Sunday, 28 October 2007

Chook Compost

Today I used the first batch of my own compost! Chris (husband) came out and saw me spreading it over the veggie patch and got all excited about it. "We made our own compost!" he exclaimed and the proceeded to ask me if it was the most satisfying thing I'd ever done. I think actually eating the produce is more satisfying but it certainly brought a sense of achievement. You can see the compost spread around one of my cucumbers in the picture on the left.
Since space is precious in our garden, I was reluctant to create a big compost patch but I need lots of compost! As a result, we've developed our own compost system to use our space as well as we can. It starts in the chook pen with everything organic added to it. This includes weeds, lawn clippings, hedge clippings, vegetable scraps, leftover dinners (but not meat or anything that looks like an egg) and of course plenty of chook poo. Here's a picture of it taken in July this year with a mountain of clover weeded from the garden. The floor of the pen is about 30cm below the level of the ground around it. (I also put a wire floor under the pen and sewed it to the walls to keep rodents out.)

The chooks do most of the turning and mixing for me as they sort through it for their choice of the veggie scraps and weeds. We still need to do some turning and I've also added a bale of pea straw because it seemed too wet and was going slimy. Soon after adding the pea straw, we moved the compost into a black bin and left it for 6 weeks to decompose further. After the 6 weeks, it's ready to use.

Here's what it looks like today. The chooks are out roaming the garden but they'll be back at night. I'll turn it and add some straw if needed this afternoon. Then I'll leave it for a week without adding any more to the pen (except chook poo which I can't stop). After that, it will be ready to move to the black bin and the cycle will continue.


Anonymous said...

That's great,it's always a good feeling to make good compost, like good meringues! I hope you dug in the compost around the seedlings otherwise if its left on the surface all your good work will be wasted.

Kate said...

You will probably put some mulch like peastraw over the veg area, including the freshly laid compost, for summer and I reckon this will do, Deb. The worms will turn it in then.

Chook said...

hmmm - I was going to leave this compost on top to act as mulch for now then turn it in once these seedlings have finished. (A few weeks ago, I turned in compost from my dad's garden for these plants to use.) My compost would be "eaten" by the next lot ...or do you think the nutrients will be lost by then?

Deborah Cantrill said...

I would highly recomend lightly incorporating into the soil. In an ideal world you would have done this before you put in the seedlings. Covering it with compost will help but to inprove soil tilth & fertility its best to dig it in. Good compost will dry out quickly on the surface. Just leave some uncovered for a few days sometimes only hours & it will dry out & become water repellent.
There is a big difference between good compost & mulch, they have totally different roles to start with.
Ps my passion is compost,the tilth of my soil reflects this.

Kate said...

This is why your place truly is Nirvana and mine is not ! I go with nature - but sometimes we can improve on that and sometimes its all too hard !

Anonymous said...

Its not hard Kate just a matter of rhythm and experience.