Thursday, March 15, 2012

Colloidal compost

It's been a long hot summer as usual here, with 8 heat waves so far (3 days or more over 35 degrees C). This is the time of year we struggle most to keep the garden going and making compost goes on the back burner. It's much harder to get vegie scraps from the shops in summer since summer veg has less removed for sale. The other factor is the heat, we'd rather be at the beach than making compost in 35C. It also means that I tend to have less time and energy for feeding the fruit trees, so the compost tends to sit around for a while longer. With compost this is a good thing, since it breaks down further and matures. It cools down and worms, slaters, beetles and bacteria weave their magic. I make sure to water it every now and again and cover it up so it stays moist. My latest batch is about 6 months old now and it's a beauty. It is homogeneous, with "uniform particles and colour, and very few of the original ingredients discernible" (T. Marshall, Composting: "The ultimate organic guide to recycling your own garden").

It's alive, teaming with macro and micro fauna. There are probably billions in this one handfull!

Best of all it's colloidal. This "refers to its ability to hold water and nutrients. A colloid remains in suspension in water for a very long time, or indefinitely. For example, jelly crystals can absorb enormous quantities of water to form jelly, but it is not easy to squeeze water back out of them. Plant roots can extract water and nutrients from colloids" (T. Marshall). Perth's soils are amongst the worst agricultural soils in the whole world. They are gutless, with very few nutrients and very poor water holding properties. This is where compost comes in, the organic matter holds nutrients and water and makes them available to plants instead of washing away into our rivers. Colloidal compost is the best. This is the first time we've made it and we're pretty proud of it. See this post on how to make compost bays and compost yourself. And check out the crumb structure!

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