan cream.

Back home I was met with sad news, a chap I worked with for years had had a heart attack and died. He was only 61 and as fit as a fiddle last time I’d seen him. None of us know what is in store. We make our plans and forget the fact each day could be our last. Brings it home to you.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
3 comments on “Building a Compost Heap
  1. nickyveglover says:

    Sorry to hear about your friend John, we never know whats around the corner so we must live every day as of its your last.

  2. Margaret and Tara says:

    Hi John sorry about your friend, yes we never know whats around the corner. In just a little over 3yrs I have lost a sister, 2 brothers,my dear mum, and mums sister a very dear auntie, neadles to say ‘time is valuble’ I try to make the most of each day. Love your site your all like good friends.keep up the good work.

  3. John says:

    Thanks for the kind comments – I remember him driving me to a cemetery and telling me that “we all end up here, so make the most of it”, which was good advice. As my boss, he felt I was overworking and that was his way of making the point.

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