AG’s Letters page editor Wendy Humphries gets to grips with emptying the compost bins and mulching borders.

I know exactly how AG reader Barbara feels this week. Her letter published in the 7 March issue shared her delight at turning trimmings and kitchen waste into home-made compost for the first time. Like Barbara, I use three of these Dalek style bins and these have been emptied of all the ready material. It’s been piled up in a corner of the garden for easy access – lovely!


During the enforced lockdown, we are all busing tidying our gardens, but limited resources for getting rid of the prunings and debris will be a problem for many. Some authorities are no longer collecting ‘green’ waste bins and my local recycling centre (tip) is closed.

composting, clipping, pruning, mulching, rotting

It’s so sataisfying when clippings and trimmings rot down to make healthy, wonderful compost

My bins will be so useful for swallowing up all the shrub prunings and annual weeds that will quickly accumulate over the next few weeks. Of course, the woodier stuff will be chopped up into smaller 5cm lengths so they can rot down more readily. Perennial roots of weeds such as bindweed and couch will bagged and discarded in the black bin.

Now my bins are emptied and the process starts again, I am left with a lovely pile of brown stuff to lavish on the borders as mulching material.

Compost, brown gold, feeding, Dalek,

Wendy’s ‘Dalek’ compost bin is packed with rich, crumbly compost

The winter has been so wet, I would not dare touch the soil until now. Digging my heavy silty soil is out of the question this late, so I simply tease the surface with a fork to incorporate air and loosen the surface compaction.


Mulch is usually applied to damp soil, but since it hasn’t rained for two weeks in Dorset, I had no option but to soak the soil with a watering can before the layer of mulch was added.

As well as being the ultimate soil conditioner, this homemade compost will be such a bonus for improving the soil in containers and tubs and used as a top-dressing. It will be put through a sieve for sowing seeds, and hopefully allow my single bag of seed compost to go that bit further!

Rain, watering, watering can. plants, gardening, compost, mulch

Make sure the soil is damap before adding mulch, otherwise the added layer will keep the rain off


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Stay safe everyone out there and come back to the blog for more advice over the coming days and weeks.