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composting failure

owd potterowd potter Posts: 884
edited March 2019 in Problem solving
Was intending to mulch my borders this afternoon using garden compost made last year, only to find that it hasn't composted, and it is basically a pile of dry grass and leaves.
I used a standard plastic garden composting bin and thought that I had been quite diligent with layering of green and brown materials and also watered it occasionally.
The bin stands in shade and the lid has been mostly kept on.
What did I do or not do wrong?

Just another day at the plant...


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,719
    I'd say not enough moisture. 
    Stick it back in and water it. It'll get going again.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,131
    edited March 2019
    Too dry.  Last summer's hot weather will have dried it out faster than normal and would have meant that the grass clippings had less moisture in them than usual to start with. A bit of soil helps, to introduce wee beasties, bacteria etc that help the composting process, but what's on the roots of weeds etc is probably enough.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • owd potterowd potter Posts: 884
    Thanks guys,
    That does make sense Jenny when I think about it. 
    We are paying for that good summer now in unexpected ways…

    Just another day at the plant...
  • StevedaylillyStevedaylilly Posts: 1,087
    edited March 2019
    i would give it a good mix up and water in but do not over water as this will cause a much of a problem as it drying out. I wouldn’t mix any tree leaves in to the mix as they decompose at a different rate. Normally garden compost imo need a bit of time to decompose. I have 2 large bins. One was filled up from March to September of last year and the other from September to March of this year.
    That means that last years compost has been decomposing is ready to be used now 
    You can accelerate the composting rate by using compost maker but normally under normal circumstances a 12 month period gives you a good yield
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,363
    Once you get the balance right you will make compost very quickly, we make enough in the year to cover all the borders in our garden by the winter, we have a 2 month turn over. The leaves have kept it dry, you usually put those somewhere separate. 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • owd potterowd potter Posts: 884
    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions.
    Since starting off compost last year in the plastic bin I have also constructed a second bin from old pallets which is open to the weather and which I was thinking would provide me with alternating sources for compost. I have also made a leaf basket intended to collect my leaves for leaf mould, but which may not be large enough I have found.
    So I have some options now but what would be the best way to utilise them?
    Should I water and return the failed compost into the existing bin, or include it in the new pallet bin and then restart afresh into the plastic bin. Or should I use the plastic bin for leaves (I do get a lot of leaves) 

    Just another day at the plant...
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Posts: 2,466
    edited March 2019
    Were there any worms in your compost?
    They help in the decomposing process so if too dry they may have been absent.
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • owd potterowd potter Posts: 884
    I did not see any. Just dry vegetation.
    But I only extracted a couple of shovels worth from the access port. 
    Just another day at the plant...
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Our closed plastic "dalek" did just the same. I have now started watering it and am hoping something will happen. Our wooden bins, which will get wet when it rains (not that it did much last year) are doing a lot better.
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