Potty Gardening Club: Compost

16/09/202006:0415/09/2020 11:21Leave a Comment

Hello again Potty Gardeners,

We hope you are staying safe and well. The Potty Gardeners club blog has been going for 7 months now and we have covered lots of different subjects and activities. You can look at them all here if you haven’t already done so.

This week we are looking into the world of my compost bin. Compost is an important part of gardening. It is organic matter we regard as waste produce that we help to decompose so we can use it as a soil conditioner.

Home composting is a most environmentally friendly way to dispose of kitchen and garden waste, all your vegetable and plant waste can be used. Did you know that about 40% of your dustbin contents are suitable for home composting? Composting isn’t complicated, its just natural science, and the end product of composting is rich in nutrients that feed the soil and help plants grow strong. To make good compost you need a 50% mix of green material, such as grass clippings, greens such as waste plants, weeds, vegetables and fruit peelings. These all provide nitrogen. You also need 50% of brown, carbon-rich waste such as prunnings, hedge trimmings, scrunched up paper newspaper, cardboard and eggshells. Don’t use dog or cat faeces, glossy paper, raw meat or dairy products. I don’t use teabags as some of these contain micro plastics.

Your compost pile can be on the ground and not in a container, just cover it with old carpet or sacking. If you use a bin, ventilation is important. Make sure it is damp(not wet) this is an important part of the process. Turn your compost regularly to let air in, recover your compost heap or put on the lid to keep in warmth and let nature do its work. Damp and the warmth inside the compost heap begin the decay process, bacteria and fungi work away breaking down the organic matter. Worms, slugs, snails, woodlice and other creatures that feed on this decaying matter break it down further. The compost heap is home and hunting ground to many different mini beasts and a wonderful place for mini beast hunting. As well as those beasties already mentioned, beetles, millipedes, centipedes, ants and flies can be found, plus many microscopic beasties you cannot see without a magnifying glass.

Look at the pictures of some of the creatures I found in my compost. The centipede was as long as my finger and very thin. It didn’t like being in the light, continually trying to hide. All centipedes have poisonous claws each side of their head and are great hunters feeding on whatever they can catch. Compost heaps are beneficial to wildlife and a good nesting or hibinating place for many creatures, including bees and hedgehogs. Why not give it go? Make your own compost, provide a home for different creatures and go minibeast hunting. What could be better than that?

Written by Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer

Written by museumvolunteers - Modified by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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