MOO I MADE IT!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Posted on: November 11, 2008

to Shiitake, originally uploaded by xamonster.

This week is National Recycling Week. The focus is on not only recycling but recycling RIGHT, so if you’d like more info to make sure you’re doing it right you can find more info here.

I went to another fantastic free workshop at Braybrook Community Garden on Saturday morning to talk about my favourite kind of recycling – COMPOSTING! It was called ‘Inputs = Outputs = Inputs: Sustainable Veggie Gardening’

I really liked Scott’s explanation and reasons to compost – it’s about keeping as many of the safe nutrients in your system. It’s yours, you paid for it so don’t throw it away!

We love composting so much that we have THREE kinds of composting systems in our house, though seeing it’s just a couple of us, we’re currently only operating two. But we have a bokashi bucket, a worm farm and a Compost Oven.

There’s quite a bit of information available on the net about bokashi buckets and worm farms so I won’t bother going into the details here. I think we were extremely lucky to get a Compost Oven as I can’t seem to find any info on how to purchase them on the net anymore. I heard about it from the guys at NECO when we had a home assessment and happened to see a stall at the 2007 Gardening Australia Expo in Melbourne but they seem to have vanished from the net but it’s amazing! See the link above to see what it’s about.

I will share a few of my tips on the three systems though:

Bokashi, originally uploaded by podchef.

BOKASHI

  • PROS – biggest pros are that you can compost all food scraps including cooked food and even meat
  • COSTS – cons are the initial cost of the bucket and the ongoing cost of the bokashi mixture that you sprinkle on the scraps but there are recipes on the net to make your own. And in truth it took us ages to get through a packet of bokashi mixture.
  • SMELL? – despite what they say it’s not true that it doesn’t smell at all. I found the scraps themselves didn’t tend to smell too much but the bokashi ‘juice’ that can be a bit on the nose. We would find that not too much would come out of the tap as we filled the bucket up, but when it was full and we went to empty it there would be loads of juice at the bottom that would be quite um fragrant! after all, you are pickling your waste.
  • DIGGING THE TRENCHES – we kind of stopped using the bokashi bucket after we got the worm farm and planted up our yard. While it is true that this system is great if you have small apartment and not much of a yard, you need to bury the bokashi waste somewhere and we did end up finding it a bit problematic to find a new spot to dig a trench to bury it in once we planted up our yard. However, the spot that you bury it into really does take off later! But the truth is, I’m just too lazy to dig trenches

Transition Complete, originally uploaded by *bky.

WORM FARM

  • I love our worm farm! It took me a little while to figure out how to best get the worms eating their food and get them going but they have really multiplied and chow everything down now
  • A couple of tips I found online are that if you want your worms to eat the food scraps more quickly the best thing to do is whizz your scraps in a food processor or break them down a little – either by keeping them in the freezer and defrosting and giving to the worms later. Or by cooking them in the microwave in some water but you have to let it cook before giving them to the worms. I just find it quicker to fill a 2 litre bucket of scraps, stick them in my food processor and add a bucket full of water and make it one great big sloppy mess and pour the mixture on top and cover with shredded paper. They seem to love it and the extra water helps give me more worm wee. It doesn’t drown the worms and it’s just like a big rain downpour for them. Ever since I started doing this they have really taken off.
  • I keep a bucket under the tap (which I keep open) of the worm farm, the farm slightly tilted at the back so that any liquid can pour straight into the bucket. I can do this because we keep the worm farm in our shed and I don’t have to worry about my dog doing anything crazy like drink it… which I wouldn’t put past him and would rather not imagine!
  • Also – what they say about worms not like citrus, onions and raw potato – it’s TRUE. Well I know about the citrus at least. One time I couldn’t be bothered taking out some lemon peel that had made its way into the worm compost bucket so I blitzed it in the food processor – thinking, ah they won’t notice. The week after I fed it to them I found little yellow specks everywhere because they didn’t touch it! Don’t know why I thought they wouldn’t notice because I blitzed it – they’re blind after all der.
  • I have to say I prefer our worm farm to the bokashi because it’s less work and instant reward. We have a constant supply of worm wee. It really doesn’t smell AT ALL. I’ve found it really easy to manage and I think part of the reason it’s been such a breeze is because we keep it in our brick garage and the temperature is good for them, I don’t have to worry about the pets getting at it or the rain drowning them etc and it stays nice and clean on the outside. I am still a little funny about the actual worms – I’m not one of those worm farm owners that likes to play with them, they ick me out a little but I appreciate their work very much! I just don’t want to touch them that’s all. I have a full tray of castings now and have put the second level on but I haven’t gotten around to using them yet. I think it’s broken down a little too and there’s heaps of worms in the bottom level as well so I will have to build it up again an coax them up to the top before I reach in there.
  • I honestly can’t think of any cons of my worm farm. But you need more than just a worm farm if you have a garden because what are you going to do with all your green garden waste? The worms have no teeth so they can’t chow down pruned plant stems, you need a compost bin as well…
Compost Oven

Compost Oven

COMPOST OVEN

  • I don’t want to go on about the Compost Oven too much because I don’t know if they are still available. But it originally featured on The New Inventors (see video here). Note that the http://www.compostoven.com website doesn’t seem to be the product that I am talking about, I’m not sure what’s going on there. It just seems to be some kind of aggregate site for compost advertising at the moment, which breaks my heart but I secretly hope it means that they are commercially producing the Compost Oven now and gone into hibernation until it’s finished. It’s invented by Mike Morrison who I believe developed the technology behind the rather pricey Aerobin, but takes things one step further. There is a core that allows airflow to help speed up the composting process but the Compost Oven also heats it up using a copper coil that goes around the coil. You initially fill it with hot water but after that it self circulates and keeps itself hot, heating the compost, which in turn keeps the coil hot etc etc.. And it was all sealed in a thermal insulated unit – some kind of foil covered bubble wrap to keep it really warm. And it really works! Our compost breaks down in no time at all! It’s not as pretty as the Aerobin but my god it gets the job done. They were selling the Compost Oven Lungs as well if you just wanted to put on within an existing compost bin or even if you just did big compost piles that you wanted to heat up more. And they also had another system called the Hot Compost which heated it up to a higher temperature that allowed you compost pet waste too. Oh, I hope they make a return! If I hear anything I will be sure to do a post about it
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2 Responses to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"

Hi,

Wonderful post, thanks for the info. Moreover Compost Piles are Not Just for Hippies Anymore…

One of the most powerful air pollutants is the naturally occurring organic gas, methane. It is a far better greenhouse gas than carbon and is now found in the atmosphere at concentrations of more than 150% over pre-industrial levels.

When people put organic matter in the regular waste stream, these coffee grounds and sandwich crusts are acted upon by decomposing microorganisms, with methane being a common by-product. This is why garbage dumps must be equipped with release valves. Otherwise, they\’d literally explode from the pressure.

One way to avoid the bulk and threat of such waste is to keep your own compost pile. These are not difficult to keep, even if entire books can be written on the finer points. Nor do they need to smell bad. Many cities are now separately collecting organic wastes as part of municipal compost programs, many of which are then used as fertilizer for city and park lands.

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