If you’ve got a no-dig allotment garden or you simply want to make great compost that will provide nutrients to your plants all year round, you’ll need a simple system to follow throughout the season.
In other words, you’ll need to:
- gather the right mix of organic materials and,
- place them somewhere to decompose and can easily be turned
What follows is the system I’ve implemented and refined using recycled dalek composters with great success that ensures a plentiful supply of arguably the most important resource in your allotment garden.
Why use dalek composters instead of the more traditional pallet compost bins?
Because dalek composters are light enough to be repositioned in your allotment garden at will, are easier to turn, come with lids to prevent saturation and can be sought for very little second hand, sometimes for free.
I’ve broken down how this system is working for me to give you an idea of how you might want to produce copious amounts of great compost for your own gardening needs.
Source dalek composters from Facebook marketplace
Dalek composters on abandoned allotment plots are a good first place to start your composting production process. Always seek permission first.
But if none are lying around and you need to source more for your allotment garden, Facebook marketplace is an excellent resource for finding them for very little cost.
You’ll find that Facebook markeplace is a great resource for other allotment associated goodies also.
On Facebook marketplace dalek composters are sometimes advertised for free and if you’re quick enough you can get a great deal. Other times you may be asked to pay usually between £5 – £10.
Make sure the back seat of your car with the back seats down is large enough to accommodate your newly acquired dalek composter otherwise you’ll have a long walk home.
Aim to get one dalek composter for every two beds at your allotment.
Choose the right location for your dalek composters
The very best location for your dalek composter bins are somewhere that allows you maximum growing space whilst being close to where finished compost will be used.
Towards the very edges of your plot or garden where they will not prevent too much sunlight from hitting your plants during the day is best.
Also take account of how much room you will need to turn the compost bins (below), usually the same amount of space that the actual bin uses up.
Add organic matter throughout the season
The amount of organic matter your allotment garden will produce over a season will be enough to keep your hungry daleks satisfied all season.
There are additional useful items you can use from the home that will help to provide a good mix of greens and browns so do keep adding organic matter in an attempt to get your composter full.
- Greens are weeds, grass clippings, manure, plant stems, vegetables and fruits, egg shells and farm animal manure.
- Browns are cardboard minus the staples and sellotape, fallen leaves, fruit bush prunings (chopped into smaller pieces), straw and newspaper. Yes newspaper.
If the organic matter is dry or the weather is warm add some water from a hose or can as you add new material. You’re aiming to keep the material ‘moist’, there’s that word again.
I actually keep the lids off the daleks throughout the summer months to allow rainwater in which saves time and resources.
Keeping the organic matter moist will help the mini beasts to breakdown and make your compost much faster.
Turn your dalek composters when they are almost full
Turn your dalek composter when it has been three quarters full for at least six weeks to reduce compaction, breakup any lumps and get air into the organic material.
Turning will speed up the decomposition process and judge if the material needs water or more cardboard if it’s too wet.
The are two ways to turn your dalek compost bin.
- use a compost aerator tool
- completely remove the bin and reposition it to a new location close by
My preference is to completely remove the compost bin when they are three quarters full by lifting it vertically off the organic matter and repositioning it close by. From here it’s a simple process of shovelling the material back into the top of the compost bin.
This method ensures that the compost gets a large amount of air into it when shovelling it back in.
Plus if there is any finished compost towards the bottom of the heap you can quickly spread it onto neighbouring beds or containers as a mulch saving yourself time later on in the season.
A powerful addition to your allotment or garden
The addition of beds of compost into which seeds are direct sown or small plants are transplanted at my allotment has been a game changer.
Plants are noticeably healthier looking, more vibrant and the success rates for germinating direct sown seeds have increased.
The no-dig adage of ‘feed the soil’ is absolutely spot on; if you feed your soil first by providing it with good quality homemade compost then your plants will be fed from nutrient-rich soil teaming with mini beasts.
Be the envy of your neighbouring plot holders and make good quality compost.