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Martin B

Compost question.

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I'm the only person in the household who really uses the compost bin. I put in eggshells, chicken+rabbit pooh, occassionally newspaper and any veg that the rabbits or chooks won't eat, when we mow the lawn the grass cuttings go in too!


However the problem is that I have never produced any good compost it's always been wet and sludgey. The only good use it has ever come to is giving the chickens a scoop in their run so they can peck for insects.


Can anyone give me any advice on how to get decent, usuable compost?


All comments appreciated,


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Try layering any grass you put in with straw, hay, shredded newspaper or shreded cardboard but avoid stuff with glossy printing on it. That way the moisture in the grass gets absorbed sooner. Also try turn the heap over more often. I have two bins and three slots for them every so often I lift the one bin up and move it to the free slot and then fork the contents back into it the bin, this gets air into to dry up excess moisture and mixes up any clumpy wet bits. Not always pleasant work but it really can help.

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You want to turn it over with a large fork/pitchfork. It will smell, I know! We have three compost heaps!


You should mix it with some newspaper which has been shredded. Thoroughly mix it, by turning and adding. This will absorb the moisture. Does it still have worms and bugs in?


You should only use the compost when there are no bugs in it, this shows that all the food has gone and makes it usable. It does take time, so be patient, roughly a year you will have to wait.

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Hi, may I butt in?


there is one good way to use up your sludgy compost without waiting!

I see from another thread that you are growing your own veg, well done you!


runner beans are easy to grow and the best way to get them off to a flying start is to 'trench' them.

That means, you dig a trench where you plan to sow your beans later in the year. Line the trench with newspapers (quite thickly) to hold in the water, then proceed to fill the trench with anything you would normally compost and of course, your sludgy stuff.

Always cover new additions with a layer of earth to deter scavengers.


when it's finally time to sow your beans (after all danger of frost has passed) the earth in the trench will be rich and moisture retentive and your beans will grow beautifully and their nitrogen fixing roots will actually compost the sludgy stuff for you.


Good luck, Tara

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Hi Martin


Before Christmas went on an introduction to composting course for my work. I work for the Environment Agency and regulate commerical composting sites. Things like odour can be a problem at such sites and the course gave some useful information regarding the science of composting and why some practices can give rise to odourous stuff. Forgive me for being a bit of an anorak in what follows :wink:


From your description it sounds like your problem is too much material with a high nitrogen component. Nitrogen rich material is typically grass cuttings, other geen material and yes, chicken poo. This will result in what is known as anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions and favour anaerobic bacteria. This is what gives rise to the foul smell as they degrade the material.


A good compost heap requires a carbon input which encourages bugs/bacteria that favour aerrobic conditions to thrive and helps to degrade aerobically. This is usually stuff like woody material, paper, cardbord etc. The ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio is 30:1. So advice given by others on this thread about adding stuff high in carbon such as straw, shredded paper, abuoise/hemcore is good. These will increase the carbon content and help to encourage the aerobic bacteria and so lessen the potential to smell! Anaerobic conditions lead to bad smell :!:


Also it helps to turn and mix the compost. This will also help promote aerobic conditions and encourage the aerobic bacteria since oxygen will be mixed in. If these guidelines are followed the result should be a great compost :)


Well that's it - anorak time over :) Hope the info helps.



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I have 5 compost bins and a wormery and they all make good compost. But you do have to layer different things e.g. brown stuff (paper etc) and green stuff (garden stuff).


Everything that's been said before is correct, but no one has mentioned the activator. You can buy this from the shops, but personally, I prefer the one that is free and readily available - urine. Yes, when you're out in the garden wee in a bucket and chuck it on top. You should dilute this one in seven with water. Personally, I just guess with the water. It works, it's free and it saves time going indoors for a wee to!! Go on give it a try, you know you want to.

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