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Compost

Making your own goodness

New Zealanders throw out 320kg each of compostable material each year, about 40% of household rubbish. This clogs landfills, creates toxic lechate and greenhouse gas. You're going to help change that. Composting is good for the environment, and your budget.

Make a couple of bins, reasonable sized, so you can remove the front or get the compost out somehow. You could use wood, or stacked hay bales or anything really, as long as air can get into it.
Nailing a few wooden delivery palettes together to make a square bin works well.
Throw in some sticks first, then put in all your food scraps, lawnsclippings, dried leaves, vacuum cleaner bag content, ripped up paper, seaweed and garden waste. Keep it covered as it likes to get warm.
  Whenever you throw in some green stuff (food scraps, lawn clippings, add some brown stuff too (hay, dried leaves, sticks, paper).
Add some animal manure, and a sprinkling of lime once in a while. Don't worry if you forget.

After a while - say when the bin is getting full or you can't remember when you started the compost - it's good to turn it over into another bin. It may be a bit of a gluggey, stinky mess. thats ok. It will eventually break down completely - it just takes time.
Basically, the compost just needs air, a bit of moisture and material to break down (some green, some brown). With a bit of luck, worms will get into it as well: that will really speed things up and save the world a bit faster.

Top tips for composting.

Everything that was alive will rot, just mix it up a bit.
Throw in heaps of brown, green twigs and moisture, eventually it will be usable compost. Keep meat out it will attract rats.

A cheap compost can be made out of chicken wire and stakes.
Make the chicken wire circle slightly under a metre round. It needs to be big enough to hold some heat.
If it is too big it will not build up fast enough to get a critical mass.

A large compost pile (no bin at all) built all at one time, out of all the available materials in your garden, is cleaner and faster to break down than food scrap compost.
Some people like to build these piles in the Autumn and one in the Spring to be ready for the following season.

There are plenty of compost bins that you can simply buy from a store, if you want to keep the whole thing looking tidier. This is probably best if you have very limited space. Care will still need to be taken to mix the materials in the bin to stop it smelling.

Watch out for too many grass clippings. If you pile up your grass clippings all in one place, add some course branchy material and poke holes into the pile with a stick to encourage aerobic activity.

Bokashi composting

Bokashi is essentially a 20 litre bucket with holes in the bottom and a sealed lid placed inside another bucket.
Food scraps are sprinkled with an active micro-organism that, when wet, begins to ferment and breaks down the food inside.
The end result is a rich organic liquid that drains out the bottom and is collected in the second bucket.
This strong plant food can be diluted and used to feed plants.

Once the bucket is full, it takes about six weeks to completly break down. Two Bokashi kits are handy so you can keep one in use while the other one is sitting.

Check out for more information the Bokashi website. www.zingbokashi.co.nz

This is an abstract from the booklet "just gardening" feb 2009
Produced by The Social Justice commission of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa.
http://justice.anglican.org.nz

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