Patrick Whitefield's Tips for Seed Saving and Making Compost

Daniel Dobbie
Tuesday, 10th December 2013

Permaculture teacher, Patrick Whitefield shares some more top tips for the garden, this time, looking at how to save seeds and how to make compost.

Patrick shows the best way to dry out bean pods for spring planting and then how to use the bean stalks on the compost heap. 

His top tip is to cut the bean stalks at ground level, leaving the roots in the ground. Because they are full of nitrogen, the soil will benefit.

The stalks can then be used as green matter.

Green matter which is high in nitrogen and moisture is usually mixed 2:1 with brown matter (cardboard, newspaper, dried weeds), which is high in carbon and fibre. Both are needed to make good compost. Patrick however, uses human urine as his magic ingredient so that he can make his compost with equal measures of brown and green matter. Don't forget that ventilation is also important in the decomposing cycle.

Patrick then keeps a plastic cover over the top to prevent the pile getting too much moisture in winter and too dry in summer.

Patrick Whitefield is an experienced permaculture teacher and author of five books, including the permaculture classic The Earth Care Manual. For infomation about his residential and online courses please see

Further resources

Patrick Whitefield's tips for mulching and weeding

Patrick Whitefield on the art of watering seedlings and slug preventation

Preparing your winter crops: Patrick Whitefield on the art of hardening plants

Patrick Whitefield on the art of growing healthy plants


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