Well I have had a dirty weekend away getting down and grubby with compost and worms (…and Karen!) What a fascinating weekend 🙂
When I signed up to become a ‘Master Composter’ I wasn’t sure what to expect and how they were going to fill two solid days of training talking about compost, was beyond me. I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute.
There were about twenty of us willing volunteers being trained from all walks of life and three different councils, with a variety of reasons for being there but with a common aim: to pass the composting message on.
Kate, Alex and David, our knowledgeable & enthusiastic trainers for the weekend all work for Garden Organic and what they don’t know about composting and wormeries isn’t worth knowing.
Manuals, books and information sheets were handed out to all the volunteers to read, digest (excuse the pun) and refer to once we are let loose on the public.
The session started with Kate asking us to get to know our neighbour and find out an interesting fact about them. We then had to introduce our buddy and share the information with the rest of the group. Some amazing and very interesting facts came out including some one who had lived in the woods for a year, another had slept in a snow hole and someone had shared a hot tub with a famous boxer! Next up an ‘Introduction to Garden Organic and the Master Composter Scheme’ then we looked at ‘Why Compost?’ which concluded with a well earned tea break.
Good question…it isn’t all about allotments and growing things or about ‘The Good Life’ it is about WASTE, WASTE DISPOSAL and reducing the amount of rubbish going to LANDFILL.
Local councils are targeted to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and increase the amount of recycling by households (both of which costs money to the tax payer) as well as composting, re-using or upcycling. Landfill sites are becoming full so if we all started to compost it would reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
The average household can divert up to 150kg of waste from landfill as a result of home composting. This in turn reduces the amount of methane gas produced which helps reduce global warming.
Note: When waste is sent to landfill it does not break down as air cannot get to it to help it break down and more and more waste is piled on top which results in the production of methane gas.
Did you know councils pay on the tonnage they send to landfill it currently costs Leicestershire County Council £120/tonne of waste they send. Sending recycling to a plant also has a cost but it is a lot less than waste disposal and better for the environment. A lot of the ‘reuse initiatives’ mean that many items don’t end up in landfill, especially bulky items, so don’t incur a cost.
Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms kitchen and garden waste into valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden, pots and tubs. It is easy to make and use. Check out this site for inspiration.
What is Compost?
Compost is the breakdown of organic material by oxygen. There are three stages to the composting process; degradation, conversion and maturation. Each stage uses hundreds of different organisms including bacteria, fungi, insects and worms to leave you with a rich earthy substance full of valuable nutrients that plants and soil need.
What can you Compost?
Back to the training – We played a game where cards were distributed: we had to put them into piles of YES, NO or CAUTION to see what we already knew about composting and more importantly what we didn’t! The was lots of debate about whether it was Yes or No happened in our team!
The YES‘s can be further split into GREENS and BROWNS and an equal mix of both is needed as GREENS are the ‘wet’ materials which add moisture, nitrogen and rot quickly. The BROWNS provide carbon, fibre, allow air pockets to form and rot slowly.
GREENS include but not exclusive – vegetable peelings, tea bags, grass cuttings, cut flowers, nettles, comfrey leaves, rhubarb leaves and poisonous plants.
BROWNS include but not exclusive – cardboard, egg boxes, egg shells, wood ash, cotton wool and woollen jumpers (who knew).
The NO’s include cooked food, fat, coal ash, plastics, meat and fish scrapings, dairy products and dog faeces.
Those in the CAUTION pile include perennial weeds, Christmas trees, diseased plants and evergreen prunings (which you can compost but they need a bit more attention).
What type of Compost bin should I get?
Who knew there were so many different compost bins available!
There is something for almost every garden and every pocket depending on your need. Whether you want a ”hot’ or ‘cold’ composter, a digester, a tumbler, a leaf mould, a wormery, one with a base, one without, natural wood looking one, cheap or expensive plastic one, instant or build one etc etc: the list is endless.
As groups we had to design our ideal compost bin…which ended up being my favourite made from upcycling pallets. I would like to have a go at making this design and putting it in my garden if I can ever get my hands on some pallets (before hubbie chops them up and burns them in the wood burner!)
Not enough space for a compost bin or live in a flat without outside space…no problem, a wormery could be the answer.
What is a Wormery?
Yes it is in the title, a wormery contains WORMS! and lots of them.
Wormeries are small scale units so they are suitable for people with no room for a standard compost bin or for use with children who love getting down with nature. They can be kept inside or in warmer months, outside. The worms digest kitchen waste to produce both compost and a liquid fertiliser (or drain cleaner as one of the trainers, Alex told us).
Whilst you can buy wormeries, again in different sizes and costs, they are quite simple to make according to Alex who had made her own. She had bought three small black plastic boxes from Ikea one with a lid, drilled holes in the top two boxes to allow the worms to move about and liquid to drain down to the bottom box, bought some fishing worms and started to feed them with kitchen waste: nice and compact and very portable and more importantly cheap to make. You can see it in the picture above.
Compost! Compost! Compost!
Hopefully I have opened your eyes to the possibility of introducing composting into your life, garden, neighbourhood. I am now a ‘Master Composter’ and as part of the scheme I have signed up to dedicate thirty hours to promote, present and push composting.
If you would like more information, have some questions or just a chat (about composting!) then get in touch and I will be happy to help r point you in the right direction.
Right I am off to Ikea to look for black boxes and the fishing shop for worms 🙂