Large Scale Composting

Dear Martin

We have a large 8 acre garden which includes 3 large lawns that I mow on a ride on lawn mower. We have a large compost area at the bottom of the garden where I tip the grass cuttings from the ride on and also the leaves from the large oak trees around the garden. Each spring I have to fork up the compost heap to make way for the next year’s cuttings which is a long and horrid job, and it generally takes more than one winter for decomposition to be complete!  

What I need is a about 3 wooden composting bins that I can back the ride on into to empty the cuttings, I can then alternate their use and have compost ready to use all the time. All cuttings and other garden waste we burn and I use the ash from the bonfires on the roses which seem to love it! I have been looking at your wooden compost bins on your web page, would these be suitable and robust enough for the about use?   

With many thanks

Lucia Dunlop    

Dear Lucia

Many thanks for your recent compost-based enquiry. Out of all the compost bins and tumblers we supply, I’d agree with you and say that the 1000 Litre Compost Bin is the most suited to your requirements and as long as it is wide enough to reverse your tractor into (the bin is 120cm wide), it should make life much easier.  

I notice from your message that you mainly compost grass cuttings and leaves and although this is a good mix of green and brown material (50:50 is the best ratio), leaves are notoriously slow to decompose; they break down by fungal activity as opposed to bacterial. I’d suggest you keep the leaves in a separate compost bin or clamp and leave them to compost at their own rate; they will eventually (I say eventually as it can take up to 2 years!) make wonderful leaf mould, which is ideal for use as a mulch around shrubs, bushes and vegetables – and your roses of course!   If you’ve got an abundance of grass clippings, it’s not a good idea to pile them into a compost bin alone; you’ll end up with a slimy, stinking, soggy mess! If possible, you need to mix the cuttings with brown material such as woody cuttings, twigs, straw and hay, cardboard and paper. As I said, aim for a 50:50 mix and you should get great compost well within a year. Alternatively, you can try ‘grass-boarding’; it’s not an extreme sport but simply a process where thin layers of grass cuttings are sandwiched between torn up pieces of cardboard. You can still ‘grass-board’ in a compost bin and the result is a very fine, weed free compost.  

Thanks again for your message and here’s to a successful year in the garden!