Saturday, 18 September 2021

Always exciting - opening up a compost pen!

Today was the day - time to open up a compost pen, and see whether it was full of "lovely stuff" or not!

Just to remind you, my preferred way of making compost is to have three pens: one to be filling, one to be rotting down, and one which is fully rotted, and available for use.

I am always writing about compost - if you want to know more, either type the word into the search box, top left of the screen: or go to Amazon and buy my book on How To Make Compost And Leaf Mold *laughs* because it's excellent, and has all the detail you will need.

Today, then, was an exciting day: this pen has been rotting down for a good long time, and is ready to be opened.

First job - take out a couple of the front planks, now that the level has sunk down so much.

Next job - rake off the top, dry, layer, which has only partially rotted, and put all that material onto the "fill me" pen.

Now, what do we have?


Apparently we have a pair of gloves making "bunny ears".

Ignoring them.... this is great! We have a successful compost pen.

You can see that the pen has reduced in volume by over half: it was full to overflowing when we stopped filling it, and in the intervening several months, it has rotted down until there is just a compact mass of "lovely stuff" at the bottom.

At least, we hope that it is "lovely stuff"... so let's take a closer look.


Ooh yes! Lovely stuff! Dark, nearly black: moist but not soggy, friable but not dusty - perfect "organic matter".

This can now be used as an autumn mulch on the beds, as I clear them, ready for the winter: it can go as a nutrient-rich mulch around the base of the fruit trees in this garden: I will be topping up the various pots and planters with it: and whatever is left over will be going onto the Veg patch, once it's cleared at the end of the season.

That will take care of this material, and by spring, when we are ready for more mulching and soil improving, why, by then the next pen - the one which is currently in the "rotting down" stage - should be ready for opening. 

It also means that this pen, the one I am now emptying, will be standing empty for a couple of months, which gives the wood time to dry out, thus extending its life. 

There are many advantages to the "three-pen" system, of which I am so fond!

Now, this leads on to another point: a recent Training Day Student was asking me to clarify the differences between compost, multi-purpose compost, and organic matter. What were they, what was the difference between them, and did we use them for different things? 

So I wrote a post about it - do please check it out, if you are the least bit unsure about what is what, in the wonderful world of compost!


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