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Cambridge Botanical Gardens (Compost Corner) 1


By balcony


Cambridge Botanical Gardens – (Compost Corner)

Follow me around the compost corner to learn a bit about composting – even if you already compost your garden waste here you will find different methods of doing it that you might find interesting or might be tempted to give a go!

I’m going to copy the text on the panels I photographed as it is almost impossible to read them as I had hoped when taking the photos. This will lead to several blogs which I hope you will find of help.

What is a compost heap? A pile of old rot!

When plants & animals die, they rot & the materials they are made of are returned to the earth. This natural process is called decomposition. The resulting compost enriches the soil, helping new plants to grow.

Decomposition is an essential part of the cycle of life.

What are the benefits of composting?

You can take advantage of waste plant material & recycle for free.
You will boost the fertility of your garden soil.
You can help by reducing the amount of waste that is buried in landfill sites.

How does composting work?

It’s the activity of bacteria that kickstarts decomposition in the compost heap. Like people, bacteria need air, water & food (biodegradable material) if these are available in your heap, bacteria will multiply at amazing speed releasing heat – that’s why heaps get warm.

Keep your heap damp, adding water if needed & aerated by turning it. You’ll soon have soil enriching compost.

A balanced diet

When building your heap, or adding to it over time, aim for an even mix of of greens to browns (See next column)

Remember that composting is not an exact science, & you will quickly become your own expert.

Yes, please!

A compost heap needs activators to rot down vegetable waste quickly. They are called Greens & contain a lot of nitrogen. These include vegetable & fruit peelings, grass, dead flowers, young weeds & soft green material.

Tough or woody plant materials are slow to rot & are best shredded or chopped. They are called Browns & contain a lot of carbon. Browns include shrub & hedge trimmings, straw & hay from pet hutches, scrunched up paper, cardboard, toilet rolls & cardboard egg boxes.

No, thanks

Meat & cooked food are slow to decompose & can attract pests like rats. Don’t add cat litter, dog faeces, disposable nappies, plastic material, glass or things that won’t decompose. Look out instead for recycling schemes that take glass, metal cans & plastic bottles.

Avoid perennial weeds like bindweed, ground elder or couch grass, which can be persistent & survive the composting process.

Are you cool? Cool composting

We start with cool composting as it is a simple method & takes least effort. It suits small to medium-sized gardens.

It’s in the mix

A compost bin is easy to make or buy. Add various materials over time, aiming for an equal balance of greens & browns. There’s no need to turn the heap.

Don’t let the pile dry out, keep it damp by adding water as necessary, including more greens like grass cuttings in your mix helps.

Slow compost

The cool method can take up to a year to make compost. For faster compost consider hot composting or buying a converter.

I’ll have to continue in a 2nd blog as this is getting to be too long!

More blog posts by balcony

Previous post: Autumn Colours in 2010

Next post: Cambridge Botanical Gardens (Compost Corner) 2



It may be long Balcony, but it is one of my favourite subjects........ I really need to get out more!!

15 Nov, 2010


I like this very muchly.

15 Nov, 2010


Thanks for the information. It's interesting to read.

15 Nov, 2010


Very good information, Balcony. Thank you for taking the time to re-write it all for us. Will be looking out for the next installment.

16 Nov, 2010


Simply put, Interesting, informative and accurate. Probably the most important aspect of gardening. We should all talk 'rot' more often, Thank you.

16 Nov, 2010


How helpful - keep'em coming. :-)))

16 Nov, 2010


Interesting and helpful, thanks.

16 Nov, 2010


Thanks Balcony.....

16 Nov, 2010


interestiing blog Balcony thank you..

16 Nov, 2010


Waiting for my "bin2 to be delivered Balcony, so this is a great help, thanks. I expect your wrist is aching after a long blog, just take your time. Will look out for next installment.

16 Nov, 2010


WOW! You have taken me by surprise! I didn't expect so many enthusiastic replys!

The next one I hope to do for tomorrow.

16 Nov, 2010


I'll be waiting for the next installment Balcony! You didn't know we'd all be interested in a load of "rot" ;-)

16 Nov, 2010


just benifiting from a long compost and getting a drum soon.
thanks for the info

16 Nov, 2010


You're welcome, PD! Next one will be up shortly.

I'm glad you're all so interested in a "load of old rot"! More "rotten" blogs coming your way! ;-D

17 Nov, 2010


This has been a very welcome refresher "course". Many Thanks! :-))

18 Nov, 2010


very interesting . am new to this subjust

18 Nov, 2010


Glad to be of help, David. A refresher course is always good as we all need "refreshing" from time to time.

Cristina, I hope you will learn something about composting from these blogs. We gardeners are the best "Recyclers" in the world! We are always on the look out of how to reuse something.

20 Nov, 2010


Great Blog Mr Balcony. I must get to Cambridge Botanical gardens more often...they're only five miles away from here!
Compost is KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

26 Nov, 2010


Thank you Benjiboy. Pleased you liked it!

It takes us about an hour by bus from close to our flat to Cambridge. If I lived a lot closer I'd go a lot more often!

We could do with tons of compost or manure for the allotment & this is my first attempt in donkey's year at making compost! Practically all my adult life I've lived in flats either in Spain or, for the last 9 years, here, in the UK.

27 Nov, 2010


yes interesting information... nice that you shared insightful things.... makes inspirations...

12 Sep, 2013


So glad you, too, Jane, found this blog of interest! I was taken quite by surprise at the number of Goyers who responded telling me they liked it!

I like my blogs to be informative if I can or at least be of interest. I don't like posting just a bunch of pictures with no explanation! I hope I don't come over as being "long-winded"!

19 Sep, 2013


organic gardening most important thing is its soil according to prince Charles.....

19 Sep, 2013


I try to incorporate garden compost & horse manure in our allotments as they all need lots of organic material. The soil dries out very quickly in warm/hot weather & I have to water a lot!

It can be worked very well after rain, while it isn't much, as the soil is quite thin & has lots of stones in it. Some plots look like the south coast beaches with all the stones they have! Fortunately neither Gerry's 1 & 1/2 nor my 1/2 plots have that many stones!

23 Sep, 2013


small stones tho help keep it airy tho... is that right.... not in compost so much...obv but in the soil its put on....or have i lost the

23 Sep, 2013

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