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Composting in a small garden

29 replies

Lafoosa · 17/02/2020 11:51

Hi everyone,
We have quite a small enclosed garden and would love to start composting.
However I've never composted before and don't know where to begin.

Do I need a certain container to compost with? Is there a certain way you do it to make sure unwanted critters aren't attracted to your garden?
We can't use things like rat poison or anything like that because we have cats and I also wouldn't want to just kill rats.
We also have a toddler so any way of making it so she can't play in the compost pile would be great.

Thanks ๐Ÿ˜Š

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PigeonofDoom · 26/02/2020 18:52

I get the smaller, stripey worms in the hotbin in winter (itโ€™s a bit too hot in summer). They love it! They all hangout at the top.

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picklemewalnuts · 26/02/2020 15:24

I don't- I'm not convinced it's good. I did some reading when I started and it suggested that so called worm tea is (blah blah blah- not good). Sorry I can't remember the issue. Something about a sign or anaerobic activity, acidic, something or other.

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BiffKipperAndTwattingChip · 26/02/2020 14:51

How do you get the liquid out of a homemade wormery? I was hoping to use it for food for indoor plants.

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picklemewalnuts · 26/02/2020 13:47

I might try an open system alongside my existing wormery. I'll have a look in the garage and see what old pots I have. I might try a sealed transparent one, too. Just to see what the worms get up to!

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picklemewalnuts · 26/02/2020 13:45

I'm with you, Dint. There really isn't left over food. It all gets recycled. I serve up a portion size that's almost certain to be eaten, with seconds for those who'd like more.

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MereDintofPandiculation · 26/02/2020 13:43

Special 'bought' worms tend to be faster at the job than ordinary garden worms. You can find your own worms, but you'd need to try and find the particular ones that will like the wormery lifestyle! Special bought worms are UK natives, but they're worms that like a high level of humus, rather than the Lumbricus type which are in ordinary garden soil. Worms breed very quickly, so if you have your compost heap open to the soil the "special" worms will arrive and breed very rapidly. But probably easier to buy if you have an enclosed system, although you could try talking to a friend who has a compost heap and take a handful of her worms.

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MereDintofPandiculation · 26/02/2020 13:40

Rats would probably find leftover spag bol or sunday lunch appealing. But no more appealing that discarded fruit or any of various other uncooked food wastes. Though leftover spag bol or sunday lunch is not a concept I understand - my family have learnt that if it doesn't get eaten at this meal, it will reappear in disguise later in the week Grin

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picklemewalnuts · 26/02/2020 13:23

The drainage holes are too small, they only let water out. The worms stay within the dark moist soil/decaying scraps.

Special 'bought' worms tend to be faster at the job than ordinary garden worms. You can find your own worms, but you'd need to try and find the particular ones that will like the wormery lifestyle! Over time it sort of evens out, I'm not sure what lives in there now, it's been 8 years or so. There's plenty of them and I don't look too closely!

I've got a bought wormery, but I run a simple one alongside it for when I'm running out of space. With hindsight I'd have a three bin system like with compost bins. Much easier than the trays I mess about with.

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BiffKipperAndTwattingChip · 26/02/2020 11:07

pickle, that's v interesting, I thought you had to buy a fancy wormery! How do you stop the special wormery worms escaping?

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MikeUniformMike · 26/02/2020 09:23

A friend gave me some worms, and my daleks are quite alive with them.
I'm not sure that you need special worms, as if you have soil, the worms will find it.

I make comfrey tea, but often I just but the comfrey in the compost bin, along with nettles, grass, shredded newspaper and plain cardboard etc.

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picklemewalnuts · 26/02/2020 08:57

Wormery all the way. Just get an old kitchen bin, punch drain holes in the bottom edge. Put a couple of inches of soil. Buy some suitable worms on line, then add waste on top. It all disappears into compost which will build up from the bottom. When it's almost full, you'll need to start off another bin with worms rescued from the first one, and spread the compost they've made across your garden.

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MikeUniformMike · 26/02/2020 08:45

The cooked food doesn't mean boiled veg, it means things like leftovers from mealtimes. Rats would probably find leftover spag bol or sunday lunch appealing.

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MereDintofPandiculation · 25/02/2020 10:58

Cooked food will attract vermin. This is always said, but I know of no evidence that rats will seek out cooked vegetables in preference to raw. And it's not even clear that they are particularly attracted to fish skin or meat bones. Main reason for not putting fish and meat remains on is that any fat attached to them isn't easy to break down.

Anything that doesn't rot down (bits of sellotape on cardboard, plastic interliners on what look like cardboard cartons, some teabags) can be fished out when you come to use the compost (not as yukky as it sounds - by then the compost is beautiful and sweet) - I keep a small water receptacle next to the bins for that purpose.

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MikeUniformMike · 24/02/2020 10:39

You can compost food waste but should not compost meat-based products. Cooked food will attract vermin.

You can put leftover milk in. Some teabags don't decompose. You can compost fruit peel.

You can make a composting bin by cutting a large hole in the base of a dustbin. I have mesh under my dalek compost bin.

I have a wire cage for garden clippings - the clippings take ages to rot.

Human urine is said to speed up composting.

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woodencoffeetable · 24/02/2020 10:14

jill depends on the kind of composter.
I believe hot composters are rat proof and suitable for food waste as well (we were considering one for the same reason as you)
the dalek type has a strong mesh at the bottom and a firmly closing lid, so that might be an option as well. but you should never compost animal products.

we went with a dalek because it's almost smell free and has a very small foot print.

generally hard fruit peel (oranges, bananas) takes ages to compost. careful if you have a lot of those.

wrt layering, that sort of happens naturally in a garden - and I agree with a previous poster that if you can get things small it will compost faster/easier.

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jillandhersprite · 24/02/2020 09:27

Saw this post and thought this is the thread for me as have been considering it. Is it true about not putting fruit or cooked food in the compost? We have quite a bit of that kind of waste - scrapings from plates and lots of fruit peelings as well as the usual veg peelings, so if over 50% of our food waste isn't compostable then I'm not sure its going to be worth the bother?

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BiffKipperAndTwattingChip · 24/02/2020 09:12

I have a small garden too and am thinking of a wormery. We donโ€™t need to compost as the council deals with all our garden and food waste, but I like the idea of feeding the worms and having something to poke about in. Grin

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Purplewithred · 24/02/2020 09:07

Potatoes in a raised bed: they need a decent amount of space each if you want bigger spuds. I wouldn't put more than a dozen in your bed.

Chitting isn't vital but it's nice to do while you're waiting to put them in (traditionally St Patrick's Day, 17th March, in many places, which is fixed in the calendar). If you are going to chit they want a lot of light - you want short stumpy thick chits not long straggly ones. Potatoes need decent soil and a lot of water to get big.

If you haven't chosen varieties I can recommend Pink Fir Apple for 'new' potatoes - knobbly but delicious.

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Purplewithred · 24/02/2020 09:01

Small garden composting: depends how small your garden is. My garden is 6m x 24m and I have two Dalek type compost bins; one filling and the other 'cooking'. I also have a small electric shredder so I can shred small branches etc to go in the compost (but I love gardening and my garden is bursting with plants!). There are two recipes for making compost: chopping everything that goes in finely, carefully balancing what goes in (greens/browns), regular turning, keeping it warm vs using it as a glorified garden rubbish heap. Both work but the second method (mine!) is slower.

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WellTidy · 24/02/2020 08:59

Would you consider buying a Hotbin? I got one last year and I now have really good compost. They aren't cheap, but very straightforward and no-work and you can start composting straightaway.

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woodencoffeetable · 24/02/2020 08:55

sue I used to grow potatos in a builder's bucket (a broken one with a hole in the bottom).
3 seed potatos per bucket.

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MereDintofPandiculation · 24/02/2020 08:52

susandelgado Not a potato expert but no-one else has answered: I'd plant about 18 inches apart, maybe you could squash them in at 12. I used to grow them in 18inch square tubs, one to a tub. Some people swear by planting them on Easter Sunday, ie April, and I'd guess start chitting a month before. I used to start chitting whenever I finally remembered to buy some seed potatoes.

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TiddleTaddleTat · 23/02/2020 20:33

Wormery!
Worm tea is a great bonus Grin

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FLOrenze · 19/02/2020 09:16

Hi @susandelgado , I would start a new post with your question. On this thread there will be many gardeners, like myself, who have no knowledge of growing potatoes.

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susandelgado · 18/02/2020 20:01

Hi gardeners!
I'm disabled and have a small raised bed about 8 X 6 feet. I've grown all sorts of things in it successfully. Last year it was peas. This year I want to try potatoes but have no idea how many seed potatoes to put in, and should I be chitting them now?
Any advice would be appreciated Smile

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