When our area at work got moved (yet again) to another floor in our building I was surprised to see that an enterprising person had placed a ‘compostables’ bucket next to all the ‘general’ and ‘re-cyclables’ rubbish bins in our office kitchen. What’s even better people were using it.As is the way of the public service that person has also since been moved. Seizing the opportunity I decided to put my own compost bucket in the kitchen. It’s been somewhat of a rocky start. The first week I duly collected my compostables, enclosed the bin and its contents in a plastic bag and got it home safely on the bus. This week I fell foul of a new and somewhat zealous member of the cleaning team, who emptied everything including the compost and re-cyclables into the same bin and took the lot away. I’ve now added another sign on the bin asking the cleaners not to empty it and this does seem to have worked. Why do I bother? Because we need a lot of compost to keep the garden going as we grow food year round. We just don’t generate enough green waste to make up what our garden soil requires to keep it in good nick and keep our crops coming. My hairdresser recently confided to me that she had only now realised that her Father’s annual topping of his garden beds with huge amounts of manure wasn’t just one of those odd parental quirks, as she had thought. She now knows,as a veggie grower herself, that the plants can’t keep growing all those good leaves, roots and fruits without some food of their own. I’ve just stopped to consider how many different sources of soil and plant ‘food’ that we have in production. * two open compost heaps
* two compost bins, one actively being ‘fed’ and one ‘resting’
* one compost bin making leaf mould
* one home made worm farm – TB has just checked and the little
darlings have survived the heat, and
* sundry buckets of comfrey ‘tea’ and manure ‘tea’. In addition to this TB also plants green manure in some of our beds each year to provide nitrogen, organic material (once it has been dug back in) and cover for the soil over winter. Our sugarcane and pea straw mulches also rot down over time to add organic materials and in the case of pea straw additional nitrogen to the soil. Don’t despair none of these processes require major effort – throwing veggie scraps and lawn-clippings in a heap isn’t too arduous. Should you feel the need to go into this more deeply there is plenty of help available. The following fact sheets are available from ABC’s Gardening Australia: * easy compost bin
* building a worm farm * marvellous manures I’d just warn you to be careful what you throw in your compost bins. Some years ago I arrived home to see a fire blazing away in one of our compost bins. TB had emptied the ashes from the Webber BBQ into the bin, not stopping to think about them still being hot. Oops.