HCC branching out
It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog but rest assured that the heap has been humming away and there is more afoot at the HCC besides. I’ve been working hard to see how the HCC can divert more and more of Canberra’s household organics from landfill. For that we need more households to sign up to the HCC and we also need more composting locations. I like to think of these additional compost heaps as ‘composting nodes’ within a network. Efficient composting is all about having the right resources in the right quantities at the the right time. With connected composting nodes, feedstocks and capacity can be managed in such a way that all of the separate compost heaps are utilised for maximum productivity. Because the HCC uses hot composting it is important to turn the compost often and to do that you need empty composting space. Therefore, I was thrilled to find some ready made composting space available for purchase at the Green shed:
The new composting node has been installed in a not so secret location and has already been filled with goodies including some semi-compost to provide it with productive occupants (hard working fungi and bacteria). The only thing that was wrong with the second hand composter was missing thumb screws to keep the lid on nicely. Innovating with some old inner tubes sorted that problem. The new node is on my Saturday bucket collection route. Emptying buckets halfway on the bucket run enables me to rescue even more scraps with the trusty trike.
More composting capacity has also become available at HCC headquarters with the offloading of a large pile of semi-compost to contributor Michelle and family in Downer. They are re-landscaping their garden so the semi-compost will add valuable organic material back into their soil, allowing it to hold onto nutrients and water better.
Of course, with so much composting occurring there is a constant need for ‘browns’ or carbon-rich materials. Thank you to everyone who has donated leaves lately! Although there are still plenty of autumn leaves lying around on nature-strips etc. there is a fair bit of effort involved in raking up large quantities of these so I appreciate every bag that comes ready for use in the compost.
I passed some leaves on however, to share the composting love. A community member had recommended the HCC to North Ainslie Primary (thanks Maree!) so that I could pass on some compost advice. So I trundled down there in the trike to meet Kylie who is looking after the school heap. It was looking good! But we discussed how to make it even more productive. The great thing about managing a heap for greater productivity means that you can actually transform a larger quantity of kitchen organics without requiring extra space. If your compost heap at home or school is overflowing feel free to get in touch, if I have the time I would love to visit more heaps. To ‘remediate’ the Ainslie school heap slightly I took along some coffee grounds and some semi-compost as well as the donation of leaves. Tips that we discussed included having a nice thick layer of nitrogen rich materials (that’s where the coffee grounds came in handy), which might involve saving up scraps for a few days before adding to the heap. Then, adding an adequate layer of browns (dry leaves, shredded paper) onto the scraps layer, and then covering the whole lot with semi-finished compost. This final cover layer helps to retain heat and moisture as well as deter pests. It also means that the compost from other bays that is maturing can be cycled back through, giving it more of a chance to break down further, and also freeing up space for compost turning.
I also found some time to use a leaf shredder that was purchased from gumtree a few months ago. I’m hoping to use it to shred the oak leaves which are in abundance in the nearby suburbs. It worked wonderfully for a little while but then the circuit in the machine overloaded for some unknown reason and refuses to reset 🙁 If anyone is handy with simple electronics I’d love to figure out if it will still work!
And something that has been on the HCC agenda for a while… expanding operations to Braddon! I will start carrying out scraps collections in Braddon soon but to make this viable in the long term we really need dozens of households/apartments to sign on, and to provide not only scraps but also a monthly donation/composting fee. The suggested donation for apartments is $6 per month so it’s really not much! But hopefully will be enough to pay a casual staff member to ride the trike around and do a bit of compost turning etc. If you or someone you know would like to sign on as a Braddon pledge, please email Brook@compost.org.au
All in all, it’s exciting times at the HCC, hopefully we can make the ‘Hackett’ in HCC more of a legacy moniker in the near future as we expand the composting network and divert more and more from landfill.