As it appears especially

if you shred it first. . k also significantly reduces the volume of a pile of prunings and counters the tendency of raw prunings to dry out too quickly.

Really "green" gardeners object to the energy used by shredders, but this is trivial compared to all the other energy used by modern living. Running a shredder for half an hour will deal with 50kg (110lb) of prunings and uses about as much electricity as watching television for an evening.

If you have a shredder, modest quantities of shredded, woody material may be added to a high-fibre compost heap. They will still break down more slowly than the soft wastes, but the smaller

Before shredding, a heap of woody prunings takes up a lot of space.

Before shredding, a heap of woody prunings takes up a lot of space.

woody pieces will make the finished product look better. Large quantities of shredded woody waste may simply be piled up in their own heap and will be broken down rather slowly by fungi, eventually producing something very like leafmould.

Unshredded woody waste can be treated in exactly the same way as shredded, but will take an extremely long time to break down. In fact, sticks or stems thicker than 2cm (%in) will take so long to rot that composting is not a realistic option - the habitat pile or the bonfire are best for this larger stuff. To speed things up, you need to address the tendency of woody waste to dry out.

After shredding, the prunings are dramatically reduced in volume.

After shredding, the prunings are dramatically reduced in volume.

This means it needs to go in a closed bin, ideally taller than it is wide, so that its own weight tends to compress it and reduce the large air spaces. It also helps to add other things that will help to fill in the spaces, such as old potting compost and soil. When you pull up weeds, don't knock any of the soil off the roots: just add the whole lot to the heap. The good thing about a heap like this is that it will take anything not suitable for the high-fibre compost heap - including autumn leaves.

Shredded or not, woody waste has a high carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio, so will benefit from judicious additions of activators containing nitrogen (see pages 48-49). Woody material, like many autumn leaves, also tends to be low in calcium, so a handful of garden lime (ground limestone) helps too. Lime is especially good if you have many conifer prunings, which tend to be very acid.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment