Everyone has their own way of making the perfect compost heap, and the same applies here at G & G, although the move to more and more flowers has resulted in big changes to the 'Mix'. I have for several years been using enclosed pallets, each heap 3 or 4 pallets square. I have given up turning these large heaps now (phew!), as using a tractor made such a mess without hard standing, and so keep them for 18 months at least.
The sheer volume of woody material coming in from the cutting gardens has meant that I have resurrected my old shredder to help. It had a cheap 'Chonda' engine with serious issues and so this winter I gave up trying to fix it and just replaced the entire engine with a new Villiers one. The mechanics of necessity if you like….
The shredder itself I run without any screens or protectors, so that the material is coarsely shredded and flies out mostly onto the heap itself. This means that rain can penetrate the heap, avoiding large dry areas of intact stems.
I am lucky to have some great materials on hand to add to all this carboniferous forest, such as horse muck, chicken poo, leaves, veg waste and grass clippings. Barrowing up can get a bit hairy at the end of the cycle and in late summer, but you have to resist the temptation to build more and more heaps (especially when they are a trifle 'shanty chic'). All that material soon subsides!
The end result is always surprisingly good and has mulched all 600 roses this year. The incredible amount of seed in the compost has not been the problem I feared, there can be a small annual flush after spreading, but it's not a problem at all.