Composting Conversations

The secret to good gardening is good soil and the secret to good soil is compost. 

I have been making compost for as long as I can remember, saving kitchen scraps, transforming garden waste and recycling material that many people throw in the bin.  We all inherit family habits.  Some good, some bad …. Composting is a habit handed to me by my mother and grandmother, a habit for which I am thankful and a family tradition I am intent on handing onto the next generation. I am already educating my grandchildren on the wonders of worms.

The chooks smorgasbord, my little helpers, Henny and Penny, are always about when I am moving the compost heap, scratching and searching for worms, insects and garden spiders.
A smorgasbord for my little helpers, Henny and Penny, they are always busy beside me when I am moving the compost heap, scratching and searching for worms, insects and garden spiders.

Compost is the natural end product of a well-managed organic process. When properly balanced, waste material will break down to a sweet earthy mix that you can spread across your garden beds. It will reinvigorate tired soil and reward you with a healthy garden that is filled with wonderful fruits, vegetables, flowers and foliage. Compost that is well managed will be filled with micro-organisms that brings balance your soil.

At Arundel I make three different types of compost and each requires a different approach.

 1:  The Worm Farm – needing little space and offering liquid food and castings

2:  Cool Compost Bins – requires patience, time and a little tending

3:  Hot Compost Heaps – the fastest method and excellent for bulk production

My coming blogs will focus on each process and the collection and recycling of various domestic waste products. Hopefully it will help you decide the method that is best for your garden. By using all three methods I get the best from my waste and maximize my compost output, but these techniques are not the only ones available. What is important is to respond to your own situation.

Factors that will determine the system that is right for you will be how much space you have, materials available and how much waste your household produces, or can find. You will need to experiment and discover the method, or mix of systems that works for you.

Worms massing on a zucchini feeding frenzy. Oversized zucchini were cut in half and placed flesh side down in the worm farm. Within 10 days the worms were digesting the pithy flesh and within 3 weeks all that was left was a papery skin.
A worm feeding frenzy inside the worm farm.  Oversized zucchini were cut in half and placed flesh side down.  I was amazed, within 10 days worms were digesting the flesh and within 3 weeks only a papery skin was left .

A word of encouragement; even though I have been making compost for a long time I have had failures – a sludgy worm farm, stinky cold compost, strange dry areas next to wet areas inside bins and hot heaps that have turned cold. Each time things go ‘wrong’ they can be turned around and with a few simple steps compost can be brought back to life.

To help everyone along the ‘Composting Road’ I will include ‘Compost Remedies’,  you will learn some fixes from my failures.

My next post will focus on making and managing a worm farm.