The wonderful world of composting
Imagine turning your food waste into a product with another use? Enter the wonderful world of composting.
Nelson Environment Centre educator Sarah Langi said while composting was sometimes depicted as being quite scientific, it was something people at any level could do.
‘‘It’s like making a cake, you just need the right ingredients.
You need enough browns and enough greens.’’
‘‘Browns’’ or carbon materials included dry leaves, tree prunings, bark, crushed shells or torn newspaper while ‘‘greens’’ or nitrogen material included food waste, fresh grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and weeds without seeds.
There were several options for composting and Langi said it was important people found out what system worked for them.
Someone with a big garden could use a three-bay wooden framed compost system while someone without any garden waste would be better suited to a worm farm.
Julie’s Compost Shop owner Julie Pettit breeds tiger worms in Nelson and said she always encouraged people to have a compost system alongside their worm farm.
Worm farms required a bit of careful management, and Pettitt said the easiest way to wipe out a population was by over feeding them.
The waste produced by worms, known as ‘‘castings’’ was richer than garden compost.
Pettit was passionate about the benefits of worms and composting and wanted to encourage people to give it a go.
‘‘You have got nothing to lose and the main thing is you are not chucking a usable resource into the rubbish.
‘‘You could benefit from it breaking down rather than it going to landfill and just producing methane.’’
Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council offer residents a $20 subsidy on composting systems from participating retailers.
More information about composting can be found on the Create Your Own Eden website. www.createyourowneden.org.nz worms alive. Worm farming uses the same principles as composting, but it does not generate heat, making it cold composting. Use a layer of bedding first, hay or shredded cardboard/paper. Food can be added, cover scraps with damp newspaper or cardboard to limit flies, odour and absorb moisture. Worms eat about their own weight every day: 250g of worms will eat about 250g of waste. The worm castings can be harvested after a few months
Developed in Japan, it means ‘fermented organic matter’. It is a good option if you want to recycle almost all types of food waste but no garden waste. Each 3cm layer of waste needs to sprinkled with a fermented wheat-bran mixture containing effective microorganisms. Use a potato masher to remove excess air and keep lid tightly closed.
Drain liquid from the bottom of the bucket every few days. When bucket is full, close lid and keep in a warm place for about 10 -14 days. When it smells like pickles, it is ready to be buried in the garden. Bokashi produces compost 2-4 weeks after being buried and very little space is required as fermentation takes place in a sealed bucket.
Julie Pettitt of Julie’s Compost Shop holds a handful of worms from one of her worm farms.