Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The waste cycle - composting

Rose Arbour in Cottage Garden, Climbing Rosa, Shrub Rosa, Buddleia & Lavandula (Lavender) by Georgia Glynn-smith
Rose Arbour in Cottage Garden, Climbing Rosa, Shrub Rosa, Buddleia & Lavandula (Lavender)

As it is not raining presently, I thought I would go and check the contents of the compost heaps and see how its cooking.

It smelt a bit on the acid side so having come back in, I have shredded some correspondence and newspapers and added it. I also checked the worm population who seem to be multiplying and quite happy about 20 cm lower in the bin. The second bin is a bit dry so will be adding more wet stuff. ( I also occasionally ask the boys to pee in the compost heap....helps too).

What I put in the compost bins :

Fruit and vegetable peelings and leaves
tea leaves/ tea bags and coffee grounds
fallen leaves
grass clippings
soft prunings( hardwood gets shredded and added in layers, or saved as logs)
weeds (use only young weeds; those with seed, or about to set seed, are better disposed of in the garbage bin)
cow and horse manures
ash (from open fireplaces)
vacuum cleaner contents (synthetic carpet will not break down)
human hair ( from hairbrushes and haircutting)
A small amount of chicken manure and straw as that heats the heap up nicely in winter.
toilet rolls, inner tubes of rolls, cereal packets( shredded).

What I do not to put in the compost bins with alternatives :

It is important that the heap is not treated simply as a dump.
Meat, fish, chicken, dairy products & cooking oils - these may attract vermin such as mice and other pests. ( limited amount goes in bokashi bin)
Non-living things such as plastics, bottle tops, food wrappers, metals etc ( get separated and recycled)
Diseased plants
Fruit fly infested fruit
Pet droppings: these may contain diseases that can affect humans and other pets. There are things on the market that deal with this waste but I have not ventured there yet.

How do you compost?

A good mixture of the above-mentioned materials ('what to put in a compost') is the start to a good compost. It is best not to add too much of the one thing. Balance is the key.
The smaller the pieces, the faster they break down. Chop up larger and tougher items before they go in the bin.
Occasionally add a thin (3-5cm) layer of soil to help things move along. The addition of manure will also help the compost break down more quickly. I add the compost from plant pots, seedlings that have not taken etc, as well as the contents of collected growbags.
The compost should be regularly turned over to help it to break down faster.

That is how the magical black stuff is created. I spread mine around the fruit trees and dig it in the soil later in the year and then.....

start all over again.

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