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Julia's Compost Shop

FAQ


About Composting - FAQ
What do I put into my compost bin to get good compost?
What should I avoid putting in my compost?
How do I start my compost bin?
Where do I place my compost bin?
My compost attracts rodents and other animals. What can I do?
How do I measure the moisture in my pile?
My compost pile is not turning into compost. What shall I do?

Looking after your worms - FAQ
What can I put into my worm farm?
What should I not put into my worm farm?
How often shall I feed my worms?
What shall I do with my worm farm when I go on holiday?
Can my worms eat lawn clippings and prunings?
Where shall I best place my worm farm?
How many worms do I need to start with?
What shall I do if my worm farm is to dry or to wet?
How can I best avoid any unwelcome visitors such as mice and rats?

 



What is Bokashi - FAQ
How much Zing do I use when filling up my Bokashi bin?
How long will one bag of Zing last?
I’m by myself and it will take a long time for me to fill the bucket. Will that work?
Where is the best place to put my bucket?
What is the main difference between traditional composting and the Bokashi system?
How do I know the fermenting process is working properly?
How often to I collect the juice and what shall I do with it?
How long can I leave the food in the bucket before I have to bury it outside?
What do I do with the fermented waste?

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About Composting - FAQ



What do I put into my compost bin to get good compost?

The key to making great compost is getting the right mix of brown and green ingredients. Brown ingredients are leaves, hay, straw and paper, and green materials such as grass clippings, fresh manure, vegetable trimmings and most green plant cuttings.

Brown material:

• Leaves
• Hay & Straw
• Paper & Cardboard
• Woody Prunings - ideally no thicker than 5mm
• Eggshells
• Tea Bags
• Corn Cobs
• Sawdust

Green material:

• Vegetables & Fruit
• Grass Clippings
• Fresh Manure
• Coffee Grounds
• Young Hedge Trimmings
• Seaweed
• Feathers
• Plant cuttings
• Hair

What should I avoid putting in my compost?

• Meat & Bones
• Poultry & Fish
• Fatty Food Waste
• Whole Eggs
• Dairy Products
• Human & Pet Faeces
• Pernicious Weeds
• Pressure Treated Wood

How do I start my compost bin?

• Firstly decide on which compost bin to purchase or if you want to build your own. Then choose a suitable place outside.
• Start with a 4 inch layer of brush, twigs, hay or straw at the bottom of the bin. Then add a 4 inch layer of brown material, then a thin layer of finished compost or good garden soil. That's one layer.
• Then add a 4 inch layer of green material topped with a thin layer of compost or soil. Moisten each layer by misting it lightly with a garden hose. Keep adding materials in alternating layers of greens and browns until the bin is full.
• Once you have a full bin you can turn the pile every 14 days or so. The more you turn the pile the faster you will have finished compost!

Where do I place my compost bin?

Choose a site that is level and well drained that is easily accessible year round. Place the bin over bare soil rather than concrete or paving to ensure that worms and other beneficial organisms can make their way into the pile. don't worry about removing the grass if you site it on a lawn area as the grass will break down and become food. A sunny place will produce compost faster than a shady place.

My compost attracts rodents and other animals. What can I do?

Try to ensure there is always a lid on the system.

How do I measure the moisture in my pile?

Take a handful of compost from the centre of your pile and squeeze it in your hand:
• If you can squeeze water out of it, the compost is too wet
• If the compost does not release water but crumbles apart when released, it's too dry
• If the compost does not release water but stays compacted, it's just right

My compost pile is not turning into compost. What shall I do?

There could be 4 reasons for this:
• If your pile is to dry -add water using a watering can with spray fitting.
• It may be too wet, if so, it is also likely to be a bit smelly. Try adding some absorbant material like torn up cardboard, dry leaves or untreated sawdust or shavings. This will also create air pockets which will help dry it out a little,
• Incorrect Mixture of Materials: Make sure that you have the correct mixture of green and brown material so that your compost pile will really heat up.
• Your pile might be in need of air. Many of the organisms that break down your compost pile need air to live. Turning the pile more often will keep them happy.

Don't be hard on yourself if the pile does not heat up, all material will decompose over time, heat just speeds up the process and can help kill pathogens and weed seeds.

It is sometime difficult to keep enough material on hand to create a compost pile in one go, so if material is added  over time it will just break down 'cold'. You should still get compost that will be of benefit to your garden.

Looking after your Worms- FAQ



What can I put into my worm farm?

Worms eat any organic matter that comes from your kitchen, garden or barn. This includes:

Fruit & vegetable scraps, peels & pulps, garden waste, tea bags, coffee grounds, paper (ideally shredded), cardboard, egg cartons, seeds, rags made of pure cotton, linen, or jute, manure.

Egg shells are more beneficial if you can add them as a finely gound powder, this will make the calcium more available to the worms.  To do this, rinse them and allow to dry really well, either by leaving them in the sun or pop them in the oven on a tray after you have finished cooking and let them dry in the residual heat.  Then, when you have gathered a pile of them, simply bash them with something solid. I have used a flat stone or the top of a lump hammer, or use a morter and pestle. The easiest way is to put them in a blender, highly recommend a magic bullet as the way it is designed means it is easy to brush out all the fine particles from the blades.  Sprinkle a handful of the crushed shellover the surface of the feeding area every couple of weeks. 


What should I not put into my worm farm?

Here are the few things you should not feed your worms:

Onions, citrus, dairy, meat, oily substances such as margarine, butter, oil etc., no spicy food and peppers, any non-organic matters such as plastic, rubber, elastic etc. or any faeces of animals that eat meat. Beware also of pineapple and paw paw as these contains digesting enzymes that will harm your worms.



How often shall I feed my worms?

 This depends on how active your worms are and the population.  The best way to find this out is by observation, 
Remember that the food has to be partially decomposed before the worms can 'eat' it, so hard things like brocolli stalks will take a long time to disappear.  You will notice lots of little white crawling creatures (about 1mm long) all over the food, these are springtails and are great worm helpers as they start the decomposition process. 


What shall I do with my worm farm when I go on holiday?

You can leave your farm for 3-4 weeks as long as you provide a good amount of food before you leave. A chopped up pumpkin would keep them happy for quite a few weeks.  Make sure the worm farm is in a cool place and try to leave a dampened cover over the food, an old sack, a soaked newspaper, cardboard or piece of jute backed natural fibre carpet will all work well. 

Can my worms eat lawn clippings and prunings?

 Worms don't have teeth so they like soft (sludgy) organic matter so prunings would not be suitable.

A handful of lawn clippings sprinkled over the food would be ok, but generally lawn clippings are better used in a compost bin system, they can generate a lot of heat if they are not mixed with coarse material.


Where shall I best place my worm farm?

Ideal places are garages, porches, your car port or any other sheltered place out of the direct sunlight. A bit of morning sun is preferable to mid afternoon sun.

How many worms do I need to start with?

About 250g would be the minimum, if conditions are right they will happily breed and multiply quite quickly. Generally, if they are happy and the conditions are right, you will have a really good population after a couple of months after starting with 250g of worms.  The population will self regulate.

What shall I do if my worm farm is to dry or to wet?

• If your farm is too dry your worms can die as hey need some moisture. Add some water to the farm and make sure the food covering layer is moist all the time.
• If your farm is to wet your worms may not be getting enough air to breathe. Mix in some torn up cardboard or egg cartons to help soak up the excess and irt will also introduce some air. The worms will also feed on these materials.

How can I best avoid any unwelcome visitors such as mice and rats. ?


• Always try to keep the lid on tightly, vermin are a nuisance but they won't eat the worms and if you are checking the worm farm regularly, they are not likely to hang around to breed

When can I harvest the vermicompost?

Usually it takes a few months for the vermicompost to build up. Always remove a small amount at a time and work your way from one side of the bin to the next.  If it is very wet, it may be a bit smelly, but not despair, it is still packed full of nutrients. Allow it to dry on some newspaper in an old washing up bowl, or similar, and you will find after a day or so it should be crumbly, do sift through and remove any worms and eggs and return these to your bin.  A very simple way of screening the compost is to take a handfull or two and use a seed raising tray, the ones with the criss cross base have holes that are just the right size to sift out the finer material and any coarser bits can be returned to the worm farm.  You cna use the compost as a soil/potting compost amendment, add some to water to create a liquid feed or use as a top dressing for container plants. 

What is Bokashi - FAQ



How much Zing do I use when filling up my Bokashi bin?

As a general rule, we suggest you fill a 2l ice cream container with food scraps and then empty it into the Bokashi bin. Use 1-2 table spoons of Zing for each 2l container.

How long will one bag of Zing last?

One bag should last the average NZ family 2-3 months.

I’m by myself and it will take a long time for me to fill the bucket. Will that work?

You can take as long you need to fill the bucket. As long as you press the scraps down each time you add more scraps and close the lid airtight, you can take as long as you like to fill the bucket.

Where is the best place to put my bucket?

The best place is in a warm place in the kitchen or in the hot water cupboard. Your scraps ferment faster in warmer temperatures. As there is no smell you can keep you bucket inside. If you choose to leave it outside, make sure it’s out of direct sunlight.

What is the main difference between traditional composting and the Bokashi system?

• Bokashi ferments food scraps, while traditional composting decays them. Once these food scraps have been fermented, they need to be dug into soil to finish the process and turn into compost.
• Bokashi composting needs half the time of traditional composting.
• There is no smell with Bokashi Composting.
• Bokashi bins can be kept inside and suit small households and apartment living.

How do I know the fermenting process is working properly?

• If your Bokashi bin is producing juice and there is sweet vinegar like smell and/or some white fungal growth appearing on your scraps, you know things are working well.
• In the absence of any of these signs, make sure you have used the correct foods, the bucket is in a warm spot (ideally 16-25C) and it is closed tightly.
• There will be more juice if you have fruits in your bucket than if you are fermenting foods such as bread.

How often to I collect the juice and what shall I do with it?

We recommend you collect the juice every 2-3 days and use it as soon as possible. You need to dilute it 1:10 and use as fertiliser inside or outside in your garden.

How long can I leave the food in the bucket before I have to bury it outside?

You can leave the food in the bucket as long as you need to as long you keep the lid tightly closed and you drain the juice every 2-3 days. The 14 day period is a minimum recommendation only.

What do I do with the fermented waste?

You need to bury it outside by digging a hole, adding the fermented waste and covering it with soil. It will then turn into compost in a very short time. Try to bury it deep enough so dogs won’t be able to smell the food and dig it up. (30cm deep)