Why Do We Love A Good Compost Heap?

Posted by Ian & Huia Moffat on

                                   "Learn to be an observer in all seasons.

      Every single day your garden has something new and wonderful to show you"

                                                   (Author unknown)

Don't underestimate the value of a good compost pile tucked away in the home garden. There is nothing very difficult or scientific to beginning one and it can be made from a few sheets of iron fixed into a neat square, to a more elaborate bought one from the hardware department stores.

If you have a more rustic type back yard a 'pile' in a corner somewhere may be the answer for you. More garden decor accessories are to grow a few tomatoes around the edges to form a bit of a barricade, and just throw all things to compost down onto the pile. This may not work if you have pets - dogs who are interested in the food scraps that get added etc. 

I have two types, in fact three if you count the worm farm. My first one is a store bought square, tapered side 'bin' with a lid and little flaps which lift up at the bottom to be able to rake a small amount of compost out if needed. In this one we mainly put all of our household fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, used paper serviettes, tea and coffee leaves, but it is important to not put meat scraps in as this will bring flies etc. I do put in prawn heads, but bury them in the compost to keep the flies once again from laying their eggs. Newspaper from the bottom of the large bird cage also goes in to rot down, as does anything from the flower garden which is small, along with leaves which gives it oxygen. But what I love is the lawn clippings which cover all of the rotting down stuff, heats it all up and is a great rotting medium. 

The other container we have is simply made from sheets of iron which we use for all of the old vegetable stalks off the garden. Tomato or sweet corn plants, and everything that has come to the end of its growing time and is too big and hard for the smaller bin. Big pieces out of the flower area and basically just greenery from around the yard.

With the top open on this one any rain can penetrate through and of course run out of the bottom, but with having a lid on the other we add liquid which has accumulated in the 'scrap bucket', so each day it gets watered. This is one thing that compost heaps need -  to have plenty of water and not let it dry out or the scraps will not rot.

If you want to start with buying a few worms to add to your scraps that is okay, but I have found that somehow the worms will know and find their way into the container from the bottom, or you could get a scoop of a friend or neighbors compost with some worms in it.

Positioning the compost heap is important as it should be in a lot of shade to keep it moist and not overheat the worms in the summer or they will die, so a water with the hose if it looks dry is good, but don't drown the worms.

There are two types of bacteria that decompose the compost - anaerobic - which does not require oxygen, or aerobic - which does require oxygen. If you turn the pile you will create oxygen and cause the bacteria to work faster.  I guess I have both as I do have garden accessories tools for this job, a screw type attachment which plunges into the compost, turns it around, pulls it up and this lifts the layers, but unfortunately I do not do it very often.

However the compost we create is full of worms, smells just like dirt and apart from eggshells which take forever to break up looks like good black earthy soil and is able to be added to any garden or pot plant. 

I look at this beautiful black stuff and marvel that it was once just a bucket of vegetable scraps.




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