Compots in winter

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my food scraps disappear inside the Compot. I always expect to find my pots still full of scraps but I’m always pleasantly surprised to find them half empty or almost completely empty.

Everyone no doubt has varying results depending on what they put in their pots, how often they fill them and whether they are relying on just worms to decompose the food or soldier flies.

If you are just relying on worms then you have probably worked out it can be better to selectively feed them. Much like you would in a worm farm. I personally don’t have time for this so just toss everything in together. The worms will eventually eat the waste after it has decomposed sufficiently for them to digest it. After all – worms don’t eat waste. They eat decomposed waste.

Speaking of worms… winter is upon us (though one would hardly know with the warm weather we have been having in Brisbane – til this week brrrrrr) your Compots will start to slow down as the soldier flies disappear and the worms and bacteria take over. Everything will still disappear but at a slower rate. Come spring and summer your Compots will bounce back into action when the soldier flies reappear.
You may find your pots will fill up with soil quicker over winter and may need some emptying. This will of course, vary with every Compot. I personally have not had to empty the Compot unless I have left it for a period of time without topping it up.

To help speed up your Compot over winter you can:

1. Add Banana skins, apple cores, or pork and apple sauce. These items contain enzymes that assist the decomposition process.

2. Comfrey is said to be a compost activator as it breaks down very quickly releasing bacteria and nitrogen into the soil. It is generally used in open air compost piles to activate the heap and can be spread around certain plants as a source of potassium.

3. Or you can collect your scraps in a pot on your kitchen bench, and ADD waste water to your scraps when you rinse out an empty milk bottle or jam jar etc that is destined for the recycle bin.   The scraps soaking in the waste water will soften and begin the decomposition process even before you fill your Pot.

It also mingles and dilutes all the odours and makes a weak nutrient solution for watering your plants before you toss your waste in your pots. This will deter dogs if you leave your scraps soak for a few days so they ferment.  That along with all the smells mingling together seems to keeps the dogs away.   And it appears to deter other wild critters like antechinus and bush turkeys along with the rats, and possibly many more critters that you not get in a suburban garden.

In addition to this, you are saving some water from going down the drain. Of course, you don’t have to do this.  It is entirely up to you, but I find it makes a big difference to the decomposition process in the Compot.

4. Alternately you can add a dash of Soil Conditioner to start the bacterial process as it is full of beneficial bacteria.
And if you need to attract more worms add some Vegemite, honey, cat food or chicken pellets. I just rinse out an empty honey or Vegemite jar and add it to my scraps as waste. Or you can just mix them together with water and pour around your garden.

Today’s Did You Know…?

Legumes (plants that are in the Pea family eg. clover, pea, Siratro, etc) have special Bacteria growing in and on their roots.   They are known as Rhizobium and are specific to a particular legume.   That is, one particular Rhizobia works with one particular legume, and is not much use on any other plant, even other legumes.

This behaviour is a win/win for both the legume and the Bacteria in that the bacteria invades the legumes root hairs and feeds on the cells taking out the sugars to feed itself.   BUT it also puts back into the legume root some Nitrogen that the Rhizobium has taken from air in the soil, thereby reducing the amount of Nitrogen the legume requires to be added as fertilizer.   Due to the irritation by the Rhizobia the root forms a nodule on it. The nodule is usually pink indicating it is actively working.

Note: Not all nodules are caused by Rhizobia but can also be caused by the irritation of Nematodes (commonly called eel worms).   This is common on Tomato roots and these are NOT good as they reduce the ability of that root to take up nutrients for the rest of the plant.   These plants need to be removed so the Nematodes do not remain in the soil ready to invade other plants