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True Love is a Pile of Compost

The first compost pile of the season, made by my partner Lewie, who is usually totally uninterested in anything  gardening except eating the result! (Or photographing it – he’s the one responsible for most of the gorgeous photos on this blog).

I usually make several compost piles through the summer, when ingredients are most available and they mature fastest.  But this year I am in the midst (nearing the end actually) of one of my occasional regular perfect storms where I rush from one thing to another with compulsive lists.  My garden is still feeding us well despite being sadly neglected – I wrote about what makes a Garden With Stamina last time this happened – but I have been so regretting not having a compost pile on the go.  All my gardening fantasies have been screeching to a halt with the realisation that the bottleneck will be compost, or the lack of it.  And now I will have a great big pile of it!

The main ingredient (and inspiration) in this pile is mowings from an overgrown lawn.  Short green lawn clippings don’t make good compost on their own.  The ratios of air, moisture, nitrogen and carbon are all wrong – they are too wet, mat down too tight excluding air, and they have too much nitrogen.  But lawn clippings from an overgrown lawn, specially with fallen leaves from angophera or any non-eucalypt picked up along with the grass and weeds, makes great compost. And wet summers like this are a great way to get overgrown lawns.  The bright side of  me being too busy to mow for weeks is perfect compost mulch!

I feel guilty driving anywhere solo, which I’ve been solving by car pooling, and, whenever it is my turn, bringing home bags of horse manure from a kids’ roadside stall I pass on my way home from work.  It is too early in the summer yet for azolla but horse manure has enough nitrogen to start the compost bacteria breeding and make a good hot compost.

It’s one of those jobs that only takes a few hours when you  know where to get enough ingredients all at once, and the result will keep me in supplies for potting on and planting out seedlings all summer. The hardest part is knowing where all the ingredients are easily available, so the real “work” in making compost is tuning your perception so you see them.

True love is a pile of compost.

A Quick Guide to Breeding Compost Bacteria


{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Alex.s December 8, 2010, 11:59 pm

    Hi Linda. Sorry to post this here but I can’t find a better way to contact you about a particular question. I am starting a mandala style garden in Brisbane and was wondering if you think the fruiting times given for the trees you use in your sequence would also be applicable in Brisbane, what do you think? Your blog is marvelous, and so is your book, thank you for getting me interested in permaculture!

  • Linda December 9, 2010, 9:06 am

    Hi Alex, My climate i pretty similar to Brisbane, so I think it will be in the same zone, but every variety of fruit tree fruits at slightly different times. I get fruit trees from Daley’s, and good advice from them about harvest times for varieties. http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/fruit%20pages/feature1.htm. Local knowledge is the only way to really find out though.

  • nadeeka December 12, 2010, 7:45 am

    Our true love has turned turned the small patch of land fill into food production all within one year! It didn’t used to have any worms – now they come in sizes I never thought possible!
    We turn each and every lawn mowing into a compost pile – with the help of the brown material that accumulates in the chook area. Through winter of course this process slows down. One day, I hope our garden will have built up enough stamina to withstand a bit of neglect, like yours, Linda.
    (Still struggling with the worm farm though 🙁

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