Turning your foodscraps to fabulous fertiliser!

Still wasting your food scraps? Bundling them off to the rubbish tip to release a stack of methane into the atmosphere? (Methane is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas!) OK your Council might take your scraps to an appropriate processing plant, but they still have to be lugged there in a fossil-fuelled truck.  OK, enough of the guilts!

Unless you have NO garden or balcony, there is a method of turning your foodscraps into fantastic fertiliser for you to grow whatever you love growing – and it’s always on hand for your gardening binges!   We’ve been teaching these 3 methods to West Australians since 2001.

If you have a sunny spot in a backyard, we suggest you recycle your food waste, lawn clippings, weeds, cardboard, etc. in a pair of compost bins, buried about 20 cms into the ground. You’ll fill one bin, then let it mature, adding fresh scraps to the second bin. By the time you fill the second bin, the contents of the first bin will be about ready to work their magic in your garden!

We suggest solid round compost bins with well-fitting lids and no air holes or trapdoor. We recommend Tumbleweed/Gedye bins which come in 220L (for an average suburban backyard) or 400L for bigger sites or just 150L for smaller. These sturdy bins are made in NSW from recycled plastic, so are part of the waste cycle in two ways! Guaranteed for 12 years, we’re still using a pair my folks bought back in 1978, faded but fine!

See our neighbour Opal (left) using her corkscrew aerator (sold as Compost Mates or Aerators from big hardware stores)  – brilliant for adding in that magic ingredient – oxygen without straining your back. For our full compost recipe
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For a shady spot in smaller gardens, or just balconies with pot plants OR for anyone who wants the very special ‘worm wee’ to add powerful microbial life to your soil. Although we have loads of compost we use worm wee when planting out seedlings and as a pick-me-up for unhappy looking plants.

You can make your own farm in a converted de-gassed fridge (available from some tip shops) or old bath, or polystyrene boxes. Or for a very convenient and neat item we recommend Tumbleweed’s Worm Café which can be safely driven to Grandma’s when you’re off on a long summer trip.

If you do invest in a Worm Café and a big gang of worms (we recommend ~1000 for one person’s scraps, ~2000+ for 2+ bods) you will be starting them off in the lowest of the 3 working trays. When full of castings, you put scraps in the next tray up, and the worms will ‘eat their way up’ into it. Liquid drains down thru the working trays to the solid-based collector tray.

Best not to give them citrus, bread and other starches, onions, meat and fish at first, but once you’ve really got the hang of it, you can introduce smallish quantities of these until your worms are omnivorous! Lots of folks with small gardens are running worms and bokashi, to deal with the different types of foodscraps.
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Fermentation kitchen composting was developed by a Japanese scientist. It’s ideal for small households with small gardens, meat eaters or folks who are away a lot, AND for wormfarmers or composters who’d like to do something with those meaty, cheesy, prawny, citrussy scraps plus those sad science experiments from the back of the fridge (eg the way past use-by marinated fetta for that special occasion!)

You’ll still need at least 5m2 of garden in which to bury the fermented foodscraps so they turn into compost. The bucket sits in your kitchen. Empty your day’s food waste into it, sprinkle the microbe liquid or granules onto it …
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