What’s Happening Here?

Join us each month as we go behind the scenes and ask what’s happening here? There will be sneak previews of projects and events, exclusive news from the garden and plenty of tips and ideas for you to try out at home.


The Compost Bays

Over the past few months we have had new, improved compost bays constructed behind the scenes. Our old bays had become badly damaged and dilapidated over the years. Constructed from wood, the structure had become rotten in places, causing it to collapse. Access to the bays were hampered by muddy paths that were churned up by constant footfall, wheelbarrow traffic, and were prone to flooding.

The new compost heaps under construction, photograph by Paul Martin, What's Happening Here?, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

First steel girders were concreted into the ground, photograph by Paul Martin

“Six large, new bays have been built, sturdily constructed with girder supports and wooden sleeper walls. They are concrete-floored with leveled gravel paths and are wide enough to be accessed by our tractor. The large number of bays mean we can manage the production of compost as efficiently as possible by having compost at different stages, and with differing content, maturing to different timescales.”

The new compost heaps under construction, photograph by Paul Martin, What's Happening Here?, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

A steel mesh was installed to help re-enforce the concrete floor, photograph by Paul Martin

“As you can imagine with a garden the size of Winterbourne, we generate a lot of organic material that could be easily composted. Composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of disposing of this material, putting it to good use to create nutrient-rich compost that can be put back into our garden. It saves money by reducing the amount to compost we have to buy in and the best thing is, most of the hard work is done by an army of worms and other micro-organisms!”

The new compost heaps under construction, photograph by Paul Martin, What's Happening Here?, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

Huge sleepers slot between the girders to make a solid wall for the bays, photograph by Paul Martin

“Composting can easily be done at home and is a greenest way to recycle your kitchen and garden waste. Any commercial composting bin or homemade open bay will be fine as long as it can exclude excessive rain, retain warmth, allow drainage and let air in. The bay/bin should be positioned on a site with an even temperature, preferably in light shade.”

The new compost heaps under construction, photograph by Paul Martin, What's Happening Here?, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

The cast concrete floor was allowed to ‘go off’ for two weeks before the new compost heaps were used, photograph by Paul Martin

“Typically, garden compost takes between six months to two years to reach maturity. Mature compost will be crumbly, dark brown and has a soil-like texture. Get the balance of composting materials right. Aim for 50 percent soft, green materials like grass clippings, annual weeds and uncooked vegetable kitchen waste. The other half should be woody, brown material such as prunings, shredded hedge clippings, dead herbaceous material or dead leaves.”

The new compost heaps under construction, photograph by Paul Martin, What's Happening Here?, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

Our first green waste in the new bays! Photograph by Paul Martin

“Certain things should never be placed in your compost bin such as meat, cooked food, dog poo and cat litter. Putting these in your compost will lead to unwanted pests and smells. Don’t compost perennial weeds such as dandelions and thistle, weeds with seed heads or diseased plants, and avoid letting any one material dominate the heap (especially grass clippings), and keep the green and brown material well mixed to add air into the heap, speeding up the composting procedure. Keep the heap moist in dry weather and you’ll have brilliant, crumbly compost in no time.” Paul Martin, Horticultural Supervisor


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