So I’ve just finished emptying the second compost bin. It was fairly good stuff from half way down, but I’d let the top get too dry and too layered, i.e. I hadn’t turned it. Also, as usual, I’d clearly put unshredded, woody stalks directly in the heap, so it serves me right that they have come out of it as …… woody stalks.
One of the good consequences of the woody stuff though is that we’ve got wildlife in the heap. Not just rats either. For the third year running I’ve dug out the spent egg sacks of a grass snake.
The first time I found them I had no idea what they were, because they were rubbery in texture and looked artificial. So I added a photo to a website call iSpot. (iSpot is a really useful online nature community that connects beginners with experts and fellow enthusiasts. It was developed by the Open University.) Within a few hours I had an ID and some excited comments and recommendations about encouraging these creature into the garden. One of these comments suggested creating a space at the bottom of the heap with a few crossed logs to provide shelter for the snakes, so when I start to refill the compost heap that is what goes in first and it certainly seems to be working. Of course, later in the year it can be disconcerting to come across an actual snake. Last year we came across one enjoying the pond. Beautiful, but they move frighteningly quickly in that zigzag fashion, which can confuse you about the direction they are going.
Anyhow, back to the compost heap: The emptying process has taken a while, because I’ve been doing it in bits. It feels like a big job (the bin is about 1.5m x 1.5m x 1m) and I’ve waited for beds to be clear and gaps to appear in the garden. Most of the compost this year has gone on to the vegetable plot, because the new raised beds have settled over this first year and the imported top soil looked thin. Elsewhere, anything I can add to the clay soil will help ease of planting in future.