If you have the opportunity then now is the time to get a compost heap going. It can take up to a year for the organic material to break down and the soil be ready for use, so here in the southern hemisphere, compost heaps are already on the go.
We are constantly hearing now of grocery supply chains breaking down, governments becoming police states and things becoming increasingly unstable, so food is likely to be in short supply, even by the next growing season, time to look for resources that will benefit plants and ways to build soil quality for these little green food factories to thrive on.
Most gardeners know that compost is a valuable source of nutrients for plants but buying compost may not be possible soon, fortunately however making compost is not difficult. So here are some basic tips about how to make it happen.
Build an enclosure that is aerated, maybe 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres . Wooden pallets are useful to use.
and then start the first layer.
You can put anything organic in a compost heap, it will break down.
The smaller one breaks things up to go in the heap, the sooner it will turn into compost and I tend to layer things, like small sticks, grass clippings then leaves, coffee grinds, household organic material, old garden soil, seedless weeds, etc. and then more sticks, grass clippings, seaweed etc.
It is a good idea to also add some animal manure in between the layers. This gets things working and the most readily available and useful animal manure is humanure.
Just think that when you flush the toilet in a conventional home a valuable resource is being lost, one that could in the future make the difference between eating and not eating.
If you are fortunate to live in a rural area or even a suburban area that is suitable then making compost which includes humanure for the garden is a great idea, if you do it right.
The design of a composting toilet can be critical.
One of the best composting toilets I have come across, makes use of electricity. Three things are happening when a deposit is made. Firstly, a low strength heating pad in the base of the utility slowly dries out the material above. Then, from time to time a stainless steel arm kicks into action and rotates and turns the material over. Thirdly a built in extractor fan removes all smells, making the area pleasant to be in. Wood shavings are applied on top of the deposit too.
After about ten days to two weeks, a draw is opened at the base of the unit and a tray is withdrawn. It contains dry compost which can then be added to the compost heap between layers of other materials. One year later the compost is completely transformed and is ready to be used in the garden.
Many people who make humanure don’t use this drying process described and they also have useful results. The adding of materials during the depositing procedure, include lime, wood shavings, sawdust and sometime coconut fibre. Materials like this can be sufficient to get things working.
Other things to consider when making compost are… having the right amount of moisture in the heap, turning the heap once or twice during the year and it doesn’t hurt to check the temperature at the centre of the heap occasionally.
Finally, worms. Attracting earthworms into a compost heap is beneficial because they burrow through, aerating the soil and creating earthworm droppings (castings) which are considered valuable as a nutrient source for plants. Having earthworms right to the top of a heap (or just under the surface) is a sure signs that the balance in the compost is correct.