Making up a compost

Making Compost at home
Composting involves you getting in touch with the “waste” from your own life and learning the art of creating a resource that will fuel the nutritious growth of you garden for a lifetime.
Composting is one or the first, if not the first, activities that you need to engage in when getting started with organic growing. Even when you are planning, setting up, setting out and laying down the parameters for what, where and how you are going to grow your organic garden, composting is something that you can start straightaway.
The really inspiring and exciting things is that starting up a compost bin is one way that you can actually change the world, by specifically changing the world that is immediately around you. Composting is something that any gardener worth their weight in humus I doing on an ongoing basis.
Although there is a “yuck” factor to work through as compost can get a little smelly, when done properly composting is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your health and for the planet.

Jumping Into the Compost Bin of Life
So where do you technically get started with composting? The first point on your composting journey is simply “awareness”. The easiest way to become aware of your composting possibilities is to start thinking about your waste, the outputs that you generate as human every single day. One way you can do it is to carry a bag around with you and to put everything that you go to throw out into this bag. The best part of doing this is that carrying this waste around makes you aware of it in all of its dimensions. If you feel a bit self-conscious carry it around in a non-transparent bag, but if you are not self-conscious carry it around in a clear bag so that others can see what in it and hopefully ask you questions. That way you are also actually composting the minds of others in the process.
The idea behind this is that you can then look inside your bag and start to determine what are the things that are compostable and which are recyclable. This is the best way to get connected to compost in is its true context. That context just happens to be every minute of your day, every human activity develops some of sort of output. Without getting into the intricacies of entropy, if you can appreciate the cyclical nature of resource you are halfway towards dealing with the problems that our consumption-based economy has created.
Once you have established in your own mind what it means to be composting you are ready to get started with the practicalities. Set up two containers in your kitchen where you can separate you food scraps ready for composting. On top of that, recognize and act on the “recyclables”. Auditing the average garbage bin in Australia shows that more than half of the material consigned to landfill is compostable scraps and paper. When you consider that of all the garbage going out every week, half of it is a resource, then putting a bin out could be seen as a crime against the environment if you don’t take the time to separate your waste.
Composting puts value in garbage. When things are mixed you have a red bin, and it may be called mixed waste but in effect it is garbage. When it is separated into the distinct categories of waste that “garbage” bin becomes a resource receptacle. It is this change of thinking that is the basis of composting. To those who look at it from a financial point of view, composting is a resource simply awaiting transformation into a state where it can be taken up by nature’s systems and reused. This is where you have a chance to support nurture and regenerate not only nature and nature’s health and the health of our produce but, naturally enough, your own health.

Creating Your Composting Bin
Two simple definitions that you need to take on board in terms of your composting are “green” and “brown”, or “nitrogen” and “carbon”. It is probably easier to think of it in terms of living things are “green” (nitrogen providing), and dead things are “brown” (carbon providing). Green living thins include recent cuttings from trees, green waste such as recent lawn clipping, and food scraps. Brown, or carbon, includes dry grass clipping, dry leaves, twigs and shredded paper. Whit these definition in mind you are ready to set up your compost bin;

Step 1 Find a position for your compost bin where it can sit on the ground. Place compost bin of rabbit proof fence or chicken where on ground. This prevents any visits or intrusions by unwanted visitors.

Step 2 Put your bin on the wire

Step 3 Put a layer of dry mixed leaves from your garden or your local park. This is a “brown” or carbon layer

Step 4 Put your first layer of green waste in, which should be from your garden, including off-cuts and fresh grass clipping, to about 150-200mm thick. Water this layer in with half a watering can of water

Step 5 Put in your first layer of composting food scraps.

Step 6 From this point alternate layers of brown and green waste as per the “compost recipe”. Ensure that each time you add material you water it in. Each time you water it in turn your compost, either with a corkscrew turner or a fork. Once your, compost is sitting for its maturation period, make sure that once week you add water and turn it.

Once the bin is full it has to be left and can be used after eight to ten week. So to do composting properly you actually need two bins. One bin will be your working bin that you are adding to, the other will be breaking down, ready to be used. This way you have an ongoing supply of compost.

Creating a Family Heirloom
Your compost, and the recipe for it, will become a family heirloom. You will learn all the intricacies and how to adjust. When you compost gets too wet, add some dry material (your brown matter). If it’s too dry make sure to add some additional water and green material. Just like all of your favorite recipes, creating family heirlooms takes time. The best way to learn about composting is through observation of your won compost bin. Composting is an activity that you will constantly develop and refine. Ultimately you can pass on your discovered compost wisdom to family and friends, and what a gift your are giving them and the planet at the same time.

Compost Recipe
Always add the same amount of brown waste as green waste. So if you add the equivalent of a shoe box full of food scraps from your kitchen then add a shoe box full of brown waste to cover it.
Remember that to be prepared, so next to your compost bin you need to have the other ingredients that you will need. Cooking up a compost bin is like cooking to any other recipe; you need to have all the other ingredients ready so that you can add these as you go along.
Have two bins next to your compost bin. One bin can be full of twigs. The other bin can be full of grass that you have allowed to dry out with some paper added. That way every time that you add some green waste to the bin you can add the equivalent in brown waste.
Other ingredients that you can have to hand are chicken pellets, or scratching from you chicken pen, that you can add between layers every now and then. You can also have a bag full or rock dust so that you can add a dusting over the top of your compost every couple of weeks, to add more minerals to your overall complete compost.
So each time you add a layer, make sure to add the equivalent in opposite material. Think of your compost as an alternating green with a few additions like chicken pellets and rock dust thrown in.

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