Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Throw me on the compost when I die

Nature is the ultimate recycler every living thing one day returns to soil and feeds the next generation. I guess if nature was unable to do this life would have ceased a long time ago. My thoughts are that a garden should be able to be completely self sufficient. However home vegetables gardens have small leeks in the cycle mainly we eat the produce and don’t return our waste including out bodies when we die  back into the garden. One day I might improve things by getting a composting toilet but in the mean time I need to continually replenish my soil from external sources.

We live in suburbia but close to the foot hills so in less than ten minutes drive you enter a semi-rural area where you find allot of horse enthusiasts. So after a small amount of exploration I found a supplier of free manure at a horse riding school for the disabled. Not only is the manure free but the children get free entertainment feeding carrots to the horses while I shovel.

Every Saturday I go to the local organic store to buy our weekly groceries. This time I asked the owner if I could have their food scraps. Vivian said “yes” then presented me with a bucket load of scraps. Unfortunately I am not the only person with this great idea as she informed me that I will have to share the scraps with another customer. Conveniently they collect on Wednesday so I will be getting Thursday to Saturdays scraps. And all I had to do was ask.

On most Sundays we have a family outing and cycle our way to visit grandma. It is a pleasant ride as most of the journey winds along a creek. So this time, bike trailer in tow, I decided to stop and collect water weeds. I believe they are an excellent source of nutrients. Along the track there are signs talking about a rejuvenation project in progress to improve the waterways to there once indigenous glory. So I am thinking I am just helping out.

Our grandma bike journey also takes us behind a shopping center where there is always mountains of discarded bread. We loaded a dozen loafs into the trailer to take home. Even though I am sure some of them are perfectly fine to eat ourselves our intention is to leave that to the organisms living in our garden.

I didn’t get around to doing it this weekend but I was also intending to approach my neighbours to empty their green bins for them.

Besides being free the wonderful part about collecting resources in this way is that it is fun and fits into our normal routine, with little extra time overhead. I dislike taking the kids to the hardware store and I don’t think they enjoy it much either. But it was a pleasure to see them playing in the creek and there was even excitement collecting the discarded bread.

Where do you get your compost material from?


  1. Hi Jason,

    I seem to have plenty of green waste that ends up in the compost bins or food for the chooks. With a twice monthly cleanout of the chookhouse, I get lots of brown matter for the compost!


  2. I'm with Gavin, not much goes food waste goes in my compost...the goats and the chooks snaffle it. However, I use their manure, along with any other I can find, and their bedding, layered with grass clippings to build instant compost heaps that heat up within a few hours. I just keep poking holes in the piles with a broom handle and wiggle it about to let in the air. Once the heap cools all my friends (worms and bugs) move in. Ah, compost is a wonderful thing!

  3. I'm with both of the above but I also get beautiful free stable manure that is mixed with sawdust and straw. We dig from the bottom of the pile where the worms are already plentiful and the manure has already broken down. We also regularly turn the chook yard and periodically take dirt from this area as it builds up too.

  4. Gavin that's great you already have plenty of organic mater coming into the garden. So is that just from kitchen scraps?

    Hazel same here, most of my kitchen scraps, weeds, etc produced in the household go to chickens. You mention you find other manure, so where do you get that from? And yes compost is a wonderful thing. It still amazes me how everything turns to soil. I wished my composts heated up like yours. I am going to be doing some experiments on this. Stay tuned.

    Tanya ah stable manure. A horse owners trash is a gardeners treasure. Pre mixed, now that is an added bonus. Do you have to collect it yourself? I also do the trick of digging out the bottom of the pile.

  5. Hi Jason. Most of my green fixers come from my kitchen and I buy a range of manures from cheap suppliers around the place. Once I have my chooks (1 week to go!) I intend on using their straw/sawdust and poo. At the moment I use a range of mulches and I think diversity is important. Free scraps from the local store is very resourceful but I'd be careful of weed seeds particularly if you're not hot composting as cold composting won't kill them.

  6. We have so many green scraps at our place...plus the rice hull chook poop bedding from the henhouse...and the recycled paper litter plus rabbit poop from the bunny's litter tray...I fear our compost is too small to handle the amount we have to compost.

  7. I'll post again.. first one didn't work -

    Okay. It's my turn to be amazed now ----- just this weekend we drove past that exact sign *twilight zone theme music playing* do you hear that music? My husband pointed it out to me and said "this will be much closer to come to than Hahndorf" which is where we just got a trailer load full a couple of weeks ago. Bizarre !! (not that we both saw the same sign, we are practically neighbours) but that you have a photo of it on your blog! take care and well done harvesting the free stuff, great work! We may even bump into you one day, shovel in tow. take care - Yollie

  8. Mrs Bok it is good to here so many people have adequate organic material for their garden within their own home. Sounds like you need a second compost heap. Don't know if you would be able to post me the humus though?

    Yollie yes I can hear the twilight music. Even though we are practically neighbours I still think it is amazing that we saw the same sign around the same time. I have lived here for 4 years and that is the first time I have seen the sign. In fact I have probably only driven down that road a couple of times.

    It is also comforting to know you are another person like me who needs to source external manure. Especially considering you have a lot of animals at your place.

  9. Hee, hee, hee - very true Jason, regarding out-sourcing the manure -I will have to have a chat with my lot! Also it's same for us. We were on our way to Blackwood for a relaxed wk/end drive and my husband decided, spur of the moment to take that route!!! And it was also the first time we had come across that sign! take care and enjoy the rest of your week.

  10. Jason, raw manure (from farm animals) is one of the good compost ingredients. So continue with what you have started.. And here's some of my good compost materials:

    Sawdust (except from allelopathic trees such as black walnut, eucalyptus, and red cedar)
    Wood ash (in small amounts),
    Vegetable kitchen waste, including coffee grounds and tea bags (Omit meat, salad green with oil-based dressings, and buttered vegetables),
    Dried corncobs*
    Dried seeweed or kelp, Soil

  11. Thanks Nicholas, that's a good list of compost material. Interesting about omitting oil-based dressing and buttered vegetables. I'm interested to know why?


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