Improving Soil in Our New Raised Beds

We’ve made a start on extending the vegetable garden, adding three 10 x 4 ft double height raised beds. After years of being part of a well-worn lawn, the soil would benefit from being improved with organic matter. We emptied most of the contents from one of the large pallet compost bins into a waiting wheelbarrow, the compost wasn’t quite ready but it was lovely all the same – just perfect for mulching and adding nutrients to the dry, hungry soil in our new beds.

One of our German Shepherd dogs certainly likes our compost, I guess she can smell rotting chicken poop. Eww.

I still find it amazing to see the contents of a compost bin change into earthy compost, we add lots of organic matter to our bins such as chicken manure mixed with straw, kitchen waste (vegetable peelings etc), used tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, cardboard, paper, green waste from the vegetable garden, grass clippings, nettle tops, comfrey leaves and horse manure from our village stables when we can get it.

Our bins are full of tiger worms, they’re perfect little composting machines. They adore kitchen scraps and if you watch your compost bin carefully you will see them surface to feed, starting the magical process.

The contents of our compost bin became darker and more like compost towards the bottom, we had to be really cautious with the spade and fork, lots of toads hide in and around our compost bins! I almost speared one by accident, just goes to show how careful you have to be. Now is a good time to empty your compost bins before creatures such as toads and hedgehogs start to look for places to hibernate over winter. Don’t empty them completely, leave some material in the bins for them.

Another magical ingredient for compost bins is leaves. The huge old oak provides these for free, they rot down faster than other leaves. We have a leaf bin too, taking longer to rot down but lovely as a mulch.

Isn’t it a magical, majestic tree? I think it’s wonderful, it makes me think of the green man or ‘The Oak King’. I love to listen to the wind whistling through the branches, at the moment it’s home to lots of nesting wood pigeons.

Plus, it helps to make this lovely stuff:

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14 comments

  1. I agree with Lauren. I have mice in mine rather than toads, and I lifted the cover off this morning to see lots of red worms which is a good sign. I won’t be emptying it until late winter/early spring which for me is the start of another season, and hopefully a better one than this year! xx

  2. Thank you, Flighty x

    The compost in the new beds should rot down nicely in time for spring, I hope next year is a better year too!

  3. Lovely looking stuff – will be really beautiful by next spring – just perfect to grow stuff!
    We have loads of toads in our holding bins and raised beds at the moment as well – also lots of wood mice nests.

  4. We just started a compost bin last spring and it’s just starting to turn into soil. It should be perfect for next spring. We also just got a coop and I’m looking for chickens – more goodies for the compost bin.

  5. I love making compost. It enriches me as well as the soil. Turning it regularly helps it rot down quickly but also helps keep me fit and warm when I do it in the winter! Watch out which leaves you pick. Shiny/evergreens will take forever.

  6. Hello stumblingupwards, thanks for visiting my blog. I only use fallen leaves from decidious trees in autumn. Really lovely as leafmould, a great boost for the soil.

  7. I can’t believe I have reached the day when I get excited by compost! My son despairs of me!
    Yours is looking lovely.
    I just found your blog from Crafty Garden Hoe somim looking forward to having a good morning’s read with my morning tea : )

  8. I love that smell you get with leafmould. Used to have to empty great big stone lined pits of it when I worked at a big estate. They must have been 10ft x 10ft and almost as deep!

  9. A lovely ode to the magic of compost! That is something I really miss, having just moved, we have two full bins already, but will have to wait until next year for there to be anything usable. Am hoping for some green waste compost from the council to help kickstart the veg beds, and then there is the seaweed…

  10. Oh worms in the compost bin, what I would not give for them. We live on crushed granite and are constantly improving our soil with compost made by our chix, but it still is crushed granite. I remember how good compost would be when we lived in the Midwest. I miss it.

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