Monday, October 19, 2009

The Happy Couple

Okay, to start with I had a comp0st heap, hidden behind the pine trees out the back door. I flung all the kitchen scraps there and covered it over with old sacks held down by bricks. Everynight Mrs Tiggywinkle would snuffle by with her hand woven wicker basket covered with a cheerful, freshly laundered and pressed gingham cloth and gather goodies for her supper.
Did I just say that? I'm sorry that was a gratuitous lie.
I think more likely that every night the rat pack were foraging and ran off balancing cold potatoes on their noses. Anyway, mice were sighted in the house. To jump forward, because I got my photos back to front, here is the Michelin man and I built him yesterday to deal with the last of the scrap buffet.

Here's the transition shot where I salvaged a black bin from a neighbour down the road and got the most of the pile into it. The beautiful fork is posing. I never have enough material up at the house to require a tool of that size but I used it to load the trailer with rose prunings recently. I've always needed two bins. One for filling up while the other is rotting down.
Now I've had a marvellous book out of the library this week. Compost, the natural way to make food for your garden by Ken Thompson. 'Who would believe a book about compost could be so interesting and have such beautiful photos (of compost bins and buckets of scraps)?' I've exclaimed several times. I look up from the book to five pairs of blank eyes. To say disinterested would imply a reaction. Clearly beyond belief.
So, to summarise, it doesn't really matter what sort of bin or pile you have as long as you leave it long enough: A year. Turning the pile only accelerates the process.
Conclusion: don't bother.
The problem with my big garden bins below is that they dry out at the edges and only the middle breaks down.
Answer: Line the bins with cardboard because the ventilation is not required. And keep a cover on top to stop the moisture evaporating and to stop weed seeds blowing in. Okay, I'll do all that.
Down to the big vegetable garden bins: Here's Anthony pouring on cow muck from cleaning out the dairy shed. The guys shovel it into a heap outside if they get a 'code brown' while milking. (It has been observed that certain cows seem to save it up especially, don't worry girls, no names) I don't normally have such an embarrassment of materials: the two trailers, one was wood chips and straw out of the chicken run and the other was leaves which go into their own bin, alone for two years to really break down.
Finish with a quote from Ken:

'Don't be misled into unrealistic expectations of your compost pile. The compost
shown tumbling invitingly out of the bins in gardening programs and magazines
has been carefully sifted to remove all the annoying, twiggy bits. Either that,
or it came out of a sack of commercially produced soil conditioner.'

Hear, hear.
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  1. The name "Ken Thompson" just inspires confidence doesn;t it? ALmost as soild and reliable sounding as Ken SMith. Always trust a man called Ken!

    ANother fun blog post - I'll never get my Phd finished at this rate. I will blame the SMith sisters.

    Love MAry

  2. (That should read "solid and reliable" - not "soild" - which looks like "soiled" - appropriate perhaps in the context of gardening but not so nice when describing a person! WHoops).

  3. Aah Miri I feel completely justified now in NEVER turning my compost. Our big black bin is to save me from the guilt of sending vege scraps to landfill. It's been sitting for a year or more. Probably a lot more, now that I think about it.

  4. Ha ha! Mary, it would have been even better if you'd been describing solid and reliable underpants!
    Well, I'm so relieved that I am just one of many who shirk their compost turning/fine cutting of scraps. I think Mum is the only compost officionado in the family (did I tell you that when she shifted house she packed her compost in black plastic bags to take with her? She did. She really did. Sadly the guy who came to tidy up the garden thought it was rubbish and chucked it out.)

  5. Hi Miri - I really love that quote - especially the line that says "don't get misled into unrealistic expectations of your compost pile". That speaks of someone with a true passion for what they do. the panel beater who is giving tom some work experience has the same affection for his cars. Love in action is what the car receives in terry's tender care. I dont care if tom ever loves panel beating but Im happy he is getting to work alongside someone who totally adores what he does. I would like him to know the difference between loving what you do and enduring what you do as he enters adult life.
    Anyway - we were kind of hoping that since MAS and TMB and Benjy are coming down over the christmas period that perhaps we could join you? What are your plans? Let me know.