Friday, May 16, 2014

Did you know it is/was compost awareness week?

Compost is something I do for my garden that I feel really really good about.  In the back of my mind I knew that somehow compost sequestered carbon, but the facts here on Jerry Colby Williams blog make me want to go out straight away and build another compost bin.

My first compost bin was just that - a plastic bin, and it is still going strong - it is about 8 years old now.

  and I worked the compost in that continuously, turning over the compost two or three times a week.  I dont have the room for hot composting, but my gosh I got my mixture humming along pretty nicely.  Some of my bins favourite food is
Browns:
mulched dried leaves from our lychee tree
shredded cardboard and newspaper
Greens:
cut lemongrass leaves
seaweed picked up from the beach
beer waste from the bottom of the beer brewing barrel


 Then I was gifted some gardening money and off I went to pick up a compost tumbler.....  I find this one actually takes a bit more work, and here I thought it would be less work!  This is where kitchen waste goes and it often can get a bit too wet.  When that happens I gather some carboard or shredded paper to soak up the extra moisture.  The tumbling bin can easily get heavy, and that is when I remove some of it and turn that into my old compost bin in the corner.  That is where compost goes to mature.  If I have extra leaves or clippings I add them to that bin as well.  I dig the compost out of the bottom gate of that bin, actually digging a hole right into the dirt under the bin, since once I start mixing, the compost falls into that hole and the earthworms can start doing their thing.
This weekened when I was transferring compost from the tumbler into the bin  I noticed something I have never seen before.  Red wrigglers....they must have come from my in ground worm farms.  This I think is a regular earthworm - surely I would be more likely to have these in the standing bin which actually rests on the ground.  I think the difference might be that this is wetter - note to self - add some moisture to the standing bin.

 Wow!  I love the idea of all these little creatures and micro-organisms travelling around my yard.  I must say I was hesitant to add worms, having such a small garden and hearing stories about other gardeners in this area and the trouble they had with regular worm farms.  It gets very wet and humid in the summer and that is when worm farms can get slimy, smelly and infected with flies.  I did a lot of reading about in ground worm tubes and eventually added some to my garden.  What a great idea....they are insulated from the weather, and survived the flooding rains we had during the cyclone.


I dont harvest the worm wee - I guess that just goes straight into the soil, but I alternate a top bucket between my two worm buckets, and as they move up I can then harvest all the lovely worm castings left behind in the lower bucket. Here you can see one bucket on top of the other.


  I have mostly just been adding this as a side dressing to my greens and they seem to love it.  One of these days I will add some water and make a foliar feed.  I just add kitchen waste to these buckets when I have something I think the worms will find particularly tasty, the rest goes into the tumbling composter.
I will be making up some tutorials on my different compost systems with links on the tutorials page.  If you dont already compost why dont you give it a go?

I think I might actually be a week late on this compost week thing, this is a great facebook page International compost awareness week   or the home page here .

PS I remember after this was posted that I also have an old garbage bin at the back filled with damp shredded leaves  that gets forgotten until it has formed nice crumbly leaf mold.


13 comments:

  1. Wow I didn't know that it was compost awareness week . What a simply wonderful thing to have a special day for. We make hot compost all year round. I can't imagine a better way of getting rid of waste, or a more valuable addition to the garden. thanks for raising awareness of this truly valuable resource.

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    1. I am sure I saw it advertised for different days, would like to be more involved next year as I do think it is easier than people think, and they just need to give it a go.

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  2. Now I feel armed with great info to finally get my compost bin and worm farms started....thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. I never thought I needed worms as well, but am glad that I added them as they do complete the cycle.

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  3. You can't beat home made compost. Sadly we don't have a compost in our garden, due to lack of space, but we do have a chicken run and that is where all of our green waste goes, to be recycled through the chickens. They produce a very good compost, but it tends to be full of weed seeds because my wife collects weeds from nearby fields to supplement their diet!!

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    1. Oh that is funny Nick, yes I think weeds are just part of life... Those bins really dont take up much room at all.

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  4. I didn't know it was compost awareness week either. Funny, it's that for me every week. I love the stuff, so does my garden. Why don't you think about adding some coffee grounds to your compost ..grab them from a local cafe. Worms love them, they contain nitrogen .. They are acidic so don't go overboard! I'm turning a monster cold compost tomorrow and looking forward to it! :)

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    1. I do add coffee grounds when I think about stopping off at the cafe - hope your compost turning went well.

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  5. I know composting is relatively easy but I never seem to do it. However I do make sure all of the autumn leaves fall on garden beds or are swept onto them. I guess that is a form of composting. There are always plenty of worms in my garden.

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    1. Joan,
      Yes we have too many leaves, so some of them are left on the garden to rot naturally. Mulched and mixed with greens they compost faster though, and then that compost can be added where needed.

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  6. Nothing beats good compost! I have a compost bin similar to your first one. We don't stir it nearly enough. I often wondered if those barrels you turn would be easier.

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    1. Deb,
      I used to stir that one at least once a week, but the tumbler is much easier to give a couple of turns, and funnily enough even though it is not on the ground it has lots of earthworms. I find it still needs to sit and mature for a while before being added to the beds.

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  7. "In ground worm tubes".......OK.....another new thing here that I have not heard of.....how exactly do they work? I am not very scientific about composting .....more of the "compost happens" type of gardener.....but everything organic from garden and kitchen goes back into the garden and not out to the rubbish bin. I would love to have a worm bin but I think it would be too much to ask my husband to look after worms while I go traveling for two months. aloha

    PS I knew an old guy who just used a big plastic barrel for his compost....he would just leave it lying on its side out on the lawn and would just roll it around the lawn every day. The compost broke down very quickly. :0)

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