This year I have been going to ground. I have been paying attention to soil. I ask for a lot from my garden, and I can’t keep taking, taking, taking. I have to give back. So this year’s focus has been compost. Over the year, I’ve developed a closed system – using everything in the immediate vicinity that I can use to bulk up and nourish the soil. This requires space. Below is my composting area, near the back of the house in a North-facing space where there is little light. It is not a productive growing area. It’s handy to access because it is right in front of the back door where we exit from the kitchen.
I have two ‘dalek’ bins from the council. We use the one nearest to the back door as our current bin to empty kitchen scraps and to collect garden ‘waste’. The second bin (by the fence) is my ‘turning’ bin. This is where the compost breaks down. Every couple of months, I empty the contents of the turning bin into one of the big green bags on the floor. The bin is then empty, ready for me to turn the compost into from our current bin. Wearing a big pair of red rubber workmans’ gloves, I lift the whole bin off the heap out of the way and scoop the pile of contents with my hands into the turning bin. This is more gentle on the worms than using a spade or fork. I can break up clumps and crush eggshells with my hands. It is messy and slimy, wiggly and wonderful. If it gets a bit too wet, I add shredded paper. If it is too dry, I add a layer of grass clippings. I can’t get enough of grass clippings. The black bin liner which is shoved through the fence is for my neighbours. They happily donate their grass clippings, which I find dumped over our fence in the bin liner. I empty it and give them the liner back. They love this, because it saves them a trip to the tip. I love it, because it gives me nutritious biomass and compost activator for my heaps. The soil loves it too. Everybody is happy.