Archive for the ‘How To Make Compost’ Category

It really does feel like Spring is in the air this last weekend. The weather on Sunday was gorgeous and the sunshine was just enough to dry the ground out enough to get into the garden.

We had a really productive weekend  which was a mix of manual labour and a slightly gentler activity sowing the first of this seasons Sweet Pea seeds.

It's Time To Sow Sweet Pea Seeds

Had To Relocate The Compost Area …

First priority was to move the compost heaps as we’re constructing a new potting shed and area in the Spring to support the new nursery venture. As you can see from the pics below the new heap is a pretty basic construction made from four posts sunk into the ground about 2.5 meters apart. The sides are made from a few odds and ends of timber we had stashed around the plot.

I think I made my heap too small last time as it never really got that hot, but this time round I’ve made it twice as big and eventually close in the front and add lots of straw into the mix. Should warm things up nicely!

Why Not Build Your Own Compost Heap

First Of The Sweet Pea Sowing’s…

I’m going for a slightly different approach this year with my sweet peas as I’m going to try selling a few bunches on the produce table at the end of the lane. Might also branch out to a view of the local florists if I can grow enough flowers. Something tells me we’re going to need to find a bit more space though.

Brian, one of our avid readers asked what varieties we think make good cut sweet peas? Well I’ve been growing them for a few years now and despite trying various varieties I always come back to the following as they never let me down.

  • Winston Churchill (red)
  • White Supreme (creamy white)
  • Chatsworth (soft purple)

This year I’m also trialling a new variety called Purple Pimpernel which I think could be a winner!

I plant 6-8 seeds on top of the compost in a four inch pot and push the seed in about 1/2 an inch below the surface.  I give the pot a good watering and then leave on the windowsill or in the polytunnel. If you want to speed up the germination add a plastic bag over the top of the pot. I’m not a lover of plastic and try and keep away from the stuff.

The seeds should be through in about 6-8  days when they may need some additional support until they can go out into the ground when all fear of frost has past.

Spring Sweet Pea Sowing

Other sowing’s this weekend …

We’re bulking out with a couple of new Peony  plants, variety is ‘Celebration’ along with a couple of new globe thistles, variety ‘Echinops Nitro’ and Delphinium ‘Pacific Giant Mixed’.

I’ll also sow a few Cosmos and Night Scented Stock later in the year which should produce a wonderful spectacle of cut flowers.

I thought about starting my dahlias off but I think it’s too early as the night time temperature in the Polytunnel can drop quite considerably. I think I’ll wait until early March when the temperature has climbed a tad and we have a few more daylight hours.

My chosen Dahlia varieties for the cut flower garden this year include:

  • Dahlia  ‘Snowflake’ – White Pompon variety
  • Dahlia ‘Bergers Record’ – Deep Red
  • Dahlia ‘Natal’ – Deep red Pompon variety
  • Dahlia ‘My Love’ – White

Sunday evening came around so soon and so ended another busy weekend in the garden.

Next weekend we’re preparing for the arrival of the digger… But more on that later. 😉

Best wishes


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How To Recycle Egg Shells?

We’d love to hear for anyone that has had any success composting used eggshells. We use a lot of eggs in our house and my girls are producing well at the moment, but I just can’t seem to recycle my egg shells. 😦

It’s particularly relevant at the moment as I’m moving my compost heaps to make way for the new shed we’re building.

  • Do they rot down eventually … If so when ?
  • Do they attract rats?
  • Is there anything else we can you do with them?

When I come to turn the heap there they are staring up at me as if to say you have to be joking mate if you think we’re going the way of the rest of the heap!

How To Recycle or  Compost Eggshells

One year on ..

I seem to always end up chucking them in the bin which isn’t exactly very green!

I’ve tried crushing them first and mixing them with some green stuff,  but they are still there a year later, a stringy tangled mess of shell.

Perhaps it takes years before they break down and we’re just impatient?

If you have a compost heap and manage to compost your eggshells can you share your secret.

Thanks all!

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners

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How to make great compost

It’s at this time of the year I turn the compost heap to return some of the nutrients to the soil before autumn and winter sets in.

I’ve been making my own compost for a few years now and it never ceases to amaze me how garden waste turns into the most wonderful garden compost, with a lot of help from the bugs.

Everyone does it differently, but I like to keep three heaps on the go, transferring the compost from one to the other as it decomposes.

How to make your own compost

I don’t use any special techniques but I do tend to alternate layers of green waste with a layer of newspaper and cardboard, to keep the carbon levels up. I tend not to put too many grass clippings on my compost heaps, but the odd bucket full doesn’t hurt. To be on the safe side it’s worth mixing any grass clippings in with the rest of the heap.

If you layer the grass clippings, that’s when it tends to go slimey.

How to make your own compost

After a few months the heap starts to look a bit more like compost, but keep turning it

I try and keep the heap fairly square and flat so it all gets a good soak when the rain comes.  I don’t add any artificial degrading compounds as I don’t think a well managed heap needs it.

How to make your own compost

After about 9 months it’s ready to use!

To make great compost you’re going to need to :

  • Keep it as warm as possible.
  • About every 3 months give the heap a turn to allow the air to circulate.
  • Throw a carpet over the heap to keep the heap warm (Create a safe haven for wild mice in the winter)

Just around the corner from where we live is a farmer that has turned part of his yard into a recycling plant and when you drive past you see the heat coming off the pile. His compost decomposes in no time, which suggests the more heat you can generate the heap will decompose.

I turn my compost about every 3 months, which seems work. The heap in these pics was started about 9 months ago and I’m now using it in my potting compost mix.

Perfect compost every time!

Perfect compost every time!

If you don’t already, try having a go at making your own compost, it’s easy and your plants will be very grateful.

Best wishes

Rural Gardener

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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.

Making your own garden compost

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.

Home made garden compost

Blackbirds Garden Compost Recipe

  • Vegetable waste (uncooked)
  • Egg boxes
  • Fresh or used straw
  • Nettles
  • Egg shells (crushed or they take forever to compost down)
  • Garden clippings/waste with the exception of perennial weeds

Best wishes,


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