I originally shared this post on a blog that I keep for my family over at puravidaculture.com and I thought that it would be worth sharing here. I am surprised how confusing people make composting and how may excuses I hear on why they don’t do it. Rats, snakes, bugs, worms and the list goes on. I have had my share of compost disasters, but have learned that there are ways to avoid 90% of the problems. Composting needs to be looked at as process, and should be approached in steps.
Permaculture is an approach to designing your home and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies.
Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another. Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.
The intent is that, by training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society’s reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying Earth’s ecosystems.
While originating as an agro-ecological design theory, permaculture has developed a large international following. This “permaculture community” continues to expand on the original ideas, integrating a range of ideas of alternative culture, through a network of publications, permaculture gardens, intentional communities, training programs, and internet forums. In this way, permaculture has become a form of architecture of nature and ecology as well as an informal institution of alternative social ideals.
Permaculture is a design method based on ecological principles, founded in the ’80s in Australia by Bill Mollison and Dave Holmgren. The focus is on the creation of high quality, sustainable human habitats. It can be applied at many levels of scale, from garden and landscape design to site planning, the integration of agriculture and forestry and urban/rural design.
There are a number of different approaches to take when you are setting up a design for your own yard. Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature.
A central theme in permaculture is the design of ecological landscapes that produce food. Emphasis is placed on multi-use plants, cultural practices such as sheet mulching and trellising, and the integration of animals to recycle nutrients and graze weeds.
However, permaculture entails much more than just food production. Energy-efficient buildings, waste water treatment, recycling, and land stewardship in general are other important components of permaculture. More recently, permaculture has expanded its purview to include economic and social structures that support the evolution and development of more permanent communities, such as co-housing projects and eco-villages. As such, permaculture design concepts are applicable to urban as well as rural settings, and are appropriate for single households as well as whole farms and villages.
“Integrated farming” and “ecological engineering” are terms sometimes used to describe perma-culture, with “cultivated ecology” perhaps coming the closest. Though helpful, these terms alone do not capture the holistic nature of permaculture; thus, the following definitions are included here to provide additional insight.
What is growing organically? It depends upon who you talk to. The simple answer is, that organic gardeners only use animal or vegetable fertilizers rather than synthetics. It also means natural pest control devoid of industrial insecticides. In other words, using natural substances and beneficial insects to ward off pests. It is a philosophy that stresses increasing the natural health of the soil, choosing appropriate plants that are suited to your area, and working with nature to produce a healthy and productive garden.
Organic gardening differs from “conventional” gardening mainly in the areas of fertilization and pest control. The organic gardener prefers to use natural and organic materials and methods, and avoids using practices and synthetic chemicals that may be detrimental to his health or environment. In order to this much attention is put on the soil you use, to maximize the most nutrients getting to your plants from the soil alone. A major basis for organic gardening is the use of abundant quantities of organic material applied to the soil. Usually, it is in the form of animal manures, plant manures, cover crops, compost, or mixed organic fertilizer.
There are many benefits to Organic Gardening.
Saving money by growing your own vegetables, being able to eat healthier and feel better and preserving our environment from the harmful and toxic chemicals that seep no only into our vegetables but our soil, oceans and waterways not only harming our environment but wildlife as well. Beginning and maintaining an Organic Vegetable Garden is simple and easy with a little knowledge.
As we all know that many people are adopting organic gardening rather going for the traditional forms of gardening. Soil plays most important part in any form of gardening. If you are trying to grow your organic garden then you must use a soil which is rich in minerals and nutrients. Most of the soils are not rich in minerals and nutrients which are essential for healthy growth of the plants. For making your soil nutrients rich you can add compost to your soil. Addition of compost will provide your soil the necessary amount of organic matter and will make your soil rich in minerals and nutrients.
Compost contains sufficient amount of minerals and nutrients which can be readily absorbed by the plants. In this article I will discuss some important tips for creating and using organic gardening compost.
You can create your own organic gardening compost by using the left over food or you can purchase ready made compost from any local gardening store. If you are preparing the compost by yourself then you must add equal amounts of green (leaves) and soft materials to prepare an ideal blend. For further balancing your organic gardening compost mixture, add hard and brown material (chopped twigs, dead leaves).
Compost pile has to be 3 to 4 feet high. Make sure there is enough amount of air available for the aeration of the compost. You can use pitchfork or a large stick for aeration of soil. For larger compost piles you can use PVC pipes as most of the people have been successful with it.
One major advantage of preparing your own compost pile is that the high temperatures that will occur will help in elimination of the harmful diseases which are brought by pests or spores.
For making the decomposition process of your compost pile more efficient you can add more scraps from your home. This addition of scraps will provide more aeration to your compost pile. You can add several other things from your household such as peat moss, vegetable peels, seedless weeds and even fruit.
With the help of the above mentioned tips you can create your own organic gardening compost pile in no time. Although you can directly purchase ready made compost from the store but creating your own compost will be fun. Your scraps and left over food will be utilized in preparation of your organic compost. Well prepared and nutrient rich soil will assure you a healthy and beautiful organic garden in your near future.
Information and image Courtesy of gardeninggarden.com
So what, you may ask, is vermicomposting and how does it work?
Well, “vermi” is the Latin word for worm, and worms like to feed on slowly decomposing organic materials (e.g., vegetable scraps). The “end” product, called castings, is full of beneficial microbes and nutrients, and makes a great plant fertilizer. So, vermicomposting is the practice of using worms to make compost simply by feeding them your food waste.
The reason vermicomposting is becoming popular is because worms are very efficient eating machines. They eat over half their body weight in organic matter per day!
Things to keep in mind before starting your system.
Not all worms can be used for vermicomposting.
– No, soil and garden worms cannot be used for vermicomposting.
Not all worms are created equal.
– There are over 4,000 species of earthworms ranging in size from ½-inch to 22 feet
Only a few type of Earthworm species are used for vermicomposting.
– There are only four temperate and two tropical earthworm species used for
vermicomposting. One species, Eisenia fetida, is used by most people throughout the
world. Eisenia fetida is commonly called ‘red wiggler.’
The following video is a great system if you have room:
If you look online you will notice a bunch of different companies selling their own version of a worm bin, however If you look around your house you may be able to make one yourself for next to nothing.
To make your own home-scale vermicomposter you need a few things:
1.Two 10gallon Plastic Container bins (Dark Colors are better, Worms do not like the light)
2.A sharp object (knife or scissors or drill to poke holes)
3.A couple of bricks
5.Worms (Red Wingers)
6.Spray Water Bottle With Water in it
1.)First take one plastic container and set it aside. This will be your reservoir.
2.)Second take the other plastic container and poke holes on the bottom of the container. 1 hole every square inch should do.
3.)Next poke holes on the top piece of the container. 1 whole every square inch is fine.
4.)Place bricks inside the container with NO holes (Reservoir). Lay bricks on their side, this is to give the top container space to let the worm tea drip out.
5.)Place containers with holes on top of the bricks inside the Reservoir container (with no holes)
6.)Place bedding at bottom of container with holes( I used a cocoa mix, cardboard clipping work fine as well. Anything that will retain moister, try to avoid anything glossy)
7.)Spray bedding with water from water bottle so that it is damp but not drenched.
8.)Add Red Winger worms
9.)Add vegetable clippings, and shredded junk mail
10.)Spray with water bottle to make moist
9.)Place damp Newspaper on top to keep in moist.
10.)Put the lid with holes on top of the container. Place the lid with no holes on the bottom of your reservoir bin for a stand if you like.
If you get this far, keep adding your worm food daily and wait at least three months for your worms to their thing. One you get a good batch of Humus, let me know and I will tell you how to seperate the worms from the humus so that you can add it to your garden or turn some into worm tea.
How to make Worm Tea With your Worm Castings
The following information was provided by www.redwormcomposting.com
An application of compost tea will add life to your soil with beneficial micro organisms that will fight disease and pests, as well as, boost your plants growth. Active aeration prevents harmful anaerobic bacteria and other non-beneficial microbial activity. Applying compost tea within a few hours is best, after a few hours the brew begins to go anearobic.
Many assume that worm tea is simply made by collecting the liquid that drains out the bottom of a worm bin (if it has drainage, that is), but this isn’t really the case.In actuality that liquid is referred to as leachate, and definitely isn’t nearly as good as real worm compost tea. The problem with leachate is that it can contain all sorts of compounds produced in partially composted or anaerobic waste materials – some of these can actually be phytotoxic – that is to say they can harm or kill plants. If you dilute the leachate with aged water and aerate it for 24 hours or so, it should be fine.
To turn your Castings into worm tea you will need a few extra suppliers:
Here is a basic supply list:
-High quality vermicompost / worm castings
-Some type of permeable bag – the muslin bags used to hold soaps etc can work really well, but even panty hose would likely be a great choice.
-Aged water – if you are using tap water you should let it sit for a day or two so as to remove the chlorine. Preferably, use some rainwater or pond water if you have some on hand.
-A basic aquarium air pump and tubing – an airstone will help, but it’s not vital
**Optional** – a source of simple sugars – molasses works very well. This is used to help increase the population of beneficial microbes in the mixture. Some claim that it is not a good idea since it will also potentially increase pathogens, but the way I see it – there actually need to be pathogens in the material for this to happen! Yet another reason that really high quality compost should be used