Want compost more quickly? The HCC is here to help

Howdy HCCers, and meet Maryann. I mentioned her in my last community profile. Maryann lives in Hackett, quite close to Katia and both became HCC graduates early this year, embarking on their own compost production with lovely new tumbling composters.

This is how Maryann explains her interest in composting:

“I am motivated by the wish to reduce my household’s waste to landfill and to use the compost to improve my garden without applying expensive artificial fertiliser. I’m encouraged by how easy HCC made it (those yoghurt buckets are a perfect size) and from your support (thanks again for the bucket of nitrogen and advice). Turning that handle is fun and watching the composing process happen is satisfying. And I was surprised to find it’s not smelly if I keep getting the brown to green ratio right.”

 

I totally agree, one of the reasons that I’m happy to work hard at creating compost is to have a productive garden while avoiding the need to buy heaps of fertiliser. When we were finally able to purchase our home (in Hackett, hooray!) I was an out of work scientist (there are a lot of us..) and spending money on the garden, even relatively small amounts like the odd bag of cow manure seemed somewhat indulgent.

But I knew there was a resource right there for the taking in the form of kitchen waste. I started collecting kitchen scraps from friends and was able to satisfy my frugality as well as my sustainable goals. In this way community compost really epitomises the circular economy as well as the gifting or share economy. What all that means is that we can redistribute resources that may be unneeded or detrimental and find value in them when used in the right way.

But how does any of this make compost more quickly? Maryann mentions that I gave her a bucket of nitrogen. This was in the form of ‘compost accelerant’, composed of a few big forkfulls of half-processed compost and a dusting of dried sheep manure. This has given Maryann’s new composter a ‘turbo boost’ by bulking up the amount of material and adding a substantial amount of nitrogen, which should heat things up. As Maryann also mentions, it’s important to keep an eye on the carbon to nitrogen ratio, adding a bit of carbon each time you add the nitrogen rich kitchen waste. This shouldn’t be an issue at all in the next little while though, as there is about to be an abundance of autumn leaves! They make for a great carbon addition to any compost heap.

I know that quite a few other community members within the HCC have their own compost heap, as well as supplying scraps to HCC headquarters. Sometimes the plastic composter in the corner of the backyard is full and slowly doing it’s thing. If you would like to speed that up I’d be happy to provide some accelerant in the form of hot, half-composted material that you can mix into your own heap. You’ll have finished compost to add to those veggie gardens in no time 🙂

Thanks very much to Maryann for showing off her spiffy composter and for being part of the conversation. I’ll be hassling other community members to feature on this blog too, but if anyone would like to volunteer then let me know and I can come over and grab a compost selfie with you and your full bucket 🙂

-Brook

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