Tidy is a funny word to use in relation to compost but that’s what I decided to do. The area where I had been dumping my kitchen scraps was looking messy. All our scraps had been piling up in the back corner of my garden for almost two years. The fact that the pile wasn’t massive made me think that stuff was breaking down and there had to be compost at the bottom of this pile.
I never turned this pile. I just kept adding kitchen scraps like fruit, veg, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds and mushroom paper bags. Nature did the rest. Indeed, underneath the top layer was crumbly brown compost that had loads of different types of worms and bugs in there. I scooped up what I needed and popped in into the wheelbarrow. Two interesting items were at the bottom of this compost pile – a glass marble and a trowel head (the wooden handle had been composted away and now I knew where my missing trowel went!)
I raked the remaining materials back into a pile. But this time, I was going to help nature along in the composting process. Even though I didn’t have enough material to create a super big hot compost pile, (you need the pile big to generate the heat needed for a hot compost) I could make the pile as big as I could, add some compost activators and cover the pile with an old plastic backed picnic blanket.
What is a Compost Activator?
I wanted to kick-start the composting process by adding a compost activator. An article I have read said an activator isn’t necessary for a compost pile but other articles say that it helps to speed up the composting process. Comfrey is a compost activator. As I have loads of comfrey in the garden, I thought why not add it to the compost pile.
Seaweed is also a compost activator. I had some powdered seaweed in the garage. So, I made up a full watering can and sprinkled this on the top of the pile.
Not getting too hung up on the process
Yes, there are rules that must be followed if you want to create the ‘perfect’ compost. We once created a huge hot compost pile when we were moving from a rented property. We had limited time before we left and decided this was the way to go. With hot composting you do need to get carbon/nitrogen ratios right and have a large volume of materials. So we followed the rules and it worked a treat. It was amazing to watch steam come out from the middle of the pile when it was being turned especially on a cold Melbourne winter’s day. By the time we left the property, we were able to spread that compost over the garden beds.
However, from that time up until today, I haven’t exactly followed any rules apart from not putting in leftover cooked food and crazy weeds like madeira to the pile. I know that the cold composting method doesn’t kill seeds so I will have random plants pop up, when I use this on the garden. Marigolds are my favourite pop up plant!
How about you? What are your compost tips and tricks? We would love to hear them. Please feel free to comment below.