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compost heap

I started a compost heap last spring - i layered green and brown and also used cardboard in between. 1.1/2 years later it’s still not very broken down. Is there anything i can do to speed it up? I am running out of space and would love to use it next spring latest. 


  • I have had a similar problem but I used compost bins.
    I think I have definitely not watered mine enough and I don't know if it matters if it's in shade?
    I know I'm not being much help to you though. 
  • Have you been turning it to aerate  it?

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,052
    Yes - keeping it dampened in dry spells will help, but so does turning it frequently. It just gets everything mixed together. If you can cover it, that might get a bit more heat into it which can help too, although the process of being broken down isn't just because of warmth. 
    I don't have much room either, and it's very awkward to get in and turn it, so mine takes longer too.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • how often do you turn it? I may turned it 6 times in the last year….
    So even it takes long there is still hope i have nice soil at some point? 
  • I have also started to make sure that the stiff that goes in is much smaller to start with. 
    This site is very good for making me feel a bit better and that I'm not the only one who can't always get it right. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,052
    Yes - it will eventually break down and be usable, even if it doesn't look perfect  :)
    You're right @alfharris8 - shredding or chopping larger pieces of material can help enormously. 
    Leaves are also a great resource at this time of year - but most tree foliage takes longer to break down, so if you can't have a separate heap for making leaf mould, you can shred them and add to the compost bin  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • The standard advice about adding in layers doesn't work so well in a small heap. If you can mix the materials as you add them it's much better.  If you have some fresh grass clippings or shredded prunings,  take everything out mix in the fresh material and throw it  all back in.  It should heat up and rot much better. 
    AB Still learning

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,882
    Yes the main keys to success are sufficient quantities of a nice mix of well chopped / shredded greens and browns kept damp (not wet - just damp).

    I only turn my compost bin once during the process because I am but a weak and feeble woman - and they're big bins & it's quite hard work.When a bin is empty I turn a 'fresh' bin into it and then leave it to cook while I start refilling the just emptied bin. 

    Turning more frequently helps speed the process but isn't essential.

    It takes me 6 to 12 months to produce usable mulching compost so stuff I put in the bin late last season is now well rotted and definitely ready for use - and even the stuff from spring this year is nearly usable. 
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,809
    All of the above - mix up the materials, tear up the cardboard into small bits and mix with grass clippings or other soft green stuff, keep it damp but protect from heavy rain so it doesn't get too wet, and turn it if you can, or poke a stick or something in and try to agitate it a bit and let air in. I have one of these but it's a bit awkward to use in a bin - might be easier in an open-sided heap (other sellers around, price varies enormously so shop around if you want one).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Most of the problems I've seen in picture form have been heaps that are way too dry especially in the covered dalek type bins. Mow, shred, chop or just bash up the material going into the heap, I let cardboard get wet in the rain or dew before mowing it up but just tearing it apart helps loads. Lots of people don't want to put grass into their compost but it really helps. Turning helps but if you are just aiming at annual compost production then it's not as essential. Keep at it remember all material will rot down on the end as that's just nature 
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