I’ve been meaning to give composting a go for a while but procrastinated mostly thinking that I don’t have much organic waste, hence not being worthwhile. But I’m also seriously sick and tired of gardening with poor, compact and non-friable soil. In terms of top soil I drive around with the quad and find areas where soil had been moved some time ago, most likely for the purpose of creating the tracks around the property, put it into fish bins and drive it up on site. Then I mix it with some sand and ash from the fire place, thus turning it over and aerating it, and then use it for my garden.

However, it hasn’t been quite fruitful enough, the soil tends to compact easily after prolonged rain which doesn’t create a proper environment for root development. Carrots or beetroot, for instance, just don’t stand a chance to grow in that soil and remain even after maturity in a ‘dwarf’-state.

That really pisses me off, there seems to be a lot of work involved in even having a small garden patch. Constantly picking tough weeds out, watering, making the top soil, turning it over, then there are snails and the birds who love to pull out the little seedlings – something I figured (eye-witnessed) just recently. Therefore, the entire gardening project has been frustrating, mainly due to low quantity and quality of produce.

Well, climbing beans seem to do really well and also cucumbers. The former plants have the ability to uptake and modify nitrogen from the air, I suppose this is why they do well even in this poor soil. I can’t get my head around the cucumbers though. Obviously, they need lots of water and the plant itself is actually quite small considering the amount and size of the cucumbers they produce. I don’t even get remotely similar outcomes for tomatoes though. I had around 20 plants last year and got probably just the same amount of tomatoes out of them. This year it is looking even worse.

As much as I like to get away from using soil in the first place and do hydroponics, I’m starting to realise that in terms of getting things done, moving forward that is, it is a better idea to start slow and develop on it. I just have to give gardening with soil a better go and like so much more in life this is not an off-on thing, something you set up and sit back and watch, it is an ongoing, progressing thing. There are basically two ways. Either buy the soil, which goes for 30 bucks for 40 litres, or make your own compost.

The other day I charged the batteries up for my drill and circular saw and gathered some of the scrap wood that lied around and screwed the following together.

My new compost bin made from scrap wood. The front door is just loosely screwed together, so I can take it off and turn the content around with a shovel.

The design is as simple as it looks on the picture, I feed the content from above, one of the panels of the lid is not screwed on. There is heaps of spacings for good ventilation and the front ‘door’ can be removed easily, which makes turning the content over with the shovel significantly easier.

After I finished it and started writing this post I had the ‘ingenious’ idea to search for compost on Google and found many designs which involve tree branches and no screws at all. I also learned that you need to apparently keep the compost bin in a shaded area, away from heat and covered from the rain, but that heat, moisture and aeration are the key ingredients to creating good compost quickly. Suppose I just go ahead with it as it is and see where it takes me.

Turns out I have more organic waste than I initially thought. For instance, the rotten and undeveloped apples.

Another thing I read is that you pile the stuffs that go into a compost bin in layers. For instance, a layer of household organic waste, a layer of grass clippings, a layer of animal manure, a layer of seaweed, a layer of ash and so on.

A layer of dried grass clippings.
A layer of green material; here dwarf been plants that didn’t bloom any more after the first harvest was collected.

The next layers will consist of horse manure from my neighbour, seaweed from the beach and some ash. Maybe some newspaper. I’m looking forward to seeing how quickly and more importantly whether I get any usable compost at all and keep you informed. The bin is about two-thirds of a cubic meter. Once it proves that my approach yields compost I’ll make up a couple more of these bins, each will contain composting material at different stages and the bins will be stored in different locations.


4 thoughts on “Compost”

  1. Hi Ben,

    Should try include some fish waste in those compost bins too or directly in to your garden. When I was a boy, Dad use to dig snapper frames in to the vege garden and we always had bumper crops.

    1. Will do JK, tend to give the frames to Rani, she loves them. Can’t dig them into the garden any more, because she’ll dig them out. But certainly some kina
      and other (shell)fish-waste can go into the bin.

  2. Yep second the snapper frames, Bill always let me dig them into their veg garden at PJ when I needed to get rid of any. Any fish will do. Too much sun dries the compost out which prevents decomposition and the high UV levels will sterilize things. Too much water/rain leaches out the good stuff. So keep it covered with black plastic and water lightly and regularly yourself (don’t be afraid to pee on it occasionally either!). Once your layers have sat a month, turn it all over and mix it up. Don’t put any diseased or blighted plants in, especially tomatoes. We make a pretty reasonable compost for our veg growing, other than the pine needles which I can’t seem to keep out! And do rotate your planting areas so you don’t grow the same thing in the same spot each year. Anyway, looking forward to trying some of those beans soon! Paul xxxxx

    1. Will drop a few of those frames in the compost bin then, cheers for the useful info, too. At the moment I’m sick with the gardening, has been worse than last year. But yeah, the beans are doing fine.

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