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Composting Everything.

At home I have been removing a Privet Hedge, (Ligustrum) from my front garden, that had caused disputes in the past between a neighbour and previous owners of my house. My reason for removing it was not really because of this though, but because I found that it was diseased and dying from something nasty like Honey Fungus, (which Privet is susceptible to) or possibly Phytophthora, that seems to be spreading everywhere. I might have tried to treat it with Jeyes Fluid, or Amillatox, but the disease could have easily spread all through the hedges down the road while I was trying this and successful treatment of such problems is not promising anyway. I decided not to shred and Compost the hedge on my allotment, because the infection could have spread to my Bay Trees, Fruit Bushes, Fruit Trees, or indeed many other plants up there, both on my plot and other peoples. Consequently, I chopped it up a little with my Loppers and disposed of it all safely at the Council Recycling Centre.
In the process of restructuring my back garden at home, I did have lot of Conifer prunings, which I did decide to compost. There was an awful lot to dispose of all at once and I realised that not only does conifer take a long time to rot, but also, it would do better with other rubbish mixed in with it. So, to start with, I tipped the shreddings out of the bags and into my open compost bin to allow them to get wet from the rain.

With Winter approaching it was time to start tidying up my plot ready for the dormant period when not much would be happening on the Allotments. Some weeks earlier the wind had blown my Runner Beans down a bit and as they had nearly finished anyway, they were the first plants to be cleared up. I picked any good Beans that remained and the rest went in the compost. Some people wait for the seed in the last few pods to mature and then they keep it for sowing next season, but I donít generally bother. When clearing them up - if you had tied the plants and canes up with soft, natural string (rather than nylon plastic) you wouldnít need to fish it out as it will rot. It is best to put the shears over the plants though, to speed up composting. My Courgette and Squash plants had been taken by the colder weather a couple of weeks ago as well, so those were next to go into my compost heap and be mixed in with the Conifer. My Jerusalem Artichokes had started to flower recently, which was a sign that the plants were mature with good tubers underground. The first real frosts took their tops as well, so they were chopped down with Loppers and chopped up so that they could be added to the compost mix. They always seem to be too woody to rot well, but they do. Elsewhere on my plots I have started to clear up the last few weeds before they die off and drop their seeds. The old saying is (One years seeds, Five years Weeds!) They are all being added to the heap. There is lots that can be composted in the Autumn, although, leaves are best composted separately as they take much longer to properly decompose. It may be colder over winter, but the Compost will continue rotting slowly and by Spring it will be well on its way and should be ready to use come April/May. I will turn it occasionally, through the Winter, when the weather isnít too bad. When it does get very wet it is a good idea to cover the Heap with something like old plastic bags to stop it from getting sodden. Lots of people use pieces of old carpet and even cardboard boxes that wonít keep off so much water, but will keep out the flying weed seeds and are said to keep in the heat that is generated by composting.

Something else I did was to cut down my Autumn Raspberries. These can be left until late Winter, or early Spring, but if they are done about now it prevents the Winter Storms from rocking the plants loose. Often I bin the prunings as any spoilt fruit that is left on the stems will be full of seeds that can germinate and be a nuisance, but this year I decided to chop them and Compost them to increase the mixture in my heap.

As the Winter sets in there will be less good weather when I can get up to my Allotment, so all of the tidying up is now quite urgent. There will still be a few jobs that can be done on the better days though and one that I will be looking forwards to is putting in another raised bed around a small flower patch. The area has always been difficult to keep tidy, but I am hoping that the raised bed will make it easier to weed, because the soil wonít get compacted by constant walking on when the flowers are picked. Then as we go into January there will be less and less I can do on my plots. 


 

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