Composting

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Dearest Sultana,

If there is one thing about gardening I really don’t like, it’s the creepy crawlies. I’m OK with lizards, in fact I think since we’ve moved here the skink population has flourished, we see them quite often in summer and they are generally shy and we don’t bother each other.

I’m also pretty OK with spiders, as long as their webs don’t overtake our living spaces, I leave them to themselves. However creepy crawlies, they really creep me out. Still I really liked the concept of composting, I knew it worked wonders in my parent’s garden and I like the idea of our kitchen scraps going to produce something useful instead of overfilling landfills.

I took a free course in composting with the Kaipatiki Project. I really didn’t like the idea of handling or looking at creepy crawlies every time I open that compost bin and decided that composting wasn’t for me. Fortunately we were also introduced to bokashi buckets and that seemed more handle-able so I got one of those. Didn’t really work for us though, I think I tried doing it for about half a dozen buckets but I just couldn’t stop the smell. I knew I was doing something wrong but couldn’t figure out what.

About half a year later I managed to talk myself into getting a compost bin, creepy crawlies and all. It wasn’t an easy decision but my family was complaining about the stench from the bokashi bucket and I was not exactly excited about opening that lid every time I put my food scraps into it. I didn’t want to go back to throwing my food scraps into the rubbish bin and I was getting more involved with my gardening and wanted the free rich compost for the garden.

So I set up my compost bin and we’re still using it today. There have been ups and downs. It has really taken some getting used to. Yes, there are creepy crawlies, millions of them. But they are happy to be left to do their own thing and don’t really hang around in the crumbly and rich compost layer. That layer is packed with earthworms, thankfully I am OK with earthworms (with gloves on).

I have also had the unfortunate encounter with a mouse! Oh, just the memory of it makes me shudder. I opened the lid and two beady eyes looked straight up at me. I guess it was winter and the poor mouse was cold and hungry. The next few nights I had nightmare of a family of mice taking over my bin, nesting inside and all the hundreds of mice that this family would produce. Courage! That’s what I needed. For the next few days I avoided that bin, in the end my husband gave the bin a bit of a shake about and there was no mouse and then we fortified the bins sides with big rocks and haven’t had anymore problems until last week, when I saw a mouse hole (but thankfully no mouse!) more fortification and so far no more sightings of the mouse.

So far I have only harvested the mature compost once. It was so satisfying digging in that rich compost into my husband’s priced feijoas. They won’t flower for a few more months but I see a lot of new growth and am very hopeful we will finally get some feijoas next season. Feijoas are the girls’ and husband’s favourite food. They usually have to rely on gifts from family and friends. Store bought feijoas don’t taste as good for some reason. My theory is that they don’t get cross pollinated with a range of different varieties, that’s why the taste is flat.

For those of you who haven’t encountered Feijoa before, it’s a guava like fruit originating from parts of South America but it’s very common in NZ.

I would highly recommend joining the composting course if you are an Aucklander, it is free, highly informative and I think at the moment they are offering free Bokashi buckets.

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