Composting and Brown Snakes
Now back to composting. We have several different composting methods:
|Kitchen Waste Compost|
- The kitchen waste i.e. vegetable trimmings, tea leaves, ground coffee and scraps of paper etc are put into a small rectangular structure assembled from loose bricks. When it is full a little animal manure is placed on top and then it’s covered with straw or hay and left for a couple of months. There are two of these going at once. One has been bedded down and is maturing while the other is being filled. As the maturing pile sinks, the bricks are transferred from it to the growing pile, that way economising on the number of bricks. The fully decomposed material is used in the vegetable garden.
- The garden waste from weeding is put into one of two large bins with mesh sides held up with star pickets. When one is filled it is left and the other started. After a few months the uncomposted material on top of the first pile is removed and added to the second pile. The material from these composts is use to fill the tyres that grow potatoes.
- The compost tumblers are filled with grass clippings, some chicken litter and chipped prunings from the mulcher. There never seems to be enough of this available in a mature state at our place. If it’s not fully composted and is required for a new vegetable planting a trench is dug in the bed and the material buried as is. By the time the seeds or seedling get their roots down to the contents of the trench the worms will have done their job.
- There is the worm farm in black plastic rectangular bins. Firstly, to keep a home base for the red compost worms. Secondly, to provide worm wee and thirdly to compost anything we don’t want the dogs to dig up such as cooked chicken bones or small dead creatures.
- Lastly there is a staging area to hold either surplus compost if the tumblers or material from the mulcher get ahead .
|Garden Waste Compost|
|Compost Staging Area|
|Mulching Fish Frames|
Another useful feature of garden mulchers is that they can turn fish frames (ie heads, skeleton and tail) into Omega 3 rich mince. Because it is a bit of a messy task its best to process a large quantity at once. These can be bagged into suitable sized batches and frozen then put out for the chooks on a regular basis. Just plonk it on the grass in one pile as they will graze on it until it disappears. The mulching of fish frames is done near the chook yard so the house keeping afterwards is mainly performed by the girls themselves. Standing in front of the mulcher and trying to catch the flying fish mince seems to be a popular activity for our girls. Hosing it out at the end just gives the girls more. Don’t use shark frames as they create havoc with the mulcher. Shark is also at the wrong end of the food chain if you want to keep your mercury intake at low levels.
Neatness and Cleanliness
We haven’t been struck by the neatness stick. There are far too many other important jobs to be performed as part of our self sufficiency. You won’t find us shaving the lawn or nipping every out of place blade of grass. The lawns get done in time and the edges trimmed and it always looks nice afterwards but it is not a regular event. The vegetables get weeded but not every day. A few weeds are always showing. The vegetables aren’t always in neat rows. Firstly, there is always the odd failure and secondly we make every attempt at succession planting to avoid that wasteful glut. Our concentration is on diversity as much as anything.
Many plants are left to go to seed. This is inherently untidy but returns substantial benefits. Parsnip, parsley, coriander, fennel, endive, several types of radicchio, celeriac and land cress are now self sown.
The cats and dogs are allowed to wander in and out of the house and they always forget to wipe their feet. Hence we have tiled floors in most rooms while other rooms are kept out of bounds. Vacuuming is not a high priority. Usually we are prodded into action when visitors are imminent. This usually ends up being a major event for us which includes washing the floors.