Now the big thing to understand with plant nutrition is that much like us, all the nutrition required for healthy plant growth is available in nature. Nature has the pinnacle of recycling programs, just think of a forest floor constantly biodegrading nutrients ensuring that what is there today will be available for tomorrow. By composting we are reenacting this system on a small scale in a controlled situation. To me this is a much more favorable approach to soil and plant health. Synthetic fertilizers on the other hand have generally been extracted far away from the grow area, often in another country with limited workers rights or health and safety protocols. It has undergone processing, refinement, packaging, shipping, storage and the trip to the store to get it. While there is a time and a place for everything, I believe a limited reliance on unsustainable production and manufacturing is how we all need to move forward.
What is Composting ?
Effectively composting is a method for recycling nutrients through the soil and plants. We are speeding up the breakdown of elements from a stable source and ionizing them for later uptake by plant roots. It involves the layering of brown, carbon rich materials (dried leaves, straw, hay) with green, nitrogen rich materials (plant based kitchen scraps, pruned leaves).
Building a re-purposed compost bin
This compost bin was built using salvaged decking timber and stainless steel screws. The materials were sourced while I was working as a builders offsider during a deck refurbishment. I remember at the time my work mates shaking their heads at the guy taking ‘rubbish’ home probably thinking I was a hoarder or a tight arse, all I have to say in return is ‘waste not, want not’!
Electric Drill , Circular Saw, Hand Saw, Workers Horse, Clamps
8x Timber Lengths (2.4m L x 300mm H x 75mm W), 2x Untreated Pine (1.8m L x 75mm H x 35mm W), Screws
1) Secure the timber to the work horse using the clamps. Cut the timber using the circular saw to 1.2m.
2) Secure the pine to the work horse using the clamps. Cut the untreated pine using the circular saw to 0.9m.
3) Grab 2 lengths of 1.2m timber and make a right angle. Using the electric drill, insert screws 25mm from any edge ensuring the screw has bonded the two lengths together providing rigidity.
4) Place a length of 0.9m untreated pine into the corner of the right angle. Clamp it to ensure it stays in place during drilling. Using the electric drill insert screws and fasten into place.
5) Put together a second right angle using the steps above.
6) Screw the two right angles together to create a square base.
7) Screw untreated pine lengths into each corner.
8) Grab 3 lengths of 1.2m timber and make a U shape. Using the electric drill insert screws and fasten into place.
9) Repeat step 8 until the desired height of the compost pit has been reached (which will be the height of the untreated pine, so 0.9m).
10) Build up the walls of the compost bin by individually stacking the U shape structures on top of the base square and fastening them to the untreated pine.
11) Start layering your compost, I began with a layer of cardboard to mitigate grasses growing through the base and taking over the compost.
And there we have the base model of our compost, if you so desire you can build a roof and gate. I personally use an old piece of carpet lain over the top, it achieves the desired result, although I may build a gate and roof on the next rainy day to give an appealing aesthetic. If you have any design suggestions or compost at home, share your insights in the comments below!