Sunday, October 25, 2009

Waste not - Compost!

Whilst progress on the garden per se is slow to the point of being non-existent we have at least commissioned the compost bin. Over the months of moving from one temporary address to another we have been without a compost facility and therefore very aware of the quantity of fruit and vegetable scraps we have been consigning to the garbage bin. Our enthusiasm to get started was spurred both by recent articles in the newspaper about waste and by hearing Stephanie Alexander speak about her passion for growing her own fruit and vegies.
Discussions around the dinner table with friends last weekend convinced me that we are composters and not worm farmers. Worms appear to need care and attention, more animal husbandry, altogether more of a commitment. Compost on the other hand seems to require only the ability to collect suitable material and a degree of patience.
Apparently there are however things that can go wrong. Rats and other nocturnal marauders find compost irresistible so there needs to be some way of ensuring that creatures cannot gain access to the bin if you don’t want to encourage them. Balance also seems to be important – too many orange peels was a bit of a disaster I remember when we tried composting the remains of children’s school lunches – but I have discovered a simple formula for layering the bin. Thanks to Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden Companion I am layering green waste (all the peelings and trimmings from the kitchen plus anything else from the garden) with an equal amount of dry material – in our case leaves and shredded paper – all helped along with a cup full of blood and bone.
In the past we have accumulated the kitchen scraps in a bucket or some other container in the kitchen which hasn’t been especially successful – the contents attract vinegar flies and the container takes up valuable floor or bench space. Thanks to my friend Jan we have now implemented another method. Each day the scraps go into a bag in the freezer. The freezer is then emptied at the weekend and the frozen lumps go into the bin with the shredded paper and the blood and bone. Not only does this keep the kitchen clear of debris but the freezing actually starts the breakdown process and it is easier to keep a track of the ratio of green to dry material – not that I have ever been very rigorous about this in the past.
No doubt there is room for refinement but at least the compost has begun!
And I also have to thank Stephanie Alexander for finding Giovanna Garzoni who is responsible for the wonderful painting at the top of this post.

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