On the 6th of November I created a compost heap and followed the Berkeley method of hot composting as I was sceptical that it could be made in that time in November in the UK. Well I was partially right and partially wrong!
These pictures show you how the compost looks now and I can’t deny that it looks a lot like compost that is ready to use. There are a few elements that look like they originally did and I removed those as I spread the mound over the bed. I made it on the bed I am using it on to save barrowing ‘stuff’ around and because I would have to find space if I didn’t. However, the heap did not heat up anywhere near the necessary temperature so I would say that means that the weed seed in it is still viable and will grow when the conditions are right. I will come back and update this post when I know how that goes.
I can think of two reasons why the heap didn’t heat up.
- It wasn’t big enough. It needs to be at least a meter cubed and mine wasn’t.
- It needed more moisture. I watered it several times but could not get a single drop of water out when I squeezed it.
- Oh – there’s a third! It might have needed a bit more green in it. Green is in short supply at this time of year and brown is in the summer. You just can’t win.
To prevent the weed seeds germinating, I have covered the bed in woven black plastic that I keep for just such an issue. (No need for a picture of this. You can all imagine it!) For some reason, an overwinter cover seems to inhibit weed germination once the plastic is removed.
So, I will gather all the stuff together for another heap. I have a cleared bed I can make it on and try to remedy these three problems. I wanted to make a heap each month but it might take me a little longer than a week to get enough green. I am going out on a nettle hunt over the next few days to see what I can find and I probably do have some weeds somewhere! I could also cut the lawn on a dry day.
One other thing I will do differently in the next heap is to think about what I include. When I looked again at Geoff Lawton’s video it did all seem to be leafy material, both green and brown, rather than twigs, large clumps of grass etc. I can put those things into my cold heaps where they will rot down. I will document more clearly what goes into my next heap and by the end of 2021 I should have got to grips with hot composting.
See the results from December here.
Have you tried this method of composting? How did it go?