Print Story Cardboard and compost
By Alan Crowe (Wed Jun 30, 2021 at 11:41:15 AM EST) garden (all tags)
Acquired cardboard to add to my compost heap.

I was going to post this under gardening. But there is no gardening topic. This site started when we young, before our bifocals started wearing cardigans, before we started pottering in suburban back gardens.

I try to look after the drying green at the back of the tenement where I live. Those are Scottish terms. A tenement is a block of flats, in American English: a condominium. The drying green is a shared back garden with clothes poles and washing lines.

I used to cut the grass with a little electric lawn mover. But the grass is on the North side of the five story building and only gets direct sunshine very early and very late in the day and only in June. Not enough sunshine for the grass to grow well. Even on the highest setting I was cutting it too short and tilting the ecology away from grass and towards moss.

I've taken to letting the grass grow six inches long and then cutting it with a sickle. It is easy to rake up the long cuttings into a big pile. Is a big pile a compost heap? Maybe, but a pile of pure grass cuttings turns into a soggy, tangled mess, that decomposes anaerobically and stinks.

I'm belatedly learning to use Youtube to find short instructional videos for skills such as gutting sardines, and now: how to compost grass cuttings. The recommendation is 50% Green, 50% brown. Green is grass cuttings. Brown is fallen leaves and twigs. I don't have enough brown, but Youtube tells me to use uncoated cardboard.

Last week, workmen were working on a neighbours bathroom. They left tile-like panels in the stair well for a while and I noticed that they came wrapped in cardboard to avoid getting chipped or scratched in the van. So I asked if I could have their cardboard. Now I have a big pile of cardboard to add to my compost heap. Cheap, uncoated cardboard; the kind that gets soggy and falls apart if it gets wet. Ideal!

Now I'm tearing up two square feet of cardboard to go with each bucket of moss and that I rake up. I've ordered more grass seed to sacrifice to the moss Gods. My plan is to dig over the worst grass, dig in compost, and reseed.

I've done this before, but without compost. The grass comes up a beautiful shade of green and looks healthy in the Autumn. But it dies over winter. I've taken to forking the soil, hoping that the rain will soak in better, tilting the ecology away from moss and towards grass. And I'm hoping that lightening the soil with compost will help. I'll find out in the Spring.

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Cardboard and compost | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)
If only you had Aldi's over there by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jun 30, 2021 at 12:33:02 PM EST
in the spring we picked up a rotating compost barrel for under $40 USD. It's nearly full and almost always steaming, we should get good compost  in a few weeks.

Our neighbor tries to be helpful by cutting our front yard with his electric mower, but he cuts it far too short and leaves brown patches. We like it a bit higher, maybe 2-3 inches. I've told him he doesn't have to mow it, but he keeps mowing it.

The back yard is coming along nicely, it's taken several years. I think putting in a new garden in a sunnier spot will really pay off for the tomatoes and basil.

Sand and Grit by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Jun 30, 2021 at 12:59:15 PM EST
If you can get hold of some sharp sand and fine grit and dig that in along with the compost it will help the drainage. If you've got people walking across it regularly the organics will tend to pack down, the sand and grit will keep the stucture at least partly open.

I've used the output of my paper shredder when I've had a lot of grass clippings and not enough branch prunings. Works fine although you do tend to spend some time picking bits of envelope window out of the finished product...

mossy lawn by misslake (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Jul 08, 2021 at 08:25:10 AM EST
what is your subsoil and bedrock like?
where i am in ontario, the subsoil is glacial till. it tends to be slightly alkaline, but the high sand and clay content can result in topsoils becoming slightly acidic over time.
even in lawns with enough sun and good drainage, moss grows where the soil gets too acidic. in general, moss prefers forest soils. i have found that an application of dolomitic lime or gypsum sand works miraculously to favour the growth of grass (prefers alkaline soil) over moss.
compost, while full of lots of good stuff can often be slightly acidic or just neutral and unbuffered. a sprinkle of lime or gypsum twice a year might help with making your mossy lawn into a grassy meadow.

Thank you for the advice by Alan Crowe (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jul 08, 2021 at 01:19:44 PM EST
My flat is in the center of a city. I don't know the history of the site. My flat was built in 1875 on what might be a brown field site. Digging only a few inches finds a lot of stones and clinker. Also broken glass. One of the shops on the ground floor used to be glass shop. It might have been that for decades, and I suspect that sometimes they just dumped clinker from their furnace and broken glass, onto the drying green.

There is clay but not sand. When I fork the soil, hoping to improve drainage, I sometimes hit fist sized rocks. At one point I hit a granite boulder. It shows no signs of moving. It is either very large, or the tip of an outcrop of bed rock. I've tried using an angle grinder and a diamond cutting disk to cut pieces off it. My plan is to take off six inches so that it is a foot beneath the surface, then fill the hole with compost, grass it over and forget about it.

I've wondered about getting the soil analyzed. I was thinking about finding out what nutrients it lacked. But acidity is sounds like a good place to start. I wonder if I can get a gardeners version of litmus paper? Then I would have a better clue what to do.

[ Parent ]
Language by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Jul 08, 2021 at 11:12:13 AM EST
In American English, "tenement" is also a block of apartments, but only very shitty ones.   I'm reminded of how the word "mansion" was borrowed into Japanese (マンション), where it means apartment like you'd find in a Scottish tenement.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Cardboard and compost | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)