Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chapter 6: Compost and our Garden Challenge

 Chapter 6: Compost and our Garden Challenge

To our dear three faithful followers, a special warm welcome for you guys. We have something exciting in stall in this chapter, tonight we are unveiling our super blog challenge countdown.

The Funky Frontyard famers Challenge Begins

As you know we have a vegie garden in our front yard. In it we grow plenty of different things, but it has up until now remained more of a hobby than anything else. Would it be possible, from a regular sized suburban block, to grow enough food to sustain a family, for a week, a month, or even permanently? We aim to find out!

Over the coming year, we are going to prepare to withgo our food grocery shop for at least a week, and hopefully longer, with enough food produced from our front yard without eating the chickens by day four, or inviting ourselves over for BBQ's at our friends homes at short notice.

We aim to start the challenge on the 11th Januray next year to give ourselves time to prepare and we will fill you in along the way. This shall now and forever more be known as the Funky Frontyard Farming Challenge (our faithful three followers may refer to this as the F.F.F.C.). pronounced "fffffffffffffffffffffk".

That said, there are a few things that we have decided we can't live without! Coffee, milk, olive oil and flour will remian on our Aldi's shopping list. All the other food items will have to come out of the ground or a chook!
In the meantime, we will do some research on how to preserve and store certain vegetables and fruits, and prepare a seasonal guide to determine what to grow when, as well as recipes based on home grown produce, including mulberry wine, and home brewed beer. It should be very exciting!
Joe is even thinking of farming fish, but more on that later. But most exciting of all, we will host a garden dinner party to end our challenge, and if your good, you might get invited.

Now! compose yourself for compost...

Composting is an easy process to start in your backyard and has many benefits for you and the garden. The basic concept is that organic matter, like leaf litter, grass clippings and fruit and vegetable scraps can all be turned into lovely rich soil for your garden.

Building your compost bin:

If you are in a hurry you could go and buy one from Bunnings but in our opinion they're not super and you can make a great one for alot less using wood, bricks or even chicken wire. whatever you choose to make it from the main thing is that your compost bin is about the diameter of a cubic meter. It needs to be this big to develop the heat that allows microbes to break the organic matter down. If you don't have this type of space available, look into worm farms which you can also buy, they can be used to break down your kitchen scraps in a much more compact way.

Here is our compost bin, once again made out of some old wooden palettes and chicken wire. As you can see it is split in two, we did this so that we can allow one side to break down whilst we fill the other.

It is important to keep your compost heap well airated. This is why we have used chicken wire on the sides. Oxygen allows microbes to be productive and without it your compost will smell and rot which won't be any good for use on the garden. We give our compost a turn with the pitch fork every week or so to help airate the heat.

Compost also needs to remain moist but not wet. In the hotter months sometimes you may need to water your compost heap to keep it moist.

What to put in your compost bin:

A good compost heap will have a variety of organic matter. Generally speaking a mixture of green/moist matter (such as kitchen scraps, freshly cut grass) and dry organic matter (leaf litter, or even shredded newspaper and cardboard) will make the best compost. If the compost heap is too wet add more dry matter, if it is too dry add more green matter.
We put in things like : coffee grains, tea bags, egg shells, all fruit and vege scraps, lawn clippings, leaf litter and shredded newspaper, chook, horse and cow manure...its all good stuff. Don't put in meat, too much citrus, dairy products or meat-eating animal poo.

We simply have a small benchtop bin in the kitchen for all our composting scraps. It is amazing how much less rubbish we put in our wheelie bins these days.

It will take around 6 to 8 weeks for a compost heap to break down and be ready for use on the garden, during the winter it may take longer. You will know it is ready when it is a dark, rich brown and crumbly matter, just like good soil should be. Now it is ready for the garden.

How to use your lovely compost:

Compost can either be dug into the garden to produce super sized vegies and fruit or you can put it in a porous bag (like a hessian bag) and soak it in a barrel of water to make a compost tea. After about 2 weeks the tea can be put in a watering can and used to water your favourite fruit and vege for that extra kick once a week or so. We just dug some compost in to our zucchini bed as they were a little worse for wear and they have come back with a vengeance.

As you can see our zucchinis are enormous but warning : sustained composting can cause 'lazy eye' and other abnormalities... i still love him though...

Next week, home brew, homemade wine, and growing your own spuds in a bag. Happy Saint Pat's day everyone, to be sure to be sure.


  1. Lordy,.. i so look forward to your organic blurps!! And I'm so glad i'm one of your numerous fans as i can attach cheeky messages of encouragement!! (I'm sure your other silent followers were sceptical like me, about opening new accounts in this cyber hubbub.. gawd, ya can't do anything these days without having to invent a password you'll forget minutes later!) Anyway, I LOVE your challenge!! I demand your ALDI receipts be published! With that wide selection of crap available, somethings bound to take the eye, or both.. (On which, the photos of you two made me giggle, heartily..) Does this mean you are going mostly VEGIE?? 'cept the chickens and foetuses?? FANTASTIC, I so look forward to the stories to come!!! If you can do it, surely we can all do it.. (If you do my garden next!) Gorgeous gardening tips, lovin it all, keep on blogardenin' lovelies!! xxxx

  2. Manu, you have just graduated to follower of the week! congratulations, you are on our dinner party list! You will also recieve a complimentary packet of seeds for the vege garden.You would have also won a fabulous outing with stella our prized hen, but she died suddenly some months ago... we still write about her as if she were still with us.


  3. Okay, okay okay- so I know you're secretly bitter that your sister hadn't joined as a follower before 5 minutes ago- but I didn't know how, I didnt even know it was possible, and since joining I have successfully invited a friend- Alice, so I think I deserve follower of the week award this week.

    Can I suggest adding toilet paper to your "must have" Aldi list, and definietly leave off exercise bikes, electrical appliances and anything in the locked glass cabinet near the counter :)

    Loved ready the blog and look forward to faithfully following from here on xox

  4. Absolutely soaking up your gardening tips! Loving the organic ideas... this will be my gardening bible from here on in. You know you may soon need to add a weekly section where you let us all ask you gardening questions and you dish out the wisdom...