This Month’s Guerilla Gardening Article

Guerilla-Garden-Gnome-Crap-happens

 Take my word for it, if you get together with a bunch of “master” gardeners and ask “What’s the best method of constructing a compost heap” you will receive a bunch of very different answers with very strong opinions on what does and doesn’t work. After much discussion and research I’ve decided that most of it sounds like very hard work and some of what I’ve been told (or even read) is down right weird! One elderly gentleman told me that if you  “pee on the compost pile it will add plenty of nitrogen”. I’m all about Guerilla Garden Adventures but this is not one I’m willing to embark upon…so I decided to surf the internet to do some research on composting. On some blogs it was even mentioned that human hair is a rich source of nitrogen and can help deter pests. As a Guerrilla Gardener on an Adventure I have come to my own conclusions on compost, none of which involves any type of body waste or hair trimmings!

1- The Heap Method:
In order to use this method of composting, you will simply need to dump organic material in a hidden corner of the yard. Children can easily be involved with this process as long as you don’t make it out to be a chore. One guerilla gardener I know (who shall remain nameless) conned her children into willingly taking out the compost by telling them that she would buy them a sled to use on it when the pile was big enough.
To actually create a pile of really good compost you will need to accumulate a heap of layered green and brown material (see list below), then add a compost starter or you can just add some garden soil to help jump-start the decomposition of the organic materials. Water it, stir it and you will have some very fine compost.
There is a potential downside to this method. It just so happens that when some guerilla gardeners (not to mention any names) tried the heap method, the pile quickly became a breeding ground for the most intriguing collection of weeds, thistles and grass. Also some uninvited guests were rumored to have shown up with their freeloading rat faced friends for the free daily buffet.
Guerilla Garden Solution: Sprinkle some flower seeds on the compost pile, call it your “wildflower garden” and leave well enough alone; or you could sprinkle some grass seed on it and then tell the neighbors that it is a giant mole hill that no exterminator is willing to take on.

2-The Composting Bin Method
Fancy very expensive plastic composting bins can be found in almost any gardening magazine or garden center. It’s a tidy, organized container to put your organic household scraps while still being environmentally friendly.
Guerilla Gardener’s Solution: If you simply must have a tidy compost option and don’t want to spend a fortune, you can always go all Guerilla Gardener! Buy a round large plastic garbage can with a lid, from a store in your area whose name ends in the word “mart” or possibly “depot”. Then drill holes in the bottom of container and place your compost material inside. An ideal blend would involve alternating layers of soft/green material and hard/brown material (see list below). Roll it along the ground twice a week or so, keep the contents damp, and you’ll have rich compost in no time.
Note: You may not want to place this bin near your house as decomposing material is not what you want to smell on a hot summer day…just saying.

3-Too lazy to start a compost pile? Or maybe you live in a townhouse where they don’t allow composting. Deploy Guerrilla Composting Tactics!
Discretely place some organic trash right into the garden, all year round. Banana and vegetable peels ground up in the blender and used coffee grounds are all excellent things to bury directly into the gardening soil without the Strata Nazis being the wiser……if you know what I mean.

Green and Brown Material List:
Note: For best results your composter or pile will require a balance of carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) materials, with the ratio ranging between 25:1 and 30:1 for the optimum combination for rapid decomposition.

Soft and Green
Livestock manure
Fruit and vegetable peels
Grass clippings
Green leaves
Strips of turf
Alfalfa
Peat moss
Seedless weeds
Coffee grounds/tea bags
Seaweed

Hard and Brown
Wood chips
Ground-up twigs
Sawdust
Pruning scraps
Brown leaves
Straw
Shredded bark

 Stay away from these:
oil and fat
animal feces
plastics
meat or fish scraps
dairy products
bones
unchopped wood
treated or pressurized wood
weeds that have gone to seed or that can spread by runners

The bottom line is that no matter how you compost, it’s a benefit to the planet so pour yourself a drink and high-five yourself for getting Sh*t done!

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Comments
  1. Ariadne Hull. says:

    Down the road from my village is brand new housing estate. It’s a barren looking place, so I decided to guerilla garden it using my favoured gardening material – spring bulbs. I just love them, they’re so easy.

    I ordered 40 muscari armenicum bulbs from eBay and planted them all on a boring grass verge down the lane that looked very sad, with ugly wooden new homes signs in it.
    The main road is resplendent with golden daffs so I thought the verge being purple would be a nice contrast.

    It’s such a thrill to know they those 40 muscari bulbs will colonise that boring little verge and for years and years to come that shock of blue-purple will be there every spring to greet all the new home owners everything they turn off down their lane.

    It also helps the bees tremendously, of course.

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