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Thursday, February 13, 2014

NZ Compost

Once upon a time for us making compost was a chore because all the material had to be assembled in advance. To make a decent sized compost that would heat up sufficiently to kill off the weed seeds requires quite a bit of material. The lawns would be mown with a catcher to accumulate lots of green matter. Cow manure and/or chicken manure collected, branches and sticks from pruning put through the mulcher/chipper and bales of mulch hay stockpiled. Finally when all the components were at hand the pile was created.

We started avoiding this exercise. First we purchased a worm farm. This was fine for adding kitchen waste until it was full then we built a couple of brick enclosures for the overflow material. Then it was decided to split the kitchen waste into those things that interest chickens and those that don't. The chicken valuables were put into the chicken run and the other into the brick enclosure.

The brick enclosure was fine except it didn't heat up and kill the seeds and the rats and mice enjoyed its presence.

The weeds from the vegetable garden were dropped into a wire mesh enclosure and every year or so we would harvest the broken down material at the bottom. This required moving the non broken down material into another enclosure. Worse still the woody, sticky bits stayed woody and sticky and made it difficult to clean out.

We also acquired some compost tumblers. Very handy. Just fill with the right blend of material and tumble it each day. Remembering to tumble each day was a bit of an issue. Maybe that is why we never achieved the brochure's stated result.

Then we came full circle. After re-reading Eve Balfour's "The Living Soil" we were inspired once more and I retreated to the place that Jean calls the “The Shed of Inventions” returning after a few days with two demountable NZ Compost Bins. Each 4 feet square and a little higher. All made from scraps of hardwood gleaned from various projects.

The first compost we made was fabulous. Everything broken down and the weed seeds heated into oblivion.

The best part of this was that we learnt to build the compost over a few days and time it with when we performed a major weeding or tree pruning. If we ran short of green material it was just a matter of mowing a bit of lawn. Mulch hay is always in stock and easy to access for the brown material. Any pots or conatainers where vegetables had grown and were now redundant had their valuable soild incorportared as one of the many layers. A whip around with the wheel barrow resulted in either some chicken litter or cow manure and if desperate we just usd blood and bone.

Making compost has now become a pleasurable and easy task not some thing to dread. The other sttractiveness of the NZ Compost was it only needs to be turned once. In fact you can get away with no turning but the outside few inches doesn't break down. But by having two bins side by side it only takes 30 minutes to move it from one to another.

partially finished

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