Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let The Composting Begin

Have never really attempting the whole composting thing.  Obviously, as anyone in the shade knows, I tend to have plenty of leaves available by the start of winter.  In the past, I have typically mowed them up with a lawnmower, and then spread the remains about as mulch.

But have never gathered the shredded leaves in an attempt to produce compost.  So this year I thought I'd at least create a temporary structure and see what this whole composting fuss was all about.

I collected some extra wood I had about along with some chicken wire.

Next I hammered the poles into the ground - not very deep cuz one usually runs into limestone pretty quick in these parts.

Then I attached the chicken wire to the poles creating a small, flimsy structure to enclose the leaves.

From what I've read, once the plant material has been gathered, composting will occur regardless of what one does.  But composting does best if provided warmth, moisture, rotation and a good mixture of greens/browns.

Warmth: The recommendation is to place the compost bin in the sunshine to speed things up.  Welp, that ain't happening - this is the shady garden, not the sunny one.  It's my understanding this will slow things down but not stop them.

Moisture: It'll get that when it rains or the sprinkler system throws some its way - that should be sufficient.

Rotation: Hmm, that's starting to sound suspiciously like work.  Maybe I'll stick a garden fork in there every once in a while and stir the pot.  And maybe I won't.

Mixture: Hey, around this household, you eat what's put on your plate.  There'll be some greens, but the vast majority will be brown, fallen leaves (with some yellow, fallen leaves thrown in for good measure).

We'll just have to see how this works out.  Already have ideas in my head for a nice-looking, more permanent structure.  But time will tell.

Planted in the Ground:
  • Coral Bells 'Caramel' (Heuchera villosa 'Caramel'): Has been on my Gotta Get list and finally discovered them for a fair price; placed three along my garden path.  Not nearly as bronze as expected - hoping maybe its the new growth that produces that color (otherwise they may have been mislabeled - and that will make me grumpy)

Planted in Pots:
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): Added some red ones to a pot; did not realize they weren't cold-hardy here and might need some protection (well, poo).


  1. Well you certainly deserve a pat on the back for trying it! I never have, I just don't have a place to set up the whole compost thing. It's a major sin in Portland (and especially as a gardener) to admit that you don't compost. Almost like driving a Hummer (I don't).

  2. In my mini garden (I have a lot of shade too), I set up a compost bin made out of a large blue Rubber Maid type container with a lid and holes drilled in. Mostly I throw in yard waste, some newspapers, and if something goes bad before we get to eat it. I never bother to turn it or give it extra water. Slowly but surely I still get compost :)

  3. Best compost wishes!
    It's a yearly tradition in my garden, except I'm using a pit/vermiculture type set up. I would recommend a minimum of one cubic yard as your measurement to keep things heated up. If you are letting nature do all the work (which takes longer, but works fine) the dimensions don't matter. I haven't posted pictures of my compost set up because it's hard to see the dimensions of a hole. You did a good job showing people the step by step. Thanks.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  4. danger: Will be interesting to see how it all turns out (hopefully it'll all turn out as compost).

    Tina: That's encouraging - that's kinda what I'm hoping (throw stuff in, ignore it, come back & get my compost!)

    David: Good to know. Once its full, looks like mine will be more than a cubic yard - so I think I'm good there. Had not even heard of a "pit/vermiculture type" - of course, with my limestone, I won't be digging a cubic yard sized hole anyway (even thinking about that makes me want to take a nap)!