COMPOSTING FOR DUMMIES
Even though is IS the middle of Winter, there are still a few piles of autumn leaves around, ripe and ready for composting. Leaves are a much sought after compost addition and are most plants’ favourite mulch.
Last month, I was excited to find huge amounts of London plane leaves around Notre Dame university carparks and side streets of Fremantle. Mulched down (you can use a lawn mower or mulcher) they make a fabulous mulch for pots or garden underneath a coarser mulch such as recycled street prunings or chunky cocopeat mulch.
Composting doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. If you don’t have the time, room or inclination for making large amounts of compost in a bay, you can buy a tumbler, an Aerobin (I love these) or use a black cone compost bin with aeration.
AERATION – if you want to avoid a slimy rancid mess in your compost bin, aeration is critical. Either buy yourself a composting aerator fork to use at least weekly or put a 50-75mm diameter pvc pipe ¾ of the length of your cone compost and drill lots of holes along the length of it. Easy!
Whatever compost system you have, if you follow this little jingle (thank you to Shani Graham from Ecoburbia for this gem); you will have lovely compost in no time.
“Two thirds dry, one third wet, add some activation and see what you get. Add some aeration and some H20, sit back and watch your garden grow.”
DRY = carbon: straw, shredded newspaper, old lawn clippings, sawdust, autumn leaves, pet and human hair, small sticks
WET = nitrogen – fresh lawn clippings, fruit and veg scraps, old cut flowers, fresh manure – ie chicken; garden waste chopped into small pieces.
ACTIVATORS – add small amounts of these: weeds (minus seed heads), comfrey (the best), seaweed, urine, coffee, blood and bone
TIP 1 – the finer the ingredients are the quicker they’ll break down
TIP 2 – if you have a compost tumbler, roll it 1-2 per week a couple of rotations.
TIP 3 – most things are a mixture of green and brown. The older something gets, the more towards carbon it becomes.
TIP 4 – add a little of your old compost to inoculate the new batch with beneficial microbes.