BlueWisteria.co.uk for down to earth gardening information.
Moriati's Composting Method.
No more excuses. Find out what needs to be done this month to keep your garden neat and tidy.
Specific Gardening tasks.
Find out how to make the finest garden compost using the minimum of effort and money. This article remains pretty much in its original form as it appeared in 1998 apart from the gradual addition of photos. Moriati not only invented this method of composting, he is also responsible for the now common term 'Green Dalek'.
Edges of the lawn can make or break the beauty of your garden. Learn how to make nice edges to your lawn in this step-by-step guide.
Don't you just love them. One minute they look lovely on the trees, next they are all over the garden. The only easy way to deal with this is to pay someone else to do it, but why do so many folks insist on making the task as hard as possible for themselves? Get clued up.
Wisteria is one of those plants that when grown well is a classical show stopper, but in the wrong hands can stubbornly refuse to flower.
Hydrangea plants require complex pruning once a year if they are to be a real asset to the garden. Step-by-step guide with photos.
Tools of the Trade.
Caring for Lawns.
Caring for Hedges.
Moriati's compost making method.
"Making compost". Such a simple task, yet more garbage is spoken about composting than actually gets composted.
There's expensive bins, some of them pretty, and there's "high tech" bins. Green Daleks without the laser gun that I can never get the lid off, rotating tumblers for those people with nothing to do, and most common of all: A large festering pile of rubbish thrown in a corner
Adding to the confusion is the bewildering array of essential additives to make it all work. Commercial bins all have the same inherent problems; They are far too small and are always difficult to use.
The ingredients of good compost production.
- Air. Without ventilation all you get is a pong.
- Heat. The engine of the whole process.
- Vegetation. A by-product of gardening.
- Moisture. Even compost needs a drink.
- Time. Good things come to those who wait.
- Stirring. The bit I'm good at.
The Moriati Composter.
(Nothing to pay)
Nowadays your friendly local builder gets his sand delivered in large non-returnable bags that are perfect for the job of holding garden compost. These bags are very strong and don't rot. Best of all though, They're free. Always ask before taking them though, otherwise you may end up getting more than a free sandbag from Bob the Builder. This is not the smartest kit in Town therefore some initiative may be required to disguise them. (Old fence panels will do the job nicely).
What to put in?
- Grass cuttings.
- Leaves & sweepings.
- Soft weeds.
- Non-woody hedge trimmings.
- rotten fruit.
- Vegetable waste from the kitchen.
- Any other garden waste, not listed below.
What not to put in?
- Animal products. Meat, fat, bones etc.
- Lumps of wood, thick branches.
- Rose prunings and other spiky things.
- Perennial weed roots. e.g. Bindweed, ground elder, couch grass.
- Non- organic rubbish. (Tin cans, plastic bottles, plant pots/labels, glass, stones etc.
How to do it.
When setting up a bag for the first time, make sure that the site is reasonably level and clear of obstructions. If perennial weeds are a problem, lay some Landscaping Weed Barrier cloth under the bag. As I mentioned earlier, these bags are somewhat lacking in good looks, therefore a screen may be required to hide their presence. Make sure you leave sufficient room to get easy access, as the compost will need to be carted out again once processing is finished.
Fill it up.
(No time to waste)
Don't mess about. As suitable material comes in, so it goes in. If you mow the lawn, tip the contents of the grass box into the bag. After weeding the border or raking the leaves just gather it all up and feed the bag. As the fresh compost goes in, level it off, making sure it gets into the corners of the bag. Initially, the bag will fill up at an alarming rate but do not worry. After a few weeks, the level will drop almost as fast as extra material is added. Do not worry about a balanced mixture. Just Fill the Bag
Simmer for 6 Months at Gas Mark 4.
Periodically firm it all down into the bag. Reasonably fit people could stand on top of the heap to tread the compost into the bag. A convenient handle has been placed in each corner to assist this process. It's more a case of pulling the bag up rather than compacting the contents.
Eventually, a point will be reached when no more can be squeezed into the bag. Now is a good time to start a new bag rather than trying to pile more on top. Cover it over with some old carpet and leave it in peace for 5 or 6 Months. During this time, the contents will diminish to much less than half a bag full. No matter how tempting it is, Do not add fresh compost to this diminished pile.
Time to do a turn.
If space is at a premium, you can now use most of this as a course mulch between the shrubs. Much better results will be achieved if it is tipped out and stirred up a bit. Any really raw and un-composted material should be transferred to the bag currently receiving the fresh material. Note. Do not add fresh compost to the maturing heap. It is quite all right to do the reverse by adding poorly composted material to the fresh heap. Break up any packed lumps with a fork and put it back for another 2 or 3 months or until required. (I normally fork it straight from one bag into another, loosening and grading as I go). we're not looking for perfection here. 30 - 40 mins max. If your garden is very large and more than one bag is at the same stage, these may be combined into one full bag to save space.
Waste not, want not.
While the compost is maturing, there are a few bonus points to bear in mind;
* Take advantage of the huge amounts of heat that are produced. Utilize this during the Winter months to store Dahlia tubers and the like, in a frost free environment.
* Compost that is nearly ready to use may be utilized as a giant flowerpot. Photo shows a young pumpkin plant and a row of cuttings.
Why it works so well!
Look closely at the bags and you will notice that they are not solid. The bags are made of panels of woven plastic, sewn up to make a big sack. Each bag is designed with a safe working load of 1 Ton, and is more than adequate for garden use. The woven material lets the air in and surplus water out, maintaining a perfect balance of both. The size is just about right. Too much bigger and the weight of vegetation would pack down tight and suffocate the army of helpers (bugs). Just a bit smaller, and they would just be a waste of space.
Shortly after setup, the bag will become a hive of activity almost like a big city. This is no place for the squeamish, as from nowhere, the pile becomes invaded by armies of worms, slugs, woodlice, beetles, fungi and bacteria. These all work together doing what nature intended, chewing and shredding, processing and refining the vegetation for you. As more fodder is added, the little munchkins move up the pile leaving the fungi and bacteria behind to finish off the job.
No additives are required. It's all in the Bag.
A favour returned.
Remember Bob the Builder who gave you the bags? He's got into a bad habit of abandoning the last sandbag still with some sand left in it. Soft sand is no use to us (unless you need to repair some brickwork). Ballast, the stuff with big stones in it is no use to us (except to repair the concrete floor). However, if Bob has abandoned some Sharp or coarse sand then it's time to return a favour and clear it away for him.
Icing on the cake.
Take some mature compost in a tub and add some of this sand. (The ratio will vary depending on your requirements). Now give the mixture a really big stir while removing any twigs and other debris.
You're now in possession of potting compost better than anything on sale at the Garden Centre. What's more, it is Peat Free. (Unless you threw some into the heap).
Each sandbag used can produce up to 450 litre of this finest compost every year, and the icing on the cake: It's Free.
What we have produced is compost and should not be confused with fertilizer. While there is a fair amount of nutrition contained within the compost, this should not be used instead of fertilizer. Applying the raw compost on the flowerbeds as a top dressing has many benefits:
- Organic matter returned to the soil.
- Improves appearance of flowerbeds.
- Retains moisture during dry spells.
- Acts as a blanket during Winter months..
- Saves the hassle of burning or dumping loads of rubbish.
Your plants will still need fertilizer.
The addition of some sharp sand produces very good quality potting compost. Whilst this is ideal for potting on strong seedlings or rooted cuttings, larger potted plants will require additional food supplies. Bear in mind also that the compost is not sterile and as such, should not be used for seed sowing. Converting this compost to seed compost would require sieving and sterilizing. I do not consider this to be practical on a back garden scale of operation, but if any enterprising souls succeed, please let me know your method.
Start composting today and save the planet. and a few £ ¥ € too.