We were joined at gardening club this week by several plotholders from across the city to learn how to make compost with Jan Macdonald. Jan began by giving us a talk in the shelter of the shed – it wasn’t really bad weather but still pretty cold. She taught us about the balance you need in a compost heap between green material (grass clippings, weeds, fruit or vegetable waste or peelings) and brown material (plant stems – such as from brassicas, twiggy parts of plants from pruning, cardboard or paper). If there is too much brown waste the compost will become dry and fibrous so more green waste should be added. If the compost is wet and smells strongly, more brown material needs to be added to dry it. We discussed whether weeds should be composted – there were varying opinions on whether this was okay and which weeds can and should be composted – and whether is was okay to compost teabags which contain plastic (Jan takes the tea leaves out of the bags to compost). Jan had even brought along a large sized tardigrade for us to meet! Tardigrades are microscopic creatures which help the material to break down and form compost.

After the talk we built a compost bay for the War & Peas plot using pallets and old compost bags. We built two bays. When the first bay is ready, the compost can be turned over and placed in the second bay and we can then start filling the first bay over again. It might not be very accurate to use the plastic compost bags to line the bays – we could perhaps have used hessian sacks – but is good for recycling. It will be very useful to have this bay and make our own compost, nothing will go to waste on the plot – not even the weeds!

An introductory talk

A very large tardigrade!

Checking how the pallets fit together

The first pallet in place

The first pallet is joined by a second

Posts are cut to the right size

The pallet is lined with empty compost bags