You know how you feel uncomfortable when someone drops litter or tosses away a cigarette butt? I get a similar feeling when I see someone putting organic waste into the rubbish bin. Slightly sad, a bit outraged and astonished that we don’t all take responsibility for disposing of a large proportion of our waste and feeding our gardens. I have on occasion collected kitchen waste whilst away for the weekend so I can bring it home to compost. In terms of effort and reward it surely makes sense.
We made a compost heap as part of the compost workshop nearly a fortnight ago and I went back today to see how it had progressed. It contained garden waste (weeds, mulched prunings, fallen leaves and a small volume of grass clippings), some waste from under a macrocarpa hedge (mainly needles), shredded office paper and some kitchen waste (wrapped in newspaper). We added about four 10-litre watering cans of rainwater. Things had progressed pretty well (pictured left to right, row one, row two)
- It had decreased in volume by nearly a half
- Some of the contents had decomposed well
- Some areas were compacted (particularly grass clippings near the bottom) so were smelly as they decomposing anaerobically without enough air.
- Some areas were dry so hadn’t rotted
- Layers of wet and dry ingredients were still visible
- I always choose a bin I can lift off a compost heap and get really good access to turn the compost
- Some corn seeds left on corn husks had sprouted in the warmth and moisture of the heap
- I turned it from the square, insulated bin into a 150 litre plastic compost bin. There was a little pile left over.
Another few weeks and it will have reduced in volume by about half again. It will be ready to use in two to three months. You don’t have to turn a compost heap but you’ll get much better and more even decompostion if you do. Which means less space taken to store compost and less time before you’ve got compost ready to use.