I expect that you have guessed that compost is an important part of life at Tyrannell.
Whether it is to make best use of kitchen and garden waste, to put out the least possible amount for the council recycling and rubbish collection or to support growing in the potager, compost is indeed the Great Redeemer. If something has once lived, it can be composted and made to bring new life back to the soil and thence to my vegetables, fruit and herbs.
All the vegetable trimmings are wrapped in a sheet of newspaper and rolled up like a parcel – the paper adds roughage and prevents the compost becoming too wet. Used paper towels go in too, and torn up paper from mailshots and newsletters. Increasingly we are rewarded with rich, moisture retentive material from the large heaps in the potager which smells lovely and looks nothing like the odd assemblage of ingredients.
Two years ago I began to collect fallen leaves in old feed sacks. These take a long time to rot down, but the first of the sacks is looking usable. They are to be mixed with the compost, with the addition of sand in order to lighten the texture and improve drainage.
I am inspired to write about compost for two reasons. One: it is a good excuse to use a lovely picture of dewdrops on a leaf skeleton which I spotted on a damp morning earlier in the week. Two: I read a listener’s tip in a magazine suggesting a way for those with no garden to recycle spent compost from container growing. While I do not fall into the ‘with no garden’ category, I do very much like the suggestion which, translated into my own circumstances, goes like this:–
Empty the contents of some old pots – from last year’s tomatoes, for example - into a strong plastic sack such as one used for animal feed or, indeed, commercial compost. Add several bundles of kitchen waste (not meat) wrapped in newspaper and a layer of well rotted leaf mould. Finish with a layer of sand or gravel.
You will note that there is now, in the sack, something for organic structure, something for plant nutrition and something for good drainage. Tie the sack at the top and leave undisturbed for the rest of the year. When you need it next spring give it a good shake to distribute the contents evenly, throw it flat on the ground, cut two or three crosses in the surface and plant through, just like a grow bag.
I confess that I have only just made my first two bags like this but I feel very confident that this will work well. I’ll post again in a year’s time when I have completed the process and planted out some tomatoes.