For most people, the Chelsea chop is done at the same time as the Chelsea Flower Show, from where it got its name.  It is the cutting pack of perennials which are getting a little untidy to keep them looking good for the rest of the year. 

Before the Chelsea chop


I am usually a little late doing the chop since my garden opening is only a couple of weeks after Chelsea and there really isn’t enough time for the plants to grow back and look good.  So, usually I do a chop just after the opening.  However this year everything is so late that only the pratense geraniums had flowered by the time of the garden opening, so I decide to wait a little longer.  

Now, a month later, it is time for the chop.  I had finally got fed up with the untidiness.  My main concern is that the current dry weather will mean that the plants will take a while to recover – still the geraniums were looking so untidy, there really was no option. 

Ruby found her kong


When I started clearing, I found one of our kongs under the geraniums.  They are usually confined to the house, but obviously this time one had managed to get left outside.   Ruby was over the moon to have her kong back.  We had a few retrieves and then I managed to persuade her that it should stay indoors for a while at least. 

Just as an indication of how late things are this year, I noticed today that a dierama is just coming into bud.  These lovely blooms have often been out for the NGS opening and this year it looks as if we will have to wait at least another week to enjoy the beauty of these pendulous flowers. 

After the chop - compost added


As a direct result of the chop, I decided that I really should get on and empty my compost bin.  It was a long, hard job as I had to sift the contents to remove the larger woody bits that had not yet composted down sufficiently.  However I managed to get a huge amount of compost out of it and just four buckets of woody material.  The compost went straight onto my beds.  The extra mulch will help retain moisture as and when we actually get some rain and it will give the worms some more material to drag down into the soil and continue to improve it.  

Cylindrical compost bin


The buckets of woody material are now back in the bin along with the result of my chop.  Given the amount of heat that was coming out of my storage bags after just one day, I should soon have another lot of compost to return to the soil – just so long as I remember to turn it daily as the instructions say.

I’ve added a new article on “Canine Waste” – this is one of those topics which we all have to think about, but no one wants to talk about.

I like it when my compost bin is full – it feels like the garden’s way of telling me that it has had enough cutting back for a while.

I used to have two wooden compost bins but found it took so long to turn my green waste into compost. This was basically because it was just too much work to continually empty it to turn it. I would think over the seven years that I had the bins, I got about a bag’s worth of compost out of them. So when the wood finally rotted away, I had a decision to make.

My inital thought was to pay for the green waste bags that the council supply. It just seemed the easy solution. All we had to do was remember to put the bags out for collection once every two weeks. Fortunatley we live in a cul-de-sac and the lorry always came at lunch time. On a number of occassions, we suddenly remembered what day it was when we saw the lorry pass by as we ate our lunch. There was then a mad dash to put the bag out before the lorry had time to turn around and come past again.

I used the green bags for a couple of years, even investing in a second bag as I had so much to come out of the garden, especially at peak periods such as the end of summer. But all the while I did this, the thought that I was paying to throw away something valuable just niggled and niggled at me. I suppose part of the problem was knowing (from my perspective) how much hard work composting was.

Eventually, earlier this year, I decided to invest in a tumbling composter. Turning was going to be easy :). They promised you could make compost in two weeks (in ideal cirumstances). Well, I’m not in a position to hold enough material to always empty it and then fill it again, but I could manage to make sure that everything that goes into it has been through my shredder and turning it is a lovely quick job – just six revolutions a day – well, every day I remember. I have already had bags of compost out of it. It can be a bit of a pain sieving out the bits that haven’t composted enough yet, but a lot of that is because initially I wasn’t strict enough with myself about ensuring that everything had been through the shredder. I have learnt my lesson.

I really enjoy the shredding part of the job. It is strangely satisfying to see a huge mound of green waste turn into a much smaller mound of shreddings. The other thing is that I am constantly amazed by the dogs when I shred. The shredder lives in the garage and some time ago we decided to teach the dogs that they couldn’t come into the garage because there are tools and chemicals in there that could be dangerous to them. So now the dogs stay at the open door of the garage watching me work and waiting for me to come out and play with them.

On one of my journeys between the shredder and compost bin tonight, I found that Ruby had brought a toy outside. Normally she is very good and understands that her toys live inside, but today the ragger was obviously in need of a trip out doors. When I asked her to pick it up, she showed what a good gundog she is and immediately did so. She took it indoors as asked, but then wanted to come out again with it still in her mouth. She thought I wanted her rather than the toy inside. Thankfully after me removing the toy from her mouth a couple of times and gently laying it on the floor and inviting her outside she eventually got the message and was parted from her toy – until we all came indoors again.

Now, all I have to do is wait for a couple of weeks and then I will have some more compost and the process can start all over again :).