What to do with waste on our Allotment site

Background

With restrictions on bonfires on site being enforced on us, we have to manage the waste material generated on the allotment site more effectively.

The Committee held its last bonfire last June 2023, which cleared our bonfire plot at the far end of the site.   We also be provided 2 skips around that time to clear unwanted rubbish.

Policy update

We request plotholders not to place material to the bonfire plot area but to take it to the tip or compost it.

Composting guide

You need to mix coarse plant materials with soft, nitrogen rich plant materials to get your compost to break down.   Most beginners manage to produce usable compost within a year.

Coarse materials include weeds, long grass, crop wastes, shredded paper or card.  Cabbage stems and other tough material can be chopped up before adding to the heap. Remove as much soil from roots as possible.

The most readily available soft material is grass clippings, but you can bring vegetable waste and peelings from home.  Tea and coffee grounds are good.

Do not include meat, fish, bread, cake, pasta, rice or any cooked food, as these will all attract rats!

Do not include marestail, bindweed or couch grass roots or stems;  but most other weeds are fine and indeed help provide enough coarser material.

Do not include diseased material such as clubroot or onion white rot, this is best disposed “off-site” in your black bin. Most other diseased plant material can be safely composted, though opinions vary on this subject!

The heap will work best if it comprises between a quarter and a half soft material, between half and three quarters coarse plant material.

If the heap is placed on the soil, mini beasts and bacteria will migrate into the heap to help it rot down.  You only need to add water and air and away it goes. 

The heap needs to be contained in a plastic, metal or wooden bin. The most important thing is to use a container with solid sides and to cover the compost with sheet or a bit of carpet.  Otherwise the heap will tend to dry out. 

A dry compost heap will not rot down, and drying out is the most common cause of failure.  There is also a risk of a wasps’ nest appearing in summer in a dry heap.

If you cannot obtain or build a compost container, then make a pile and cover with a sheet, weighted down with stones or bricks.

Sufficient moisture and air is required to produce good compost, this is best achieved by emptying or removing the bin once a month, forking it over to mix the materials up, and watering it if dry. It just needs to be kept damp, not saturated.  

Managing the process is best achieved by having two heaps.  Keep adding to one heap for 6 months, then mix it, cover it and leave it be.  Then build the other heap for 6 months.  By this time, the first heap should be ready to dig in.

You can use your compost as a mulch around established plants, or as a manure under potatoes or in planting holes for any nutrient hungry crops. 

Good composting!

IAA Committee   12th August 2023