Springing Into Action: Waste Not, Want Not

There is never enough compost, there is never enough food you like, never enough hours in the day and never enough sun. In our recent Guardian article we looked at how we have become a society that wastes, that bemoans waste, then sits back and causes more waste. As we move into the second year of the Wartime Garden, we are discovering things we once found hard to do are starting to become easier. We could argue that we do what we are doing for sustainability, to be green, to make the planet a better place but to be honest it's more do do with thrift. It's more to do with common sense (you can find more common sense from our members on our Facebook Page). A basic premise is if you pollute where you grow, you pollute your food. If you shove chemical into your animals, you shove chemical into your stomach. If you waste food then it should have an afterlife beyond landfill. All our green and brown waste goes into a compost heap. So what is green and brown waste?

The beauty of making your own compost at home.

At Pig Row all our waste vegetables, lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves (and we have plenty of those in the Wartime Garden) and peelings from the kitchen, tea bags (torn open), tea leaves, coffee grounds, soft prunings, chicken manure, pig shit and cow muck, and their straw bedding goes into our heaps. We never have enough muck and we even collect chicken manure from our neighbour. Last week they went away for a fortnight and we were asked to keep care of their chickens, we jumped at the chance for the eggs and the muck. Two weeks of chicken manure will do wonders for a heap as will your urine. There is simply no need to buy compost bin activators, pee on the heap or if you want it to go further mix it 20:1 to water and add to the heap. That's your greens. Now to your browns. No, were not going to talk about composting toilets or night soil. There are some things our neighbours wouldn't tolerate. Brown is cardboard, toilet rolls, egg boxes, newspaper all torn up, hedge clippings, woody pieces of wood, sawdust, wood shavings and even fallen leaves (though we tend to make leafmould from that). 

Composting is easy and you don't have to make it back breaking.

We also use grass but we treat that differently, we leave it to dry and bag up. We'll come back to that. We add the grass to the green, making a 20-30cm layer, we then put in a 20-30cm layer of brown mixed with grass. As you can see we use the dalek composter and we leave, everytime we add a new layer as the heap sinks and rots, we use a fork aerate. This means we jab the fork in a wiggle until the compost fluffs up, we also use a spade to chop up any large pieces still in the compost. Then we leave, and leave some more and probably leave for a year and then crack open (see above), and use to top dress beds (see below). Don't confuse homemade compost with seed compost, they are two different things. Homemade compost improves fertility in your beds, means you don't have to dig so much. So spring is time to get into composting, waste not, want not.

Improving your soil.

Then there are ways to deal with perennial weeds that will make you smile.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog