Members of the Gympie Municipal Horticultural Society watch the composting demonstration.
Members of the Gympie Municipal Horticultural Society watch the composting demonstration.

Compost is no load of rubbish

MEETING Tim Lang, of Dinner Garden, and learning how to improve soil quality with composting using permaculture practices was a highlight for members at the recent Gympie Municipal Horticulture Society meeting.

Tim visited member Gayle Robinson's residence at Curra to help get her vegetable garden ready, providing her with suggestions of where the best location would be, and what plants needed to be removed to avoid any competition from tree roots and shade.

There are other design elements that gardeners need to consider including having plenty of sun all year round, water requirements, wind conditions, slope of the land and close proximity to the house.

The next step is making garden beds that are no wider than a little over a metre, thus allowing easy access from both sides of the beds.

Tim said it was not a good idea to walk on the soil, as it got compacted, preventing air and water penetration.

He demonstrated how to make a no-dig compost heap by starting with a layer of carbon (corn stalks) which will help maintain air flow followed by a layer of nitrogen (lush green pigeon pea bush/weeds and cow manure) then another layer of carbon (mulched hay).

This method helps to preserve the soil as no digging takes place.

Other ingredients used were lemon grass, comfrey, lettuce, coriander, pumpkin vine, continental parsley, rock minerals and molasses.

Tim also suggested adding rats and chicken bones to the pile as well. He said "allow old compost to teach new compost what to do" by applying a small amount of dirt from his place at Cooran with lots of worms into the compost pile.

Gardeners are encouraged to add kitchen waste to their compost by turning them into useful resources rather than the average household throwing away 14.4kg per week to the dump.

Every layer needs to be watered in well before applying the next layer with the heap becoming a cubic metre of materials stacked in a loose pile roughly in the shape of a mountain looking like a lasagne.

If gardeners notice that their compost heap is smelly, this has resulted from distributing too much nitrogen.

So it is really important to get the right mixture of carbon and nitrogen with Tim aiming for 70% carbon and 30% nitrogen.

Within a couple of days this compost heap will be very hot with bacteria taking up residence and will being ready in about three months which will transform into dark, chocolately crumbly gold for gardens.

If you want to hurry up the process just turn the heap a couple of times by allowing it to heat up between turns and therefore should be ready within a month.

During the initial stages, Gayle forked out some money to get the vegetable garden ready, but despite this she will benefit greatly from Tim's demonstration of composting with her eventually achieving amazing results which equates to "healthy soil equals healthy plants equals healthy people".

Gympie Municipal Horticultural Society was happy to donate $400 towards Kilkivan Community Garden and Railway Markets Project Inc.

When project member Dulcie Hewitt found out she was over the moon and could not thank the society enough for the donation. She presented the society with a certificate of appreciation.

An enjoyable day is to be had next Wednesday, with us visiting Heaton's Nursery and Noela's garden with Polleys leaving Jaycee Way at 8am and returning by about 5pm.

If you haven't booked a seat please get in touch with Val Vidler on 5482 7146.