Tuesday, May 30, 2006

We've had a big list of things to do ever since we moved in, one of which was to get a compost heap up and running to reduce what we put in a black bin liner. When I lived in Brighton, I ended up with a rat problem with my bought plastic composter, and the council pest control man, who was both discrete and efficient, told me that a big proportion of his job was created by compost heaps. He told me how to design a rat-proof heap, and I've incorporated his advice (basically creating a cage of wire mesh, no larger than 1cm square holes) in my one metre cube made out of old pallets destined for the tip, which I obtained free from a local hardware shop.
The other advice I've been following is the Centre for Alternative Technology's (see our links) factsheet "Cool Composting: a Fresh Approach" (as opposed to a French approach!) which is £3.50 well spent. Forget about creating huge heaps of stuff that spontaneously reach high temperatures (the classic approach) and have an altogether simpler task of making sure that your "cheese" (kitchen waste and grass cuttings) and "bread" (cardboard, paper that can't otherwise be recycled, straw) are layered in roughly even quantities, to create a balanced "cheese sandwich."
I started peeing on it, but have stopped, as it's rather exposed to the neighbours. So I have created an outdoor "pissoir" from a plastic bucket full with wood shavings, which I get in bags from the dust extractor of a carpenter friend of mine. The combination of carbon (the wood) and nitrogen (my urine) should create a healthy compost; time will tell.