This week in the garden, Autumn is a good time to take a closer look at our compost bays, and composting. The word compost is used in a few different ways, so just to be clear, here we are not talking about the kinds of compost you can buy from garden centres which have names such as ‘multipurpose compost’, ‘ericaceous compost’, or ‘potting compost.’

We are talking about the compost you can make at home and which we make in the garden involving a process through which we recycle our kitchen and garden waste aka ‘green waste’ into compost. This compost is used to feed the soil which in turn feeds the plants and is the basis of organic gardening.

This kind of compost making is simple, and is something everyone can do. It is not expensive, and the main ingredients are time and patience. Sometimes people feel a bit daunted about how to make compost so here we will look a the basic principles, and once you are familiar with these the rest should be easy.

Understanding compost:  Compost is made from organic material, dead plants and animals and the waste products of animals. Many people are aware of the use of horse, cow and chicken droppings which once well rotted can be applied to the garden. Basically anything that was once alive, or a by-product of a living process can an ingredient in composting.

The natural composting process can be seen on the forest floor by cutting down through the different layers of the naturally forming soil beneath your feet. On the very top layer you will find fallen leaves. Then as you go deeper into the soil you will see these leaves become less and less distinct as they breakdown, until finally you will not be able to make out any leaf shapes as all you have is a rich dark earth. It is this earth, also known as humus that gardeners are aiming for when making compost. Funnily enough well rotted compost often smells similar to the scent of the woodland floor.

Making compost: When making compost we need three basic ingredients, air, moisture, and garden waste. In order to speed up the composting process it helps to have the garden waste, plants stems and vegetable remains cut up finely so they will breakdown evenly and quickly. Cut up finely in this case means pieces of no longer than 5cm.

Compost turning is the way that we ensure that air is incorporated into the compost heap. Air is needed for the respiring bacteria whose job it is to breakdown the garden waste.

Water or moisture is also needed as otherwise dry plant material will not breakdown easily.

Rearranging our compost bays: In the garden we have two areas with compost bays, one under the oak tree next to the bee hives, and the other in the lower garden beyond the lower greenhouse. Both of the areas have a number of different bays. In each group of compost bays we have designated one bay as the ‘in tray’. This will be for fresh garden waste that has not yet been chopped up finely. So if you do not have time to chop up any garden waste finely, please always put this into one of these ‘in trays’ for later processing.

NB: If you have fruit and veg waste from your kitchen that you cannot compost at home, do bring these to us but only on the days we are open for public visiting:  Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun 10.30am to 4.30pm.  We also only want your kitchen waste if it is not meat, if it is raw and if it is not cooked – thank you.  Ask a session leader or volunteer to show you where the compost ‘intrays’ are please and leave the waste there (but not the bags or utensils you use to transport the kitchen waste in – take these away please!) Also, we have had people kindly (humpf!) dropping their kitchen waste over the fence in plastic bags at times we are not open. The foxes and squirrels then find them – and tear it up and make a right mess, which is not nice for the person opening up in the morning to find… Come when we are open please.

If you are interested in getting more stuck into compost, we are running a monthly workshop called The Composters’ Year – a free Sunday workshop where you can learn the secrets of good composting. This course will run on the second Sunday in the month starting in November and continuing until July 2022. Book here https://www.brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk/event/the-composters-year-4/

This week we will continue working on the wildlife pond and this can only be by getting into the pond. If you would like to do some pond weeding please bring a pair of shorts and sandals, a towel and a change of clothes! It can be good fun weeding the pond, but be warned you will DEFINITELY get muddy and wet doing this job!

In other BPCG news, There are still places for our Windows to Nature film and media project. Join Joshua for a workshop on Saturday 16th October 11am to 3pm (with lunchbreak) on how to use BPCG as a resource for your own digital projects focusing on the environment. You’ll discuss technology and gear (or the lack of it), the best way to shoot plants and animals and hopefully find inspiration for your own projects or collaborations with other volunteers. Sign up here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_01og-7HR2Pp91PSF5GXEeLTUO1yBG_oeTjBkLzzCgU/edit?usp=sharing

Jelena’s Autumn Fermentation workshops are up on the website.  These are on 30th October, 13th November and 27th November 2pm to 4.30pm.  If you’d like to volunteer to help Jelena, please contact kate@brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk. You will be needed from 1.15pm to 5pm.  If you’d like to book onto the course, go here https://www.brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk/event/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=list&tribe-bar-search=fermentation

Founding member of OC, Brixton rapper Stinx, filmed a music video at BPCG in the summer which you can see now.  It’s got nearly 100,000 views on Youtube already. Have a look yourself here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjo-Fk_Cp3E

With the recent balmy Autumn weather, Natural Connection are aiming to keep outdoor yoga classes going a bit longer this Autumn.  So come and try out Slow Flow Yoga from 10 – 11.30 and Gentle Yoga 12 to 1pm this Saturday and the next on the Decking in the lower garden. Book in advance here https://www.naturalconnection.org.uk/book-a-class

In other newsHealthy Living Platform are looking for a freelance Community Gardener with community gardening and teaching experience, and the knowledge to help us take our projects forward.
It is essential you have:
-In-depth knowledge of how to grow and maintain green spaces
-Enthusiasm for growing and planting food
-Experience of delivering sessions and training- particularly with families & young children.
Please email info@healthylivingplatform.org for details of how to apply or call or text Helen on 07701 36551 for an information chat.
Please get in touch by October 15th to apply.

DaWNN CC and Lambeth Friends of the Earth are holding an event on Managing Climate Change on Sat 9th October 10 am to 5pm. Hear about what is happening in our community and how to help. This event is your chance to hear from experts, politicians, young people, and inspiring community groups on how climate change affects us in Lambeth and Southwark, and to personally engage in shaping our low carbon future.

Tickets are free, but there are costs to organising the event. If you feel you can donate through eventbrite, it will help a lot. For more detail on amazing speakers, book here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/together-we-create-change-tickets-172619990037

Looking forward to seeing you soon at the Greenhouses