Composting in Autumn
Autumn is the ideal time to start composting. We are all clearing back the gardens, cutting down shrubs and trees, doing the final cuts on the lawn and preparing for winter.
Here is how to make the most of your garden waste and use it as compost.
To make a healthy compost you need about two thirds of 'brown material' such as leaves, shrubs twigs and a third of 'green material' - kitchen scraps, fruit and vegetable peelings and grass clippings.
Usually you have no problem supplying the green material but it is the brown material that is more difficult to find. However, the situation is reversed in autumn when leaves, shrubs and twigs become plentiful.
Building up your compost bin in autumn means you are stockpiling your brown material, this carbon rich material will benefit your compost all year long.
You may find it difficult to fit all the leaves in to your bin, but there is a solution. Compost them separately outside the bin covered in plastic sheeting. However, the pile might take six months to compost so taking them to the local recycling site might be a better option. Or keep them in a sack beside the compost bin ready to add to your vegetable, fruit and kitchen scraps to increase the carbon content of that compost layer.
As it gets colder the composting process is a lot slower some home composters line their compost bins with cardboard or heap blankets over the compost pile to help retain as much heat as possible. Coffee grounds can help, they make an excellent addition to your compost pile because many composters report that they help to sustain high temperatures in the pile. They can also improve soil structure and attract worms. See if your local coffee shop will provide them for free.
Of course for a commercial composter like Premier Waste Management retaining the heat is not such a problem, our compost rows contain about 450 tonnes of plant material. The sheer bulk of material creates and retains the heat we need to achieve great compost. By the end of October we will have made 12,000 tonnes of compost this year from 20,000 tonnes of raw plant material.
In the world of commercial composting we see an increase in the amount of plant material coming to our composting sites as people do a final clear out before winter. We also see an increase in the amount of compost leaving the site as commercial gardeners, landscape architects, farmers and horticulturists prepare their sites for next year.