A little while back I gave a presentation at our former ward’s “Skills Day”. The half-day event was part of a summer-long programme of events spearheaded by the Bishop with the aim of encouraging self-sufficiency in these hard economic times.
I was asked to speak about gardening as MBCB and I have a large fruit and vegetable plot but I struggled to distil just a few ‘must know’ tips. There is a lot that can be said about gardening, especially with reference to plantsmanship and soil management! I narrowed it down to some basics, but decided to place the focus on composting. A skill everyone should know, from farmer to non-gardener.
I’m always amazed at the number of gardeners who, despite being able to rattle off the scientific names for various plants, have little grasp on the art of composting! Compost is not only a great source of nutrients for the garden, it is a great use of waste as much of what ends up in landfills could be composted. Not only is this a loss of good fertiliser, it shortens the life of the landfill site and, once buried, decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen) creating methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Since the 1990s, municipalities around the world have tried to encourage household composting to reduce the cost of disposing of organic waste. I recall our family getting a black upright composter in the mid-90s, similar to the one shown on the right. Our initial enthusiasm waned as we opened the composter after several months to find grass clippings and food waste still mostly intact.
More recently, my sister tried composting with her family using the same type of composter. She had a similar experience – a big dry heap of grass peppered with mummified food scraps. Along the same lines a friend in Scotland had found that her composter was not only ineffective, it had become home to a well-fed, nearly tame, rat.
Although home composting is perfectly feasible, many cities are now moving to central composting as waste managers find home owners can’t seem to make it work. Not necessarily a bad idea, but why should you give away your valuable nutrients, only to buy them back from the city?
The good news is that composting is not hard and is much easier to learn then, say, making bread, as it is completely forgiving.
I thought that since I have some expertise (professional and practical) in the subject, I would share a little bit of knowledge on this basic skill. In my next post I’ll go over the science and the art of home composting, giving away the secret to making your own free miracle fertiliser/soil amendment!
In the mean time, let me know of any questions you have or topics you’d like me to cover… or possibly a compost horror/success story of your own.