Yes, this is a post about compost, no, I’m not going to apologise for it – it’s probably the first of many.  I’m turning into a weird compost geek.  Today one of my colleagues mentioned his neighbour likes to cut other peoples’ lawns – “Oh,” said I “does he have a compost heap?” – because clearly I can see that sort of behaviour being totally plausible in the quest for more compostable materials.

So anyway, I built not one, but two, compost bins and I’m planning a third – so I can run the “three bin” compost system.  I’ve read a ridiculous amount of (often contradictory) information on such topics as hot versus cold heaps, how often you should turn your heap, how much water does your heap need and the correct ‘recipe’ of carbons (browns) and nitrogen (greens).

I built the first bin Easter weekend in an almost entirely Agile manner (to borrow a buzzword from my day job) and like the output of an Agile project I managed to make something which does the job for the limited materials I had (two pallets) but is not pretty to look at.  I got a couple more palettes the next weekend and added another pen to the side.  In an ideal world I’d like beehive style composters but frankly I wasn’t about to spend a fortune on wood just to make compost – perhaps I’ll upgrade in the future.

I’m boring myself now so here’s some photos (all over which were taken on my phone so apologies for the quality). Here’s compost bin number one:

one compost

I probably should have explained why I even need a compost bin – basically the garden is like a jungle – and I’m only succumbing to hyperbole slightly here, for example, I noticed a whole lot of little seedlings appearing in the grass like this:

sycamore sapling

How exciting I thought, I wonder what they are – a week of so later realisation hit me… they’re sycamore saplings.  If I did nothing about them there is a possibility the lawn would actually turn into a forest! I’m still generally leaving the garden alone this year to see what comes up and what flowers but there have been a few things which I thought I could fairly safely prune back – so I was ending up with piles like this (this is a small pile).


I bought a second hand garden shredder so I could make it into this:


Which I then added to my compost pen (yes, there are two now and I turned it so it is all in the second one).  All the stuff in that bin has come from the garden – I’ve not added anything.  The bins aren’t finished yet – once I’ve got the third one up I’ll makes some sort of front which lifts off and a lid to keep the rain off but in the meantime part of a pallet and some planks will do.

compost before

The above photo shows the pile on Saturday – and here it is on Wednesday!

compost after

See how much it has composted already?  It’s crazy – it’s super hot inside and there’s lots of a grey ashy substance which at first I thought was due to it burning – but it’s no way near that hot, it’s just the actinomycetes (bacteria) doing their thing 🙂

Honestly – compost… hours of fun!


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