I’ve been busy emptying the old composting tube in the corner of the garden. It had been filled up with all sorts of garden waste throughout the years, and the resulting product actually looked like good quality humus. I wouldn’t use it in my vegetable beds though, since I’m rather picky about what goes into my soil and thereby into the vegetables and fruit, and finally into my body. Therefore I just spread the contents of the old concrete composting tube on spaces I plan on using for walking aisles.
I found lots of eggshells in there, and even plastic bags, so I just want to be sure that it’s only healthy stuff that ends up in the compost. Nothing wrong with eggshells though, but generally the challenge with composting is that you have to get a high enough temperature to burn down all the bad stuff, and this takes some knowledge and practice. Looking at the condition of the kitchen garden I do not assume that the previous renters were into gardening and composting, therefore I’m starting a new pile from scratch. Not to say that I know enough about composting to make it work perfectly, but I’m very keen on getting the loads of kitchen scraps out of the expensive household garbage can out front. Besides it should be very healthy to know what goes into your vegetables – that’s one of the big reasons why we wrestle with this gardening thing, right? 😉 (besides getting a good workout and save some sweet moolah $ 😀 )
The trick to composting is to mix three components, namely greens, browns, and manure. If done correctly you can make the worlds best compost in a short amount of time, but it’s hard to do for the average kitchen gardener, since you need large areas and access to all three components all at once in relatively large quantities. If you have that then yes, you can work wonders. If not, you might want to consider getting a compost tumbler.
Photo by James Emery.
When the composting process is working it happens because all three components are in contact with each other. The activity in the pile is at maximum, the materials are broken down, and the temperature is high. Out comes the best compost.
The smart thing about a compost tumbler is that it allows the different materials to come into contact when you turn it, compared to a static pile where you add materials on top, like for instance three layers of grass clippings but no brown leaves in between.
The tumbler has a size limitation though, which makes it difficult to cover an entire self-sufficient kitchen garden with enough compost, or at least very expensive, if you need to go and buy a large number of tumblers to take advantage of all the waste your garden is producing. That’s why I’m building several composting ‘boxes’ and turning them over every now and then in order to mix the materials. Just make sure to cut everything into small pieces before throwing it on the pile, with a maximum length of for example 5 cm (2 inch) so that the turning can be done easily later on.