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Posts tagged ‘hot 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: Kingston March

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.

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Hot Composting Video

If you’ve got lots of bulk organic matter in your garden, then hot composting is for you. It’s a great way to process large amounts of material to cycle it back into your landscape to improve soil health and ultimately, grow more food.  You can watch our latest covid-19 Crisis Gardening video to see how we do it in our own garden here.

Additional hot composting resources we’ve created over time include:

In conclusion, compost (in its many shapes and forms) is an essential part of living a good life. Whether you’re doing it in your backyard, community space or your local Council’s facilitating it for/with you – get into it. There’s nothing more satisfying than turning all that comfrey and spoiled straw you can see below into dark brown nutritious compost for our garden!

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The Worm Farm Seat

Inspired by a photo (seen below) we saw from our mates who used to run Urban Bush Carpenters, I organised a worm farm seat to be made at our recent Permaculture Design Course by our *wonderful* Course Coordinator, Blake Harder. -1

The key functions of this particular worm farm are to process food scraps from the kitchen – providing worm castings and worm wee for the kitchen garden nearby. It’s also central to the social area that’s integrated into the same area, providing a big comfy seat for a few people to hang out on.

In case you don’t know about compost worms yet, they’re highly beneficial for the soil and food crops – you can read about them here. In short, they’re awesome and you want them.

Blake built it out of an old bathtub and timber, only the screws and hinges were bought from the local hardware. We didn’t quite manage to take step-by-step photos of the process as we were all a bit busy (sorry), however here are some of Blake’s sketches and photos of the students filling it up and getting it operational…

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IMG_5803The lid detail

After watching Blake build the worm farm between classes, the students finally got to come out and help finish it off. Blake thought it best to surprise them all by hiding in the empty worm farm and jumping out at just the right moment. It was a very, very good surprise.

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Crucial to a good worm farm is drainage. Blake made a false floor out of lattice and shade cloth which is cut to the right size that it can wedge into the bathtub nicely, leaving a gap that’s approximately 10cm deep, plenty of room for the worm wee to travel through the plug hole and letting in good air to the system.

IMG_5667James and Blake showcasing the false floor which is cut to just the right size so it wedges into the bath tub, approximately 10cm from the bottom.

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The next step is to fill the worm farm with a range of organic matter. I’ve seen worm farms with only cow poo/horse poo, so it’s not essential to have diverse ingredients, but I prefer diversity at every opportunity. With this in mind, we filled the worm farm with leaf litter, some half composted organic matter, mixed greens from the kitchen and water.

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We emptied the compost worms into the top of the bath and quickly covered them as they hate sunlight. So quickly, I didn’t get a chance to get their photo. Bummer.

To help moderate the moisture and temperature levels, we put a simple layer of damp cardboard on top. You could also use newspaper, hessian or thick pads of straw. I generally recommend against using carpet as most modern carpet has heavy glues in it which will harm the worms.

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Directly below the bathtub’s plug hole sits a bucket to collect the “worm wee” which can then be diluted and placed on the garden. You could build your worm farm slightly higher so you can have a large bucket beneath it, or find a bucket with a bigger capacity (and is still short) – whatever works for you.

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IMG_5727Some nifty handles made from old rope. Easy!

IMG_5623Alice and Ashlee, just acting casual

The finished product. We’re in love with this design and are looking at making our own version suited to our home. We’re also a big fan of Blake, he’s an absolute legend, a highly organised, passionate, “can-do” permaculturalist – our kind of guy. If you need help with almost anything, we can’t recommend him high enough.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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