Changing the way you think about waste is the first step in producing compost that will make your garden flourish and help the environment.
Loop Growers at Draper composts on a large scale, taking kitchen scraps from 15 cafes and restaurants and using the organic material to grow fruit and vegetables. These are sold back to the suppliers — closing the loop.
It is the brainchild of Alice Star and Phil Garozzo, who view these scraps as yield, not waste. So, when Moreton Life was looking for a composting guide for dummies we turned to Alice for advice.
“You have to change your notion of what waste is and start thinking about the food scraps you’re throwing away as a resource,” she explains. Alice says there are a few important rules to follow when composting.
1. Separate your waste: Acidic materials and egg shells can slow down your compost. If there is only a small amount going in, it won’t do too much harm, but if there is a fair amount, keeping them separate is best. Dry out your egg shells and crush them before adding them to the compost to speed up their breakdown.
2. Use two or three compost bins: Have at least two bins, so one can be rested once it’s full. This will give you an opportunity to use what you’ve produced. Ideally, you’d have three bins — a third for acidic scraps.
3. Add carbon to the mix: If you’re just adding fruit and vegetable scraps, you’re essentially just adding nitrogen and because the mix isn’t balanced with carbon it smells bad. Alice says many people abandon composting when this happens. For each scoop of scraps you add to your compost, you should add two scoops of carbon (leaf litter, sugar cane mulch, dried grass clippings).
4. Make sure it’s not too wet: The mix needs to be moist but not dripping wet through your fingers when you squeeze it. Alice recommends soaking your carbon material in water overnight before putting it in the compost bin or pile. That will give the mix the moisture it needs.
5. Keep it aerated: Add small tree branches for aeration. These branches won’t break down as quickly and can be pulled out and used again, once the compost is finished.
6. Use your compost: You know it’s ready when it feels and looks like soil. Chunky bits are OK because they will continue to break down once added to the garden. Compost can be added to veggie patches, herb and flower gardens, pot plants and even directly onto your lawn. The combination of compost and plant roots helps to create the perfect environment for good microbes and fungi to thrive in your soil.
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