The Coronavirus restrictions have fortunately not stopped us working on our allotments, but the situation presents the Association with a number of challenges, one of which is waste management. With the temporary closure of the Imberhorne Lane recycling centre, we have to manage the waste material generated on the allotment site more effectively.
The Committee held one large bonfire at the end of March, which cleared our bonfire plot at the far end of the site. However, we are now told that no more bonfires can be lit until further notice. We don’t want to stop plotholders adding material to the bonfire plot, but this really must be limited to the woody materials described below.
There is no change to the existing Site By-Laws, this is additional guidance in response to the current restrictions.
Please help the Committee by following the Guidance below:-
- Only woody plant material such as bush and tree prunings can be taken to the bonfire site, also old pallets and other unsound or rotten timber. We cannot accept any of the following materials for burning:-
- Soft green prunings
- Grass and weeds, stems or roots
- Plants with soil on the roots
- Chipboard, plywood or blockboard
- Plastic or felt
- Diseased plant materials
- No material should be added to the bonfire that has not been used on the site by the plotholder – i.e. no domestic waste.
- The Allotment Site must not be treated as a dumping ground for materials that have no horticultural value, and are only brought to our site because the local tip is closed
- We encourage all plotholders to make compost from their waste plant material where possible, on their plot(s). Compost making is not as difficult as some of the published guides make it sound, as long as a few simple rules are followed.
- If you don’t wish to compost, then please arrange to remove your waste plant material from site.
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.
IAA Committee 3rd April 2020.