There’s heaps of stuff begging to be composted in Autumn — finished crops and spent flowers abound! Because homemade compost is the best, take 15 minutes and turn all your garden waste into gardeners gold with one of my quick and easy, no turn compost piles.
Little and Often
My composts piles are small — 1m x 1m, and quickly put together. If you make 1 or 2 a month you’ll have a regular supply of your own compost. Perfectly matched to little and often planting in the veggie patch.
Free Range Compost Piles
A pile of organic matter draws worms and a multitude of beneficial soil life, so it makes sense to position compost piles carefully and reap the benefits. Around the edge of the veggie patch is smart because the boom in soil life benefits the veggie garden. Directly on top of a veggie bed saves double handling — simply spread it out when it’s ready. Here’s how I use my compost piles.
- Make compost directly on the bed before a heavy feeder. Spread it out when it’s ready.
- Make an Autumn compost as the best beginning for a spring bed.
- A compost pile is a great start for a fruit tree. Lay wet newspaper/ cardboard on the grass and make a pile on top. Let it rot down before planting.
- Make a compost pile in Autumn direct on the potato bed or in Spring on the pumpkin bed
- Revive a tired garden bed with a compost pile.
My Quick and Easy Compost
Gather all your ingredients via a garden tidy up. Wander the garden with the wheelbarrow collecting friendly weeds, spent crops and prunings from rambunctious plants that have over stepped their space. Chop or break everything into 20cm bits, putting them in the wheelbarrow as you go. Include plenty of prunings from mineral rich herbs like yarrow and parsley, and soft stalky plants like borage or dandelion to bring air to the mix. You’ll need a very full (as in barely able to see over it) wheelbarrow load.
Tip the barrow out and spread into a single layer beside where the pile will be.
Sprinkle over activator (herbs, seaweed, manure) to get the microbes excited, and spray lightly with the hose.
Toss all together.
Layer it up into a square pile, a minimum of 1mx1m.
Pour a bucket of liquid feed over.
Cover completely with sacks, carpet, old blankets — whatever you have to hand.
That’s it! Done! No turning required and lovely compost in about 4 months time.
The Microbes Are Key
The real work of composting is done by microbes. The better a job we do of enticing them into our compost pile, the better our compost is. Here’s what they need
- air (soft, stalky stuff + a bit of dry stuff)
- a variety of herbs and plant waste
- a scattering of activator (herbs, seaweed, rotten manure)
- to be barely moist (neither wet nor dry)
There’s no need to stress about the ratio of dry, brown matter to fresh greens. Turns out garden waste has exactly the right carbon: nitrogen ration of 25:1 that microbes need.