1. Have a go at making your own compost.
Each week I’ll post a different tip from my top ten gardening tips for 2011. I hope you find them useful and maybe give some of them a try this year.
The first, and probably the most important in my view, is a compost heap. At Blackbirds we’re lucky to have a large kitchen garden, which in turn produces a fair bit of green waste material, along with the chickens spent straw, makes for a half decent compost mix. If you haven’t made your own compost then I urge you to give it a go as it’s really easy and you don’t need anything fancy.
The compost heap at Blackbirds is a basic box construction made from 4 posts, which are stuck in the ground with a few old feather boards for the sides. I like to leave a reasonable space between the boards so the air can circulate, which aids the composting process. However, you can always substitute the boards for chicken wire, which works just as well!
I tend to throw pretty much everything onto the compost heap, with the exception of cooked food. Cooked food on a compost heap attracts rats, and should be avoided. After a while, if you only throw vegetable waste onto your heap your compost it can become slimy and way too rich in nitrogen. To avoid this I like to add a layer of cardboard and straw to boost the carbon content, and it helps to warm the heap, which is essential to the composting process. One tip my father gave me years ago is to add a thin layer of well rotted horse manure to introduce bacteria to the heap, which speeds up the whole process.
I try to turn my heap every 6-8 weeks to ensure the bacteria spreads throughout the heap. After 6 months we have the most gorgeous garden compost, which I either dig straight into the veg patch or use as a light mulch…as with these red cabbage plants from last summer.
Blackbirds Garden Compost Recipe
- Vegetable waste (uncooked)
- Egg boxes
- Fresh or used straw
- Egg shells (crushed or they take forever to compost down)
- Garden clippings/waste with the exception of perennial weeds