If you do not already have a composting method in place at home, ask yourself why. Write a list of all the things that prevent you from composting the organic waste generated in your home and kitchen. Where do your fruit and vegetable cuttings and peelings go? Egg shells, egg trays, cardboard? Are these thrown into your garbage bin with everything else? Perhaps they are first put into a plastic bag first to minimise the stench as they rot and then into the bigger bag that lines your large bin? How do you feel every time you put the trash out for these bags to be added to land fill?
Throwing organics out with the trash is an act that breaks a link in the chain of the cycle of life itself. We each play a role in the symbiotic relationships that make our community whole. The organic materials that appear in your kitchen almost every day have a role to play in nature. It is up to us to allow its purpose to be fulfilled as this is key to establishing sustainability in our homes.
Composting does not require fancy methods and it is not a smelly mess in a rotting pile. If you have any land around your home, no matter how small, you can give it purpose.
My suggestion is to dig a hole, chuck your kitchen waste in and cover it up. If possible, choose an area in your garden with the least human traffic to bury your organic materials in layers of cut grass, leaves and twigs between each layer of waste. This way, organics go directly from your kitchen to the earth just as it would in nature – like when a monkey eats a fruit and the peel or core is discarded to compost and return to the soil.
Think about nature and how everything falls to the ground and decomposes, layer upon layer, eventually becoming healthy earth.
I have a YOLO Compost Tumbler.
My kitchen scraps go into the tumbler first, and then from there I dig the composted material into the ground. The tumbler keeps my compost tidy and protects it from pests – like rodents – until I get around to digging it in.
Trench composting is a way of composting by burying kitchen organics directly in the garden, allowing this to compost and then planting above the trench the next year. I came across a great example of composting trenches at the very inspiring garden at Krag Lohry’s house. Krag’s garden is located at the top of a valley, in Port Elizabeth where his passion for gardening, composting and sustainability has opened the minds of the people in his community.
Krag has refined his composting method as follows:
If you aim to live as sustainably as possible and have chickens on your property, not all organic waste will go to the compost heap. At the top of the pecking order are chickens and ducks, who get most kitchen scraps and old, edible leaves out of the garden. This is supplemented with ‘fodder’ (sprouted sunflower and corn). Next are the red wigglers, who get what the chickens won’t eat. Paper, cardboard, any manure, greens and even fine wood chips.
Then ‘feed’ the compost trenches with all the things that the chickens, ducks and red wigglers won’t eat. As a general rule, add more greens than browns. Branches and logs can be used for structure.
In the language of permaculture, compost trenches ‘maximize function’. The many benefits include:
– Organic matter decays next to your veggies for immediate absorption of nutrients.
– New compost provides plant roots with aerated material.
– Sunken compost stays moist, and gets wet when you water your vegetables.
– Soil from trenches can be used in nurseries or new beds.
– Weeds, thorns and anything nasty can be buried at the bottom of the trenches.
– Trenches naturally function as pathways and can be spaced about a meter apart.
– Every year or two, fences can be moved over
the old trench and new trenches can be dug on
old, compacted soil.
Krag Lohry – Port Elizabeth