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Making compost

There is a disagreement going on locally which I hope those of you experienced at making compost could comment on.

Someone has created a 'compost heap' by upending some pallets to create an enclose with the front open completely.
Into this they have deposited all their grass cuttings and weeds to create a contained pile of 1cubis mtr of these 'ingredients', and then left them to 'compost. They have added nothing else but grass cuttings and weeds, with the odd few stalks from pruning or dead heading, and have not touched the content other than to add to it.

Since they started this in the spring, all that has appeared to happen is that there is a rotting grass smell when the wind is in the right direction.

When someone commented on their efforts they simply said tha 'composting takes time and it'll all be good garden food next spring.

Are their comments correct, or are they just going to end up with a pile mulched rotted grass etc which will be unsuitable to add to the borders.


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,201
    If they leave it long enough it will all rot down - but it will take much longer than a properly layered and managed compost heap.

    In the meantime the grass will probably go slimy and be smelly (as you know) and be unpleasant to handle.

    So - unless they just happen to be a bit lucky - most of it won't be usable compost by spring (there might be a bit at the bottom) - but it will get there eventually.

    It doesn't matter that the heap is open to the elements although some sort of cover does help to retain the heat and speed up the process.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,653
    All that soft green matter will become anaerobic and take forever to rot down and will be a nasty slimey mess till it does.  The process and thus results can be both improved and speeded up by mixing layers of green waste with layers of carbon so dead stems, shredded bark and twigs, paper, cardboard straw.

    Turning occasionally also helps so it either needs to be tipped out, stirred up and put back again to help aerate and heat up or it can just be turned into a second, adjacaent bin.   The heating process can also be helped by having a closed front and a lid.  Some moisture is needed so check occasionally and, if necessary, leave the lid up in a good downpour and then close it again.  Male urine or bought ammonia based accelerator also help the composting process.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • peweukpeweuk Posts: 33
    Thanks for that input.

    So if the pile is left as it is, any idea how long the breakdown to compost will take?
    The current size of the pile after one seasons collection (April until Early November) is at present 3 metres long, 1 metre high and 1 metre deep - a lot of grass cutting.

    If it is likely that any decomposed material is not likely to be usable compost until next Autumn, it means that they will need to set aside an area of at least the same size for need seasons cuttings - and they ain't got the room.
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,219
    All very true, but it does not matter if they intend digging it into the soil. Even if it is still a slimy mess, that may be dug in and it will then continue to decompose in the soil. In the days when we had a small garden with no room for a three bin system I often just dug raw undecomposed material into the soil. It did the job just the same and disappeared very quickly as the worms and bacteria and fungus got to work on it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,016
    Is the area on their property @peweuk?

    There isn't much you can do if it is. As already said - it's not ideal as a compost heap, but it will eventually rot.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • peweukpeweuk Posts: 33
    Thanks for your thoughts folks.

    @Fairygirl It is not their land, it is part of the community open space on our small development, and the people 'managing' the grounds, who admit they are amateurs, have decided to create a 'compost heap' to save disposing of the grass cuttings in any other way.
    PS. Very appropriate slogan you use for your part of the world.

    @Pulistris - digging raw waste into your own border is fine, that' your choice. However I'm sure that  a number of residents would feel that doing so in borders on common open space without first consulting residents would be a bit rich.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,016
    Ahh- perhaps they just need a wee bit of extra advice then @peweuk. Maybe direct them here  ;)
    Very kind of you, but I can't lay claim to the little caption - it's the Big Yin's  :)
    Photo's one of mine though.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • peweukpeweuk Posts: 33
    Ahh, the Big Yin. We saw him live in Bristol - just the once but so memorable.

    Yes our Gardening Club does need educating - but won't admit it.
    I'm on the case and  - Slowly slowly catchee monkey
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,585
    why not have a gardening club meeting and show them some you tube videos? Charles Dowding has great compost making videos
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