Nothing leaves my property that is likely to rot away.

With my 3 hard working chooks I have garbage processing covered. I call it back end composting.

What is not chooked-over, like bones is buried in holes and trenches about the place -- uslaly under stone ware dinner plates so the dogs can't dig them up..

My paths are highways layered with paper and cardboard and strewn with a carpet of brush cuttings and sometimes manure.

So I love trench composting. Any excuse to bury stuff.

Down at the chook pen, I've built a pen within a pen -- a three sided corral into which I throw the kitchen scraps. The chooks keenly work through this every day so that there is usually nothing left by teatime.

However as a rodent protection, i turn over the floor of the corral and bury what scarps may be left in situ. Later I harvest that corral dirt for garden use.

Ironically, any fly infestation feeds the system because the chooks love to dine on maggots.

But you need to feed 'em the scraps early in the day and make sure they are well worked over before any night time visitors arrive.

With 3 -- and soon to be 4 -- pens among my immediate neighbours we are sure to have rats. ... and the buggers eat my seedlings .

I keep a stainless steel kitchen pot on the bench in the kitchen. One with two handles and a secure heavy lid. Into this go all the kitchen scraps and all the waste fluid from washing and cooking veg and such.

Over the day is soaks and brews.

I take this pot outback and pour its contents through a strainer into my large ferment tank. The leftover solids go to the chooks.
Every so often I decant the tank's contents -- which I  inoculate with aloe vera fertilizer -- onto the garden.

The system seems to work.

You still need  grains/layer mash to feed the poultry, but I've found that grains are the primary rodent magnets so I watch to make sure all of the grains and seed is eaten.

With rats you should  get snakes, but my dogs seem to have spooked the serpents.That and my frequent hand watering.

So what we have here is no Garden of Eden.


Genesis 3:1-7

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" read more.
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

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  • I think the core principle is RECYCLING. In effect that means taking what you produce, harvest and  eat and giving it back to the soil.

    In urban climes, maybe adding general household sewerage isn't a good idea ...but everything else warrants to be short listed for a posting outback.

    Whether you play with it through some composting apparatus or not, isn't  really the issue.

    RETURNING it to the soil IS.

    Our collective problem is protecting out domestic milieus from  rats or flies or snakes or  nasty infections that can be carried by  the plants we grow and eat.

    Most forms of domestic composting is not going to do that nor are thy likely to kill off all weed seeds.

    So why bust a gut?

    If the stuff is out there let nature take its course without you getting a hernia.

    • Totally agree. Younger days I like probably everyone else, busted my gut to do this and that. Increasing decrepitude means I needed to find simpler ways to achieve the same goals. Getting nutrients into the soil without attracting vermin.

      • Of course, my problem is that I never got the maths. So much of this and so much of that. Stirred not shaken....

        I was reading composting books in the 70s and was totally bemused. it seemed so technical -- much more so than a cooking recipe. Different bins. Various DIYs.

        What we forget is that what we call 'composting' -- 'scientific composting' -- dates from the 1920s. That doesn't mean that farmers over the eons didn't recycle, or mix in manures and such -- but the effort was minimal and more akin to sponsoring rotting.

        In the mix I think we lost knowledge of a  basic principle which John Bellamy Foster calls 'metabolic rift'  (after Karl Marx developed  the concept from the work of agriculturalist & chemist Justus von Liebig in 1840).

        If it were practicable to collect, with the least loss, all the solid and fluid excrements of the inhabitants of the town, and return to each farmer the portion arising from produce originally supplied by him to the town, the productiveness of the land might be maintained almost unimpaired for ages to come, and the existing store of mineral elements in every fertile field would be amply sufficient for the wants of increasing populations.

        What happened instead  is that wars broke out in the late 19th century over isolated stocks of guano around the world, before the Haber Process grew out of munitions manufacturing during the First World War.

        I think metabolic rift rules our agricultural existence still. It is the very same process the underscores fossil fuel driven climate change and drives agriculture's contribution to global warming.

        Take. Take. Take. With no return.

        fl-fertilizer-consumption.gifSo taking up Liebeg's challenge -- ( nutrients) "amply sufficient for the wants of increasing populations" -- we didn't have a chance to find out as the corporatisation of agriculture came hand in glove with a savage nitrogen addiction which in most instances were imposed on rural populations.

        As Mike Davis points out in the shocking exposee -- Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Th...-- famine isn't a nutrient deficiency  but a meteorological/political one. So when we are told that 'Nitrogen' has saved the world maybe a few grains of salt are warranted before stuffing your mouth with human made N:P:K.

  • The advantage of trench composting to save effort is that if you plan it right you dig one long trench of whatever preferred depth and progressively throw in the scraps from one end, then cover  sections progressively with the soil from the levees.

    Just don't fall over any open hole!

    I have the school's worm farm over the hols  but they don't eat as much as my chooks.Other than the volume issue, I think compost worms are a great recycler and worm farm design is very good.

    Maybe I should look at bath tub worm farming?

    If I could scale up more -- as I hope to with the kids next year -- I'd be interested in how much garbage I could process through them.

  • We find it hard to compost now. Our main system is a type of hole in the ground with a lid on it and a separate one for our doggie doodles.  Rats are noticed now, so we cannot just throw it on the ground. The dogs and the python are both trying to keep the rats at bay.  Better to return food scraps to the ground than in a wheelie bin. 

    Hubbie tries to dig a hole every now and again but he has been advised not to lift anything over 5 kg now. We will have to try and make the garden as self maintaining as possible in the next few years.  Pity we cannot get some unemployed persons to earn some money, and do the things we no longer can like pulling weeds and tidying up etc.   A garden is such a nice peaceful place to sit in and enjoy nature and see things grow.

    Makes me think of that old paint motto "Keep on keeping on"

    • Sounds like you have in theory Christa a very large worm tower at work.Dont know how big your hole in the ground is or how deep but if a large steel or plastic garbage  bin could be placed a few 100 mm in the ground with its bottom cut out then you would not have to bend down as much .Simply take off the lid to feed your goodies  back into  the earth .

      • Darren, we tried to do something similar to that about 15 years ago, without adding the worms. When it came to moving the big pipes around, we could not dig them up.  One of them is still in the ground.  The problem with our system was, that we used it at ground level, not a raised bin on top. Sounds. like another good option. 

        The way Elaine has her bin with small holes drilled in bottom, we can then ask our giant son (when he visits) to move them further away from the house when they are full. Everyone should have a giant son.  

        • Lacking any son never mind a giant one ... I unload my bins before trying to move them. For we old boilers everything 'gets heavier' each year. I have to unload other stuff from the car boot - 15kgs of rock dust are much simpler scooped into buckets and moved that way than trying to do the whole lot at once. Don't get old ;-)

    • Is it practical for you to put the food scraps into a fallow garden? Especially the above-ground ones, less likelihood of rats and dogs getting at anything. Just keep filling up the fallow garden until it won't take any more, then plant a cover crop. Move onto the next fallow garden. I know a bit about digging among tree roots and clay soil ;-\

      • Elaine, digging is out for us, can't balance on one foot.  Do you mean if we get more wicking bins (which is what we are going to do soon) and place in the food scraps then sugar cane mulch and soil layer etc. till we fill the bin. Keep a soil top layer to plant cover crop.  Is that what you mean.  I thought fallow meant you leave the ground to rest. Sometimes I'm a bit of a dodo.  

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