Saturday, 25 April 2009

Composting - the quick return experiment begins

Quick return composting - compost in as little as 4-6 weeks, with no turning needed. I've just had excellent results in 6 weeks using this method (as shown in the photo below) and am now keen to keep composting this way in order to save us a small fortune from buying in the manufactured stuff!

Bit of history then - it's a technique devised by May Bruce back in the '40s, which I came across recently in a magazine article (organic gardening, feb issue). Sounded too good to be true and then I discovered her original book in a local auction house, bought it and have been trying it out, following her beautifully detailed instructions!

So it's very easy to do and all relies on a herbal activator that speeds up the breaking down process, creating a really hot heap that even kills rampant weeds and seed heads. The activator is made of a very weak solution of plant juices (1 part to 10,000 parts of water) extracted from common weeds or of a powder made from the dried weeds. Or you can buy it from garden organic:

The main wild plants used are nettle and yarrow (the latter is pictured left and right as it looks in Spring - click for bigger image), plus a little honey. She explains how just using these three things will work, but that the full formula also includes dandelion, valerian, chamomile and oak bark - all the same herbs as used in Biodynamic activators. Her experiments using different concentrations showed the really weak dose to be much more effective and fast acting than stronger doses.

So what I did was to find some of those key plants - yarrow and nettle, plus a little dandelion - and as a very quick and easy experiment, I just crushed them in my fingers to release the juices and put them in a jug of water with a tiny bit of honey. I left this on the side for about an hour tops to let some of the juices seep out. Then following Miss Bruce's instructions, I spiked holes in my compost heap using a crow bar and tipped the liquid down them. I filled in the holes with dry soil, covered the heap over with cardboard to keep the heat in, then topped off with a rain-proof cover and left it to do its thing.

And six weeks later when I opened it, under the top layer of dry stuff was the nicest home-made compost I've ever seen! Dark, crumbly, soft... everything they always say compost should be, but never seems to end up being all those months later.

I will be trying this again!

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that you are using the QR method and have had good results with your experiment using the herbs crushed in your fingers - what a marvellous idea!

    Andrew Davenport

    QR Composting Solutions



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