The compost heap will be working at its best during the hotter summer months as the warmth and rain increase the activity of the composting micro-organisms. A cold system will be at its maximum rate of decomposition,
helped by the regular addition of feedstock and aeration. As temperatures increase plastic bins and covered heaps may dry out so it is important to monitor the situation and water if necessary
If hot composting
requiring the addition of composting material in batches sufficient to fill the bin it helps to layer the materials alternating nitrogen rich Green organic matter a with a layer of Browns. The bin or heap should be watered when adding the layers and
during dry periods regularly moisten when turning the contents to aerate and maintain the temperature. The objective is to hold the material at a temperature at 50C plus for as long as possible. Ensuring that there is a layer of Browns on top of the compost
will help reduce the number of fruit flies
If hot composting using a Green Johanna or a Hotbin only the top layers will need aerating not the whole pile as is necessary when batch composting with a New Zealand bin.
If rapid or hot composting techniques are being used producing compost in only a few weeks, the first of this year’s compost will be ready to ready to harvest during the early summer period. This should be covered and
stored to allow it to mature in a maturation bin. Providing sufficient organic waste is available, it should be possible when using hot composting techniques, or a tumbler bin, to produce several batches of compost over the summer months.
Compost any remaining leaves and flower heads from spring flowers as they go over. Weeds will be growing well and where as non-seeding annuals can be added directly to the bin perennials should be drowned or dried out before being added to
the composting mix.
The vegetable garden should be producing a bumper crop of vegetation for the compost bin in June. These might include the tops of new season early potatoes and beetroot, which can be added to the allotment
Spring flowering shrubs and trees such a cherry, deutzia, kolkwitzia, lilacs, peonies philadelphus, weigela and wisteria and dead flowers form Camellias and Rhododendrons. Ornamental Alliums, Poppies and Pulmonarias. Perennials such
as Delphiniums and Lupins should d dead headed to encourage second flowering
The lawn should continue to supply a good quantity of grass which will need balancing with carboard, shredded paper and bulking agen such as the shreddings from the woody
The kitchen compost bin will benefit from the pods of peas and broad beans followed by French and runner beans in July.
July will also provide leaves removed to provide access
to courgettes, carrot, beetroot, and more potato tops as well as trimmings for summer salads. There may also be some apples and pears if there is a heavy crop which thinning out. July pruning of Cherry and plum trees after fruiting will continue to provide
a source of shredded woody material. Hardy Geraniums will need tidying as will Dahlia, Delphiniums and Lupins once they have finished flowering. Mowing and hoeing will continue to provide a source of greens
should see the last of the early planted broad beans and enabling the bean plants to be pulled up, chopped and added to the compost bin. It also sees the start of the sweet corn crop. Any stalks pulled up accidentally during harvesting should be chopped or
shredded before composting. The sweet corn cobs should be chopped and composted once the corn has been removed/eaten.
This is the main time of year for pruning fruit trees and bushes (except cherries and plums) providing
shredded “Brown” material for the compost bin.
As a composting bonus, there will be leftover salad and other food from barbecues as well as the ash from lump wood charcoal (not briquettes).
Rambling Roses and fruited canes of summer raspberries should be pruned, and beech hedges cut back and shredded. Hardy geraniums should be tidied while their growth easily be seen. Conifers can be cut back.
sources say that hair can be composted but it never seems an effective use of time to collect a few strands of human hair from the comb or brush. Nevertheless, summer can see dogs shedding their winter coats and even if the hair is not saved from grooming
there is likely to be sufficient collected when vacuuming to make a trip to the allotment compost bin worthwhile. As I have two Clumber Spaniels which shed continuously throughout the year my vacuum cleaner provides a constant supply of dog hair.
Continue harvesting comfrey every two weeks to make Comfrey Tea of as an activator in the compost bin.
During the summer, if you have a lawn, there should be a good supply of grass clippings.(I know I am repeating
myself but grass does provide a problem for many composters). When adding these to the bin be sure to add sufficient easily digested Browns to prevent them forming a black, smelly, anaerobic mat inside the bin. If you find that you have more than
you can compost in your bin, consider Grass Boarding layers of grass and cardboard.
I find that mixing either woodchip from the chicken house or shredded summer prunings, as a bulking agent, with a generous supply of shredded
paper or corrugated cardboard works well when composting grass in a Green Johana avoiding the problems associated with anaerobic decomposition of grass. The grass will bring the bin up to temperature quickly and weekly mowing will help maintain it at a reasonable
When mowing a small lawn and composting producing a large grass box of mowings a week (filling about a quarter of the bin) Hotbin recommend adding 4 parts bulking agent to 20 parts grass cuttings.( 8 litres
of bulking agent per 40l of grass). With a large lawn that generates 3, 4 or more boxes (about 60-80L) each week a dedicated bin will be required. The compost should be ready for harvesting after about 90 days, for more detailed information
see the Hotbin Summer Newsletter go to: email@example.com via mail25.sea91.rsgsv.net
If a break
is required from mowing the lawn it can be fed using a 50:50 mix of sharp sand and sieved compost to form a layer about 2.5 cm thick during the summer. This may look unsightly initially but will soon disappear. Alternatively, compost tea
can be used to feed the lawn.
If the compost heap starts overflowing either start a new bin or store the material until the heap subsides and the waste can be added. Stored green material may start to decompose
but it can still be added to the bin when space becomes available. It is helpful to turn the compost heap, or bin, to mix the new material and aerate it to encourage the composting processes before the onset of the autumn.
Towards the end of the summer it is advisable to check the consistency and moisture level of the contents. If the material is too dry more greens can be added e.g. nettles and annual weeds along with water or the sludge from compost tea. If too wet
crumpled cardboard, shredded paper, woodchip or sawdust can be added.
Harvesting the Compost
Finished compost is a rich dark brown colour, has an earthy smell and crumbles in the hand.
If using hot composting techniques, the process started in the early summer should be ready in 3-6 weeks and while the compost produced by cold composting is normally harvested in the autumn it is worth checking towards the end of the summer whether the process