Compost: Hidden dangers

With quite a large garden we can make plenty of compost. In fact we compost all vegetable matter with the only exception of weeds such as dandelions, couch grass and some annual weeds such as milkweed which have a habit of coming through the composting process. Any woody cuttings, including hedge trimmings, are shredded and bagged up. These shreddings are then added to green vegetation, particularly lawn clippings, as they go on to the compost heap. Adding these woody materials to grass largely stops it going slimy and into silage.16_09_02_3365Bags of shredding waiting to be added with a pile of composted compost that will be used as mulch later this year. As you can see the compost area is also a general storage area with some logs from a local farmer and some pots of gravel.16_09_02_3366The compost bins have been renewed this year after the previous ones rotted away after having given service for twenty three years. The bins are constructed with marine plywood sides with planks that slot into the front to give access for emptying and also filling.16_09_02_3367We basically have three such bins. There are holes in the plywood to let animals into the heap and also for some aeration of the heap. The two bins on the right are used to receive materials from the garden, the bin on the left is used when we need to turn the heap in one of the two right hand bins. We find that turning the heap speeds up the compost process and gives a much better final result. The only downside is it is very hard work turning the heap!16_09_02_3368The left hand bin just after we have turned the compost from the centre bin. (plus a few leaves from the trees under which the bins are located).16_09_02_3369 The compost ready for mulching.

So where is the hidden danger. I was standing in the half full middle bin turning the half composted materials into the left hand bin using a fork. I suddenly realised that as well as compost I had a quite large grass snake on my fork! We have always had grass snakes around the compost bins but normally they get out of the way when I am doing work there. I had been concerned that with the new compost bins they would not be around this year and it was a pleasant surprise to see this one although in the circumstances a bit of a shock! This one was about a metre long and very active. The snake had not been injured and made a fast escape through one of the holes at the back. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a camera in time so here is an older photo of a similar snake in our garden.2010_20100624_582They are not dangerous but the thought of me standing in the compost heap with a snake trying to make a quick exit up my trouser legs beggars belief. I shall have to remember to tuck my trousers into my socks next time I turn the heap!

At last we have had some welcome rain. However, the weather forecast for next week is also looking very dry.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
24 195 18
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9 thoughts on “Compost: Hidden dangers

  1. Compost area looks so tidy. I am so ashamed of mine. Will have to invest in some of those wooden bins. We have grass snakes around the pond. I’m hoping they haven’t eaten too many of my frogs. Thanks for sharing your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yikes – that would have made me jump about a meter high, for sure! I’m ridiculously afraid of snakes – even the non-poisonous ones. Absolutely an irrational fear, and although I’m working on it, it is still there, after all these years. That’s the kind of surprise I DON’T like!

    Liked by 1 person

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