Saturday, January 06, 2007

Uses For Compost

I've been taking a couple of trugs of compost down to the allotment every day from the garden compost heap. That's because the garden heaps are full whereas the allotment ones are almost empty. But it's the allotment that needs the nutrients right now.

For example, I've put a generous mulch of compost over two of my rhubarb crowns, and I've put a bucket over another, covered with compost, to "force" the rhubarb (i.e. encourage it to grow early, long, tender shoots which I'm really looking forward to eating as soon as possible). That one will need a bit more compost tomorrow, because the point is to exclude light, something almost none of the gardening books tell you. Upending a cheap orange bucket from B&Q over your rhubarb crowns will do no good whatever, as glowy orange light will filter through quite strongly.

Compost is absolutely magic. It's something non-gardeners (or at least non-composters) just can't understand, why people get so excited about compost. You throw smelly rubbish like tea bags and banana peels in a big pile, with some grass clippings, shredded paper, and even stinky chicken poo. And a few months later you have beautiful brown crumbly compost that you can quite happily rub your fingers through without feeling that you are touching anything foul. And its transformative effect on your soil and garden produce is just as magical. It's the nearest we can get to alchemy - turning dross into gold.

9 comments:

dibnah said...

my wife often shouts "stop looking at photos of compost on the internet, and come and give me a hand in the kitchen."

Mel's sister Steph said...

In a resteraunt recently I exclaimed 'Great cucumber' to my hubby. Sadly, you're wife just topped me in the 'weird stuff people say' charts.

Hedgewizard said...

I've got a better one which I heard from my friend Susan the other day, on her mobile phone after a funeral. We'd got into an argument about who invented the hovercraft (don't ask) so she decided to phone a friend. I could only hear her side of the conversation obviously. "...why does it matter why I want to know? ...No, I am NOT at a pub quiz, I'm at a funeral."

Lesley said...

We love our three compost bins, used in rotation. I crush up eggshells (free range, of course) as well. I can always recognise my home made compost for this reason... eggshells do not degrade (but I think their sharp corners deter slugs who would otherwise have a feast at my expense). However, I still do not have an answer to how compost knows when it is no longer in 'degrading mode' and becomes something in 'feeding mode'... ie why does it not eat my potted seedlings and make them into compost?

antipodesgirl said...

ha ha i just read the other comments and am having a good titter. I just made a post on my own blog because my compost bin (wooden) got a bit exploded by recent high winds, giving me an excellent view inside. My first thought was, "I don't recall putting all that dirt in there" until I realised that the dirt was the compost that was ready... well I did start the compost in January this year so some of it has been then for a year,and I have not really used any of it (a little bucketful when I planted my rhubarb). My OH does think that I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with potato peelings, egg shells and used tea bags but he'll laugh on the other side of his face when the oil runs out :-P

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