Ruud Kleinpaste: Compost tips

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Mar 2021, 11:42AM
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Ruud Kleinpaste: Compost tips

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sat, 6 Mar 2021, 11:42AM

Composting 

I have a new compost bin, designed and made in NZ by the Carbon Cycle people. Their idea is to make good-looking bins that are so elegant that you don’t need to “hide” your bin, somewhere in a dark corner of the garden. And that means you use it more and make it your pride and joy. I also reckon that if you have a good system and good set of bins, you can create enough carbon “credits” to allow you to fly the odd sectors on your favourite airline. 

Hedge stems and branches = Carbon        
Hedge leaves/foliage = Nitrogen 
Lawns/grass blades = Nitrogen 
Firewood and wood chips = Carbon 
Weed rough stems and hard roots = Carbon/foliage mostly  Nitrogen 
Sawdust from the odd DIY job = Carbon 
Twigs and branches = Carbon 
 
Carbon to Nitrogen ratio is crucial for good composting. Carbon to nitrogen should be about 30:1 in mass.
If you have far too much lawn clippings, your compost will get wet, dark green and slimy. Too much Carbon (and no Nitrogen), the woodchips/branches/twigs/stems will not break down 
 
I love the bins, simply for the brilliant biodiversity, especially invertebrates. These critters simply do not know the concept of “waste". They all have a job to do in the recycling process. 
 
Maggots (N)  Wood borers (C)  Slaters (C)  Millipedes (shredders of N)  Molluscs (N raspers)
Beetles (do all sorts of things – can even be predators and fungal consumers)
Springtails (run the finishing school of compost making – they prepare the friable black stuff) 
Earthworms (transporters of all the best organic matter down into the soil. 
 
But I am not someone who walks around with just invertebrate-eyes. Compost is also made by Bacteria and such small organisms 

And most of all: fungi! After all some fungi literally soften up all the hard ingredients (bark, timber, hard-wood, nuts etc) so it can be broken down by other organisms (often insects).
 
The number of species of fungi that can be involved is absolutely stunning. Inside a compost bin there are sooo many fungal species and each one does its job at the certain moment of compost developmen. This is why I always keep a good chunk of old compost in my bin when I start a new cycle: keep the spores in the system, together with things like insect eggs and pupae. 

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