No Rules Composting!
Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
With regards ‘Rules’ l am a bit of a rebel with a cause in consideration to ‘without’ – with me there is always a cause, be it short and obvious or for the long game. Many of the things l do with my blog are long game with a cause. I am continually looking much further out of the box into the far reaching future and so that way l have a better idea of where something might be going.
But l have never liked Rules, l don’t even like the word – l tend to replace the word with ‘Guidelines’, ‘Suggestions’ or even just Requirements. But never just Rules. We see the word ‘Rules’ here a lot in WordPres when Awards or Games/Prompts are mentioned and l try to NEVER adhere to that word at all. Because many a time the word Rules is not the right word – it is just used as technically a ‘guiding line’ to understanding the requirements of whatever it is that apparently needs Rules to understand it in the first place!
However, as you become more experienced with certain things you realise that RULE is not the right word, whereas ‘GUIDELINE probably is and with regards Composting – ‘The Rules To’ are just that …guidelines, because eventually, you’re not going to follow the rules and you are going to start producing experiences of your own that basically suggests RULES don’t apply – but that comes with research, trial and error as well as many a time ‘hands on experience’.
Turn 3 April 5th 2017
I think at times we all tend to get caught up with the details of certain things and we start to unintentionally procrastinate on things we do, we are easily motivated by routines and then we forget to venture into new areas of discovery and potential discovery. The same applies to ‘composting’. “Well l have done it this way for years ….”, “That will never work, because the general rules to composting’ state that will not work! People keep saying that, and they will eventually start to believe it and routinalise it into their daily thinking.
Don’t misunderstand me here either, l am equally as guilty at times – but l try where l can to bend the Rules and not specifically break them, but bend the train of thought to allow for something new. I think that’s healthy and perhaps it is also to do with the fact that l am against uniformity and conformity and now prefer to look at a smidgen of can l get away with it controversy?
Turn 5 April 5th 2017
So for the first few years l followed the Rules to composting and adhered to the usual pattern of decomposition as is written and vlogged about quite considerably all over the Internet. If we take the image above that is a look at the compost heap as it was on April 5th 2017 just as it was going through the first of its twice monthly Dig Over. It contained a lot of vegetable and garden waste matter from 2016 when we had cleared the garden when we first arrived here to start renting and l started to religiously turn the pile from around December 2016. At that point l was using an awful bin system which simply proved to be ineffective for me and my needs to continually turn the heap to speed the process up.
When l started using the pallets for the first time in December 2017, l had already started ‘bending the rules’, however l was still adhering very closely to my green, brown and bracken ‘ruling’.
Turn 7 + Kitchen Waste added April 5th 2017
In the first ever heap, l included things that l didn’t know then would never break down easily – such as these ‘palm fronds’ above… from the Dig Over from February 2017 .. but something that my early uncomfortale composting system taught me was that whilst ‘for me’ the system was terrible and inefficient – the closeness and the turning did actually break down things quite speedily – here l watered the compost frequently… [one of the Rules for some compost heaps is to not have a totally wet pile.], l applied a more potent urine accelerator as in not 40% water but principally 10% water and l threw all sorts of things into the heap [within reason, not metal, plastic or wood – that’s still something you shouldn’t do!]
Original system as it was 7th November 2016. 4 plastic bins, with terrible access.
With this old system l had to literally turn the bins over to access the heaps within as there was no way l could constantly put the pitch fork in through either the bottom or the top.
But the content within the tighter closed space was already looking more like a useable product…
…. except of course for those fronds. I just figured they needed more space to break down…
… because that system at the time was just too small or they were too large?
But the problem was to me as a novice composter was that they came from the garden, so surely they must compost down?
We just have so many … even today is no different, these fronds need no encouragement to drop from the trees and they are so tough as a leaf. It would take me another season 2017/2018 to realise they were not going to break down. They weren’t the only culprits, there were tough branches and roots and so on, that WERE part of nature but a hot compost heap and being part of the process were just not successful enough to do the job. So by summer 2018, l started to take the fronds out and take them down to the tip.
But that doesn’t help the methane emissions for the planet does it? Nope! But this is part of the beautiful process of learning on the curve… the Rule here would be fronds don’t compost so don’t put into the heap and as the novice me would say, “I agree these are tough buggers, let’s not have them in this heap!”
But recently as l was going through the photos from 2016 when l first started to compost l came across the image below. Which is … when we first arrived here, l never thought of composting – never realised l would fall in love with the whole concept either. But at the back of the garden behind the sheds was the funny looking Dalek type compost bin in the above image and that was filled with this material – which had been placed in the bin by the renters before the renters [2009 – 2011] we were taking the rental from, non gardeners themselves. Out of this bin came the content below…
Compost from 2011? Mm, well l can see fronds in that heap as well, and l remember that they had just started to thin out as a result of the decomposition process in that tub for that length of time. I found out that the renters in 2011 had been keen gardeners and used horse manure a lot. After digging it a bit l placed the content into/onto the garden beds at the time.
It didn’t kill the plants … so old unturned compost isn’t that bad… but thinking back from then to where l was last week thinking about roots and holly leaves and fronds l got myself thinking and combined with the new 2020 no rules compost strategy l have in mind … l thought the time has come to bend the Rules a lot further with all the information l have gleaned with hands on turnings and dig overs of the heaps from 4 years.
This series ‘Season 3’ will be looking more closely at the things l have learned as well as a lot of trial by error experiments to further the learning curve and walk a little further along the path of finding, creating and producing a healthy compost soil filled with nutrients that we can all use for our gardens and vegetable patches, l am looking forward to it a lot and as you know, because l don’t say this a lot, but am quite excited about the prospects of new discoveries.
I think it’s going to be fun! Hope you join me too.
Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now
Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …