Compost Time

compost heap 1

compost heap 3

compost 4

 compost heap 5

Compost is very simple to make.  If you do it the right way.  Honestly I own two of the black bin systems and the only thing I have successfully created in them was a mouse plague.  Recently at Gardenfest, free workshops were offered showing simple methods of creating compost piles, sustainable living and worm farms.  I attended all of them.

Having my Cert III in Horticulture I know all the facts about creating compost, the C:N ratios  and facts and figures, but I’d be buggered if I could ever successfully create a proper hot compost.  Alas the workshop came to the rescue.  I was just doing it wrong. 

Compost relies on the right amount of matter in the right ratios to successfully work.  Say what?  Alot of ‘brown’ matter such as sugar cane mulch, leaves, decomposed grass clippings or even lucerne mulch, is needed compared to the ‘nitrogen’ matter such as chicken litter, food scraps, green cuttings, green grass clippings and manures.  See here for information. (A link is so much easier than 20 pages of facts and figures) 

Most black bin systems people (like me) chuck in their food scraps and it ends up being a big slimy mouse filled mess.  Why?  The food scrapes are not being balanced out with carbon (C) rich matter.  For every bucket full of food scrapes, several buckets of C matter should be added.  Our food scraps go to the worm farm or the chooks.

With this newly acquired  knowledge I have built my first 1 x 1 x 1m compost pile.  It needs to be big for it to create enough heat in itself to work.  (the heat is created by micro organisms)  In it is lucerne mulch, sugar cane mulch from the chook pen, straw and chicken litter, green plant cuttings, grass cuttings, blood and bone and most importantly comfrey leaves.  Comfrey leaves act as an compost activator.

These ‘ingredients’ are laid down in layers like a cake and after each layer it is lightly watered.   The chimney is placed in the middle of the pile near the beginning to help get air into the pile.  It is removed when the pile is complete (built).

The compost should be getting hot in the next few days and when it starts to cool down I will turn it (be sure the middle goes to the outside and the outside to the middle as obviously the middle is the hottest)   and the process will begin again.  A few other points to remember, the heap must not get too wet, cover it if rain is expected.  Also it must not get too dry, a watering to dampen it all maybe needed every few days.  Better yet water it will diluted urine to boost the process even more!

Yes this process is not for everyone and I did have to buy my lucerne mulch.  But the end result should be alot better than what comes out of a bag at the nursery.  You know I will keep you all posted on how it goes.