Allotment composting

Today we don’t have snow! Instead we have torrential rain and gale force winds … can you hear me sighing in despair?

While all I can do is watch the mini-rivers running down the allotment paths, I’ve been trying to plan ahead and one thing that caught my eye was the QR Compost Making method.

QR stands for Quick Return and apparently it’s been a successful way of speeding up compost production since the 1930s. There’s a whole book dedicated to QR here and I think I’m going to give it a go. The herbs in question are nettle, dandelion, chamomile, yarrow, valerian and oak bark. Honey is also included in the formula because it is a powerful activator apparently – and the claim is that a nutrient rich compost can be produced using normal garden waste in a matter of weeks, without turning (and I do hate turning compost) and without needing to add manure. It also talks about a 'closed loop' system which means that the minimum of materials enter or leave the garden and the lowest possible range of resources (including the muscle work of the allotment holder) are expended. Also there’s a foreword from Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association and a donation will be made to the Soil Association for each copy sold.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, January 16, 2010


Blogger Joanna said...

Quite enjoying our snow still, although the -22C was just a bit too cold this morning to get out and do anything. One thing I am beginning to learn is to be in rhythm with the seasons, winter was a time of repairing equipment, crafts and early nights ready for the frantic digging and sowing of Spring. In some cultures they even have marriages in the winter because there is time to celebrate which sounds like good sense to me. So I am relaxing for now, there is nothing really to do.

January 16, 2010 at 3:28 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

I'll be interested to see how you get on with QR composting. I knew that nettles were good for the compost bin, but certainly hadn't heard about honey. We've had rain here today, quite alot actually so it has washed most of the snow away. It's still not digging weather though.

January 16, 2010 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Thanks for the info on the composting method. I went out to Amazon (USA) and found a book by the author you mention for around $7, including shipping (from the UK!), which I think a steal. Of course, it could take several months to get here....anyway, I have an iffy back and a lot of clay, so fast compost with no turning sounds great to me.

January 16, 2010 at 12:47 PM  
OpenID said...

this composting thing sounds interesting so i may check it Joanna's winter so there is plenty of time for reading and stuff!!!!

January 16, 2010 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Mal's Allotment said...

I'll have a look, but I don't think I could agree to putting honey in my compost!

January 18, 2010 at 3:14 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Blimey Joanna -22C! That definitely puts our gentle snow into the shade!

Jo, we have mud instead of snow, I can't see it as much of an advantage to be honest. Mal, I'm not sure about the honey either.

Paula, Tanya we're partly on clay too, which is another reason I'm interested.

January 19, 2010 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Davenport said...

As author of the book ‘Quick Return Compost Making’, it's great to hear that allotment blogger is thinking of giving the QR method try - there is everything to gain and nothing to lose! The method has some precise instructions and rules that should be followed but they are all for good reason and really are common sense. The activator used is also very cheap and for a couple of quid you can buy enough to make 2 tonnes of compost! Even cheaper still, the activator can be made at home by drying and crushing the herbs.

The QR method was invented by Maye Emily Bruce who was one of the most remarkable of the founder members of the Soil Association. Miss Bruce as she was known, excelled in every field where she chose to turn her hand but she is mostly famed for her QR method. The method is characterised by the speed in which the compost is produced (which also gives rise to its name); as little as 4 weeks is claimed by Miss Bruce. I have managed to equal this on one or two occasions but generally I would say a minimum of 6 weeks is more the norm.

I can understand the concern about honey and what a precious resource it is. The amount of honey used is very small - only a teaspoon of the QR activator is required to make a ton of compost. The actual amount of honey in that teaspoon of activator is a very small drop so I think I can allow myself to sleep at night!

QR composting was extremely popular from the 1940’s right through to the 1970’s but these days there seems to be only a few who have heard of it. My book was written with the aim of raising awareness of the QR method and to put QR composting back on the map! So many people have problems making compost and there are some good books on the subject, but most fail to really give a definitive method that can be followed through simple instructions. In my book I have provided a step by step approach complete with photographs to help the gardener. I also think that the reasoning behind the method and theories are important (once you understand why then it actually becomes easier) and these are thoroughly covered. The book explores materials and their preparation, how to make the activator including growing and making the most from the herbs, how to use the compost, its benefits to the soil and tells the incredible story of QR compost and its remarkable inventor.

I will be guest posting to the blog in the spring with some helpful advice on how to make QR compost.

January 22, 2010 at 1:52 AM  
Anonymous easygardener said...

All our Sprouting Broccoli seems to have been damaged by the snow as the plants have withered at the top. First time that has ever happened - and a surprise as they are supposed to be very hardy. Now that the snow has gone a closer look might be in order - just in case there is another reason.

January 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM  

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