Tag Archives: compost

Farm journal: mushrooms, bacon & ladybirds

This last week at Milkwood Farm we’re kicking into the swing of Spring, and welcoming new crew to the Farm. There was a Mushroom Cultivation course held, and much home-cured, home grown, nitrate-free bacon consumed (I cannot tell you the ballpark of yum this equates to. Let’s just say alot).

The Cima di Rapa is growing great guns, though the peas are taking their sweet time. There’s ladybugs out in force, not nearly enough rain, and many bees a-buzzing. At night we dream of load-bearing strawbale reciprocating roof structures, and read about weeds. Continue reading

Vertigation: passive injection worm juice irrigation for the kitchen garden

Anyone with compost worms knows how valuable the worm juice from their wormfarm can be as part of veggie growing. The trick is remembering to add it, and having a good method of applying it.

Last year Nick devised a way to passively add worm juice into our kitchen garden irrigation supply, via a rather clever little DIY setup. Continue reading

On-Farm Composting: the story so far…

On-farm composting is a big part of our farm’s nutrient cycling, and an essential technique for ensuring nutrient density for our veggies and tree crops. Over the past couple of years we’ve tried and trialled various methods of hot-composting, with varied success.

As our composting needs have grown alongside our vegetable outputs, we’ve had to figure out how to scale-up our composting operations so that we can one day soon be self-sufficient in compost needs for Milkwood Farm. One hand-turned pile just doesn’t cut it any more! Continue reading

Humanure Artists with Grunt: Cloacina

Portland Composting System © Cloacina

As Nick found out when researching for his TEDx Canberra talk on how to save the world with humanure, it’s hard to find good pictures of poo. You may not believe it, but not many folks draw poo very well. Nor the nutrient cycles they interface with. Enter arts collective Cloacina!

Am I the only one who gets excited about beautiful posters of composting toilet systems? Surely not. But then, I get excited about any regenerative system that’s described really well in an evocative way. Particularly in a visual way. With watercolours.

Continue reading

Nick Ritar’s TEDx Canberra Talk: Two things you can do Every Day to save the world

Recently Nick gave a talk at TEDx Canberra. He talked about stewarding nutrients, how we can solve the problem of peak phosphorous, and about how to grow the best cumquats ever.

Yes, Nick was talking about why taking responsibility for our poo and our wee, our most basic waste streams, is so crucial to our future. For a long time, a mark of superiority in some cultures has been how far you can get your shit away from you. But now, we need it back. Continue reading

How to make Compost: Pt.3

And so here is the final product – three weeks on from the beginning, and 9 days on from the middle of the compost making process. Pretty impressive for three weeks worth of microbial action, don’t you rekon? Continue reading

How to make Compost: Pt.2

So – the compost pile is made…. fast forward to two weeks later… the compost is composting! Despite my well-intentioned but slightly incorrect assemblage (i really should have shredded all that glossy newsprint, or at least ripped it up into smaller pieces), my fast compost pile is hot-hot-hot! Maybe even a little too hot. Not to worry, I can cool it down by turning it more regularly. And we can only learn by doing, really… Continue reading

How to make Compost: Pt.1

Compost is so good, and so essential to the establishment of any system. Balcony garden, a big kitchen garden, or just the pot-plants. Surprisingly, despite being such a benchmark of any system that involved growing stuff, it can be quite daunting to make… even tho everything you need is already there, around you, begging to be transformed, with a bit of knowledge and elbow-grease, into kick-arse super-duper soil with added flavours…

I’ve been aware for years that to make really good compost, you need to get the right balance between materials so that you get a good ratio of carbon to nitrogen, or c:n ratio…. Why? Because it is these two elements which all the bacteria and fungi feed on in order to make your compost. Yes that’s right. Compost is a process of actively feeding a huge number of micro-organisims the right stuff in the right amounts, so that they munch and breed and munch some more, converting your pile of poo, paper, greenstuff, whatever into what we call compost. So really, it’s basic organic decomposition, accelerated by the right chemical balance so you don’t have to wait 2 years between having a pile of muck and something that can be a growing medium and general nutrient source for plants (and, therefore in turn, you). Continue reading


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