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Posts tagged ‘composting’

Super Soil Skills for Happy Veggies: Okines # 2

HANDS-ON LEARNING, EQUIPPING YOU WITH THE SKILLS TO GROW FOOD IN YOUR OWN HOME.

We’re partnering with Okines Community Garden in Dodges Ferry to bring you a special 6-part series of hands-on permaculture skills. This is workshop #2, Super Soil Skills for Happy Veggies and it goes hand-in-hand with #3 Grow Your Own Food. You might have heard that “good soil” is essential to a thriving, resilient garden, but what is “good soil” and how do we make it? Join us to learn the foundations and get you growing your own food at home – skills that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

If you live in the South East coastal region, you might be eligible for a phenomenal subsidy* to access these courses. To access this discount please type your postcode into the “coupon” field at checkout. If your postcode fall subsidised area, your ticket price will be reduced to $150 before you pay.

YOU’LL GET TO LEARN ALL ABOUT…

  • Soil: If you want to grow good food, you’re going to need to know about soil – this is the key to nutritious food production. We’ll introduce you to the soil food web and explore a range of soil preparation methods for different contexts.
  • Compost: Learn about a range of compost techniques and help build a big compost pile.
  • Improving soil fertility: We’ll look at a range of DIY techniques you can create at home to improve your soil and plant health, including worm farms and liquid fertilisers.
  • Garden beds and tools: Help prepare a garden bed, and get to know tools for weed management and planting.

WHO SHOULD COME TO THIS WORKSHOP?

We’ve designed this workshop as an introduction for folks wanting to get started in growing their own food and for people looking for some extra guidance in refining their soil skills. To round out your learning, we recommend you take the next course too, Grow Your Own Food where we cover the essential skills and knowledge required for veggie growing to set you up for success in your garden. 

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • Fully catered  – it’s going to be delicious,
  • Some solid time in the Okines’s Community Garden where you’ll see strategies you can apply to your small or large garden,
  • A Soil testing kit.
  • Extensive course notes on everything we cover over the weekend, and
  • Skills and knowledge, useful for the rest of your life!

CATERING

Our caterers will spoil you with food to fill your belly, warm your hearts and inspire you to grow your own. And, of course, we can accommodate any dietary requirements.

Nestled in the Southern Beaches community of Dodges Ferry, Okines Community Garden is an inspiring place to learn, share knowledge and contribute directly to the wellbeing of the land and the people it supports. The gardens consist of mature fruit trees, over 30 raised veggie beds, chickens, bees and an outdoor kitchen providing a hub for shared outdoor meals and a workshop space. ‘The Garden’ is connected to Okines Community House – which provides added space for learning and undercover workshop needs.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

You’ll be provided with clear directions on how to get there prior to the course.

YOUR TEACHERS

Nadia Danti brings years of market gardening experience and has travelled the world working with some of the best growers out there to learn the skills she needed. Nadia is passionate about soil health and understanding the ecosystem under our feet, as well as supporting people to connect to their local food system and empowering them to grow some of their own food in whatever sized space they have!

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James DaCosta has worked on a huge range of small farms across Tasmanian including running the Hobart City Farm for 6 years (since closed). Originally from NW Tasmania, he was reared on the rich red soils of that region where he grew large and strong like a Kennebec (potato). He is a gardener, bee keeper, and permaculture designer. A natural teacher, James has a knack for inspiring and equipping people with the skills they need to get growing!

 

 

Greg Lawson has 10 years of experience teaching in commercial design but in recent years has turned towards small scale, sustainable food production, organic farming and permaculture. Greg spent 4 years in the Huon Valley growing medium-scale commercial garlic crops as well as running a small, part-time market garden on the same farm and selling the produce at weekly farmers markets in and around Huonville. Through this process, he has developed a passion for setting up low maintenance, no-dig gardens with a focus on low water systems, building healthy soil. He works two days a week at Okines Community garden and is setting up his own off-grid farm on the edge of Dodges Ferry. Studying the ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ course with Goodlife Permaculture in 2015 was a game-changer in terms of his outlook on food production, community, garden design and the key principles that are the foundation of permaculture.

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Firstly, thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable and educational course. As experienced growers, we were impressed that you covered so many areas so that inexperienced and experienced growers could walk away with something of value. Thank you so much everyone. You are great bunch!

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CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family – alternatively you’re welcome to put it towards one of our future courses.

Covid-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu-like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – contact us beforehand to discuss options.

Subsidies and Discounts

We have partnered with Okines to present this series of workshops for their region. Thanks to Okines, if you live in the Lower South East coast of Tasmania, you will qualify for a significant subsidy – each course will cost you just $150. We strongly encourage people living within the region to enrol, but these courses are also accessible to anyone that wants to join us! Areas that qualify for a subsidy extend from Sorell, to Swansea and down the coast to the whole peninsular, incorporating Dodges Ferry, Carlton, Primrose Sands and Dunalley.

*To get the discount, please enter your postcode in the “COUPON” section – if you are in a qualifying area, and it will automatically make your course $150.00.

**WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING? Whether you are full-fee-paying or on the subsidised rate, if you purchase all 6 courses (see the full list below), you can get an extra 15% off the second series! To do this, buy the first three, then email us at admin@goodlifepermaculture.com.au and we will give you the special code. Huzzah for accessible learning!

Sign up to the Okines Series and get skills!

Series A: Available to book now

  1. Introduction to Permaculture
  2. Super Soil Skills (take this with #3 to become a gun gardener)
  3. Grow Your Own Food (perfect followup to #2)

Series B: Coming soon – 15% off Series 2 if you purchase all 6 courses**

  1. Beekeeping for Beginners
  2. Eat your Harvest: Ferments and cheese making
  3. Homemade Herbal Remedies and soap

Looking for something else? We run lots of workshops – register your interest here and we’ll let you know what’s coming up.

 

 

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Free Home Composting Workshop: Hobart May

Learn how to compost your food waste at home for free!

In collaboration with the City of Hobart, we’re very happy to announce more free composting workshops for YOU to support you to compost your food waste at home and keep it out of landfill where it becomes a stinky, nasty pollutant.

SOLD OUT

BECAUSE….. Did you know that food waste comprises nearly half of the rubbish in an average household rubbish bin and that up to (and over) 40% of landfills across Australia consist of pure food waste. Yuck!  Once in landfill, food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

So if you compost your food waste you’re diverting it from landfill and transforming it into nutrient-dense compost. Perfect for growing a great veggie patch in your own home or community garden!

THIS WORKSHOP WILL COVER HOW TO COMPOST FOOD WASTE WITH:

  • Chickens,
  • Small compost bins,
  • Large compost bays and piles,
  • Compost worm farms,
  • and more!

YOUR VENUE

This workshop is being held at Mathers House at 108 Bathurst St, Hobart on a Sunday at the same time Farm Gate Market is happening directly out the front. Because of this you will be unable to drive directly to the front door. Instead, park in the Melville St carpark and walk across the road.

YOUR COMPOST TEACHER

Hannah Moloney is the director of Good Life Permaculture and their lead educator and designer with *many* years of experience in composting. She’s worked with Cultivating Community and the City of Yarra running innovative community composting programs plus a number of home composting pilot projects with the City of Hobart. Passionate about composting food waste, Hannah educates people on how to harness this precious resource and transform this kitchen waste into garden gold!

COVID-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – please contact us beforehand to notify us if this is the case so we can pass on your place to someone else.

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Free Home Composting Workshop: Hobart Feb

Learn how to compost your food waste at home for free!

In collaboration with the City of Hobart, we’re very happy to announce more free composting workshops for YOU to support you to compost your food waste at home and keep it out of landfill where it becomes a stinky, nasty pollutant.

 

BECAUSE….. Did you know that food waste comprises nearly half of the rubbish in an average household rubbish bin and that up to (and over) 40% of landfills across Australia consist of pure food waste. Yuck!  Once in landfill, food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

So if you compost your food waste you’re diverting it from landfill and transforming it into nutrient-dense compost. Perfect for growing a great veggie patch in your own home or community garden!

THIS WORKSHOP WILL COVER HOW TO COMPOST FOOD WASTE WITH:

  • Chickens,
  • Small compost bins,
  • Large compost bays and piles,
  • Compost worm farms,
  • and more!

YOUR VENUE

This workshop is being held at Mathers House at 108 Bathurst St, Hobart on a Sunday at the same time Farm Gate Market is happening directly out the front. Because of this you will be unable to drive directly to the front door. Instead, park in the Melville St carpark and walk across the road.

YOUR COMPOST TEACHER

Hannah Moloney is director of Good Life Permaculture and their lead educator and designers with *many* years of experience in composting. She’s worked with Cultivating Community and the City of Yarra running innovative community composting programs plus a number of home composting pilot projects with the City of Hobart. Passionate about composting food waste, Hannah educates people how to harness this precious resource and transform this kitchen waste into garden gold!

COVID-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – please contact us beforehand to notify us if this is the case so we can pass on your place to someone else.

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Free Home Composting Workshop in Kingston

Learn how to compost your food waste at home for free!

In collaboration with Kingborough Waste Service, we’re very happy to host a series of free one-hour composting workshops for YOU to get you composting your food waste at home and keep it out of landfill.

 

BECAUSE….. Did you know that food waste comprises nearly half of the rubbish in an average household rubbish bin and that up to (and over) 40% of landfills across Australia consist of pure food waste. Yuck!  Once in landfill, food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

So if you compost your food waste you’re diverting it from landfill and transforming it into nutrient-dense compost. Perfect for growing a great veggie patch in your own home or community garden!

THIS WORKSHOP WILL COVER HOW TO COMPOST FOOD WASTE WITH:

  • Chickens,
  • Small compost bins,
  • Large compost bays and piles,
  • Compost worm farms,
  • and more!

YOUR VENUE

This workshop is being held at the new Kingsborough Community Hub (in the Multipurpose Hall), at Goshawk Way, Kingston. Please arrive 5 minutes early so we can start on time.

YOUR COMPOST TEACHER

Anton Vikstrom is Director of Good life Permaculture, an Environmental Scientist, a permaculture designer/educator and a whiz composter! With over 20 years of home composting experience under his belt, there’s not much he doesn’t know when it comes to turning your kitchen waste into garden gold.

 

 

COVID-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – please contact us beforehand to notify us if this is the case so we can pass on your place to someone else.

 

LOOKING TO LEARN OTHER HANDS-ON SKILLS?

We run lots of workshops – register your interest here and we’ll let you know what’s coming up.

Food Waste Composting Video

Food waste composting – it can be a baffling affair, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a glorious, slightly magical process to help facilitate.

We’ve just popped up another little backyard video as part of our Covid-19 Crisis Gardening series, showing three ways people can compost their food waste – you can now watch it here.

A little disclaimer – it’s so hard for me to put this very brief overview up as I know there’s a million more bits of information that I missed out on telling y’all. For example, things to NOT put in a small compost bin (as seen above) include:

  • Weedy plants, i.e. runner grasses, oxalis and seeds from invasive species. As it’s a cold compost they wont break down and you’ll end up spreading them everywhere!
  • Diseased plants – if you’re plant’s sick, bin or burn it instead of putting it into your compost bin.
  • Large bits of meat/bones.
  • Glossy paper/magazines (too much heavy ink).
  • Some tea bags have polypropylene plastics – check with the brand if you’re not sure.

So be sure to dig a bit deeper into some of our free resources below for a lot more information and inspiration for you to wrap your beautiful brains around.

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Home Compost Booklet

We are pleased to finally be able to share this little bit of news with you. This year we were lucky to work with the City of Hobart and local illustrator Rachel Tribout to create this free booklet all about Home Composting!

As part of their Zero Waste Strategy, we’ve been collaborating with the City of Hobart to run free compost workshops for hundreds of Hobart folk this year – 420 folks to be exact over six workshops. Half way though these, we decided to turn my student notes into a proper awesome book to make them more accessible and beautiful. This is the result which you can now download for free from the Council website.  

And here’s a little peak inside some of the pages…

It’s our hope that this free resource helps people get started, or keep going in composting some (or all) of their food scraps at home. Because turning kitchens scraps into garden gold (i.e. nutrient-dense compost) at home is easy and darn effective in building soil health, preventing methane gases harming our atmosphere and helps store carbon in the ground. Plus it’ll give you enormous satisfaction in participating in the wonderful world of food and nutrient cycling – it’s a good feeling, trust me. Download the booklet for free here.

 

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Real Skills for Growing Food

We’ve just wrapped up a very full and incredibly inspiring weekend with some fine folk at our inaugural Real Skills for Growing Food workshop. We’ve been dreaming up this workshop for quite a while, as we wanted to offer a consolidated learning experience to take people through the foundations of how to grow good food in their own homes. We also wanted to make sure it was free of any powerpoint presentations and full of hands on learning through doing – which we definitely succeeded in – so much doing! We’ve come away feeling invigorated and with full hearts…. And dirty hands, of course.

Here’s a glorious photo journey of the weekend, everything from propagation, crop planing, bioinstensive gardening, no-dig gardens, composting, soil health and so much more….

IMG_1562Learning beneath a giant walnut tree -one of the best classrooms ever

IMG_1564Making seed raising mix

IMG_1571Sewing seeds

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IMG_1578Making rooting hormone from fresh tips off a willow tree

IMG_1596Which looks like this when finished – simply dip in your cuttings to give them a significant boost in the growth department

IMG_1587Toby, one of the loveliest dogs ever, graced us with her presence

IMG_1589“Pricking out” seedlings  IMG_1608  Crop planning – aka stretching our brains

IMG_1610Making no-dig gardens

_DSF4995Enjoying each other’s company. Day2: Getting ready for another 6 hours of greatness with Suzi (second from right) in her market garden (below). Photo credit, Rob Walls

_DSF5011Photo credit, Rob Walls _DSF5036Photo credit, Rob Walls

IMG_1615Sheet mulching/composting grassy areas, reclaiming them for garden beds

_DSF4994-2Making hot compost: Photo credit, Rob Walls 

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Here’s to getting your hands dirty, learning heaps of USEFUL skills which will stay with you for the rest of your life and engaging with where our food comes from. We’ll be having another Real Skills for Growing Food workshop next year which you can read about and register for here.

A big thanks to all the wonderful students who came along to this workshop – you are all SO full of life and passion – we loved meeting and working with you. Till next time!

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Community Composting at its’ Best

A couple of years ago I spent two full and fun years working with Cultivating Community (Melbourne) who are one of Australia’s leading organisations in urban agriculture and community development. While there, I helped kick start what is now called Food Know How, a unique community composting program involving a range of partners and a whole lot of work. The motivation behind this program started with Yarra City Council conducting a waste audit where they discovered that 52.6% of their waste stream was pure food waste – yikes. You can imagine how much it costs to transport waste from Yarra (dense, inner city Melbourne) to the landfill site on the edge of the city (it’s in the millions). Finding ways to cut down on the amount of food waste going in the bin in the first place was put high on the agenda.

To get things rolling, Cultivating Community partnered with Yarra Council and started doing things like the Composter’s Composium, free composting workshops in parks and back lane ways and ran the Compost Mates pilot project. Compost Mates worked with two cafes and a handful of local residents to harvest their food waste to compost it in private compost and mini community compost hubs. It worked, however we needed to do it on a bigger scale to really make an impact.

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Yours truly trialing out the early version of the bike cafe compost collection system. These detachable racks were designed to fit onto the standard bike rack and could easily be removed when not harvesting food scraps. 

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The Composter’s Composium 2011: A free expo where around 200 people hung out in the local part, learned about everything compost, were serenaded by wonderful music and had heaps of fun.

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The ‘Compost Off’, a relay race to see which team can make the best compost pile in the shortest amount of time. Costa was the judge and commentator and the participants included the local Mayor at the time. Bloody hilarious.

And so, Compost Mates morphed into Food Know How and a great team of people have been working to coordinate food scraps being captured in both residential compost systems (in people’s balconies and gardens) and establish a community composting hub at Collingwood Children’s Farm to process bulk cafe food waste.

In short, Cultivating Community committed themselves to:

  • Sign up 500 households and 32 cafes to participate
  • Support participants through regular interaction and visits to their home/business
  • Provide free technical advice on how to maintain a healthy compost, worm farm or Bokashi system
  • Run fun, interactive workshops and events on food waste avoidance and composting
  • Update our website with a suite of tools to help families and business owners reduce food waste in the kitchen.
  • Use cargo trikes to pick up unavoidable food waste from cafes and take them to compost hubs across the city, where we will be able to process the scraps and turn them into nutrient-rich compost
  • Throughout the program we will randomly select participants to assess how much food waste we’re diverting from landfill and will also ask people to complete short surveys, providing valuable feedback to the City of Yarra

nyshNysh modelling the current fancy and fantastic bikes used to collect food scraps from the 32 cafes

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The compost hub is located at the Collingwood Children’s Farm where food scraps from local cafes is composted. Cultivating Community staff member, Kat Lavers, manages this process beautifully. Please note, the general public are not allowed to check out this space without prior arrangements.

2014-06-10 15.47.57The last bay in the line where the food scraps are unrecognisable and the good stuff (compost) is well on its’ way to maturing.

In addition to the large hot compost bays, this compost hub also features two large worm farms. When it comes to composting, worm farming has a lot of added benefits which you can read about here.

 

 

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Cultivating Community CEO (and all round legend), Michael Gourlay, showing me around the worm farms

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When we moved back to Tasmania in 2012, I had serious community composting withdrawals so worked with Hobart City Council and Sustainable Living Tasmania to do a small home-based compost project called Compost Kings and Queens. Over 6 months I worked with 30 households to teach them how to compost as much food waste as they could in their own homes. In this period we conducted strict data collection and managed to divert over 3.3 tonnes of food waste from landfill. Not bad at all. These type of decentralised waste management approaches are comparatively dirt cheap (compared to trucking waste across vast distances) and have so many happy social, environmental and economic outcomes it’s ridiculous.

CKQ DRAFT flyerMargaret Steadman and David Stephens, local sustainability wonders, being the compost king and queen

A snapshot of the Compost Kings and Queens evaluation looks something like this…

  • Recruited 30 households (71 adults and 31 children/teenagers) from the Hobart municipality
  • Diverted 3308.9 kg (3.3 tonnes) of food waste from landfill[1]
  • Prevented 5.2 tonnes Co2 -eq greenhouse gas emissions[2]
  • 92% of participants indicated they would continue composting all their food waste with their current compost system even if food waste kerbside collections were introduced.
  • 84% of participants believed that if their community were supplied with a compost system of their choice and thorough education and support, they would be open to having fortnightly rubbish collections [instead of weekly].
[1] 1 Liter of food scraps = approximately 0.66kg
[2] Food waste in kilograms x 1.6 = Co2 emissions if sent to landfill (National Greenhouse Accounts, July 2012)

Composting is a highly effective technique to process food waste (and other organic materials) in your own garden or balcony. Community composting is taking it up a level (or 10) and is more than just composting – it’s community development/social permaculture in action – it’s beautiful. It can be as simple as you and your neighbour getting together to share a compost bin, or it could be your whole community organising themselves to catch and store this precious nutrient-rich resource that is currently treated as waste. There is a shape and size to suit any context, you just need to start!

Resources

 *Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.

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How To Make HOT Compost

Hot composting is a great way to process bulk organic matter and process (get rid of) any pathogens (bad bugs) and unwanted plants (weeds). You can spend your whole life studying and practicing compost and still not know everything – it’s such a deep and intricate science. This brief article is merely here to help point you in the right direction in larger scale composting, keep researching and practicing and you’ll just keep learning!

What’s the difference between hot and cold composting?

Hot composting involves building a compost pile (in one go) which is at least one cubic metre in size, any less than this and it wont be able to generate the heat required to break down the organic matter and kill off pathogens (bad bugs) in the desired time frame. Hot composting will easily get up to over 100 degrees if you let it, however the desired temperature is 60/65 degrees. At this level it’s killing off the pathogens (the bad bugs) but not the desired biology, once it gets hotter than this the good biology is also getting killed – not good.

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Nifty thermometers built for the job can help keep an eye on the compost pile’s temperature. Image from here

Cold compost is… you guessed it, cold. It’s usually done on a smaller scale in standard compost bins and is more popular with people with tiny garden spaces. You add to slow compost systems gradually, a small bucket of food scraps and straw every day or so.

There are two things that all composting methods have in common, the first thing is the ingredients. There are 4 universal inputs: carbon, nitrogen, water and air. Carbon ingredients is anything that’s dry and brown (think dead), such as straw, hay, brown leaves, shredded office paper, ripped/scrunched newspaper, cardboard – you get the idea. Nitrogen is anything that’s really fresh including animal manures (horse, cow, chicken, sheep, rabbit etc (leave out cat poo due to the risk of totoxoplasmosis)), green lawn clippings, food scraps and green waste. There are some things I don’t ever put in the compost as it feels wrong, these include invasive grass species (twitch and kikuyu and any seed heads from plants I really don’t wont in my garden). I’ll dry and burn these, give them to the cickens or drown them in a bucket of water instead of putting them in the compost. But that’s just me.

The second thing all compost methods have in common is that these ingredients are layered. Just like a lasagna, the carbon and nitrogen materials are layered, alternating between the two until you’ve reached at least one cubic metre as seen below.

compost pileThe layer of twigs at the bottom helps increase airflow and drainage from the pile. Once that’s down you can get started with your carbon and nitrogen layers.

compost profile 1

This photo is actually from a small compost bin, however you apply this same technique on a large scale when building a hot compost. You may notice there’s some wire mesh on the bottom – this is an add on to prevent rodents from moving in, a handy tip if you have unwanted furry animals raiding your compost bin. 

What ratio of carbon and nitrogen materials should you use?

Most compost books you read will say stick to a carbon/nitrogen ration of 25:1. However it really depends on the materials you have on hand, you’ll find that very rarely will any of them actually be 100% carbon or nitrogen, they’ll always have some of the other in them – if that makes sense. Personally, I’ve found using a ratio of 50:50 works well, sometimes a little less nitrogen and more carbon when I have particularly rich nitrogen ingredients – just to make sure it’s balanced.

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I like making compost with friends, time goes quickly, you learn new things (about each other and composting) and it’s fun. You also get to take silly photos.

compost ladies

Bridget and Bonnie – friends who compost together stay together

How can you tell when it’s getting hot? When starting out, get yourself a thermometer, that way you can learn what 60/65 degrees looks/feels like. Once you’re feeling comfortable with the whole process your eyes and fingers do the job well.

Compost appreciation

Sadly the camera couldn’t catch the compost steam we were admiring above, indicating that our compost pile was hot and ready to be turned.

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Here’s a photo from the Fork and Hoe Collective composting – the early morning light captured the compost steam beautifully.

We don’t cover our piles with any tarpaulins or carpet, we do put a thick layer of straw covering the whole pile to prevent the outside from drying out. However if you live in really high rainfall areas you may need to cover them to make sure it doesn’t get too drenched. We also make free-standing piles with no infrastructure required at all. This means they’re easier to make and turn.

How often should you turn it?

You need to turn the pile to make sure it ‘cooks’ evenly. When you actually turn it is determined by how quickly/slowly it reaches the desired temperature (60/65 degrees), this often happens within 24 hours, other times it can take up to 7 days days – it depends on the inputs. The books will generally say once a week, however the more obsessed you get with compost the more you will refine your practices.

Compost Activators

To help compost be the best it can be you can add compost activators – their job is to inoculate the compost pile with their nutrients, giving it a serious BOOST. Some of the common activators include some plants (comfrey leaves, dandelion, stinging nettle, yarrow leaves, tansy leaves) which all have especially high levels of key minerals. You can also use mature (healthy) compost which will be loaded with biology or road kill which will attract biology quick smart.

What does compost look like when it’s ready?

  • It’s the colour of 70% dark chocolate
  • It’s fluffy and has good ‘crumb’ structure, it doesn’t feel sticky/muddy or dry and sandy – it’s just right
  • When you squeeze a handful of it in your fist, one drop of water (no more) will come out of it – this indicates it has the right moisture content.
  • It smells sweet and earthy

hands-of-compost

Image from here

Nervous about composting food scraps?

Start small with a standard compost bin and follow the helpful guide below. Once you’ve got the hang of it, build yourself up to some hot composting – it’s super satisfying.

Compost sticker - GLP

Help, my compost is….

Really smelly: It’s too wet and likely to be anaerobic (not enough air), mix in more carbon materials, turn and a touch of lime will help bring it back into balance.

Infested with ants: It’s probably too dry. Add water; cover any exposed food scraps on top of pile with carbon and hessian/felt. Turn the compost.

Taking ages to break down: Not enough nitrogen materials, add more rich materials (food scraps, manure, green lawn clippings) and turn the pile to add more air.

Swamped with small black flies: Make sure you have no exposed food scraps (cover with carbon).

Home to rats and mice: Reduce the amount of bread and meat and if using a small compost bin (which isn’t hot composting) add vermin mesh on the bottom of the compost bin to prevent rodents digging under.

vermin mesh

Vermin mesh is sometimes used for bird aviaries, has really tough wire and very small squares ensuring that baby mice/rats can’t squeeze through. If you’re having trouble with rodents in your hot compost pile, turn it regularly and set some traps… If you’re into that kind of thing.

 

 

 

Interested in doing a hands on composting workshop?

We’re running one this Saturday 10th May, otherwise check out our list of future courses to see what’s coming up.

Resources

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.

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