Archive for the ‘compost’ Category

Deliberate decay, the case for composting.

A few days ago I stayed up late reading about the hysteria that has ensued from various stock markets shedding a few excess pounds.

As these piles of fictitious wealth rot before our eyes, and industrial society slides a little further towards the metaphorical compost heap,  I felt moved to write about the actual compost heap that sits in my garden.

It is perhaps rather glib to suggest that the art of composting is more important than the stock market, but my hunch is that in a hundred, or so, years time the stock market will be largely, or wholly, irrelevant to the vast majority of people, whereas deliberate composting is likely to become one of the most ubiquitous and important aspects of human behaviour.

In a world without sufficient oil to manufacture, and ship around the globe, the vast quantities of fertiliser required to feed seven, or eight, or nine billion people, finding other sources of nutrients will become of the utmost importance. To give some idea of the scale of the problem; demand for nitrogen fertiliser alone is projected to be 112.9 million tonnes in 2015.

Composting is essentially about pulling the natural nutrient cycle into a nice tight closed loop. Taking certain ‘waste’ products, encouraging them to decompose, and using the resultant humus to improve the soil used to grow veg. Eat, compost, grow, repeat.

At present there are two gaping holes in the nutrient cycle. The first escape route is that a staggering amount of biodegradable waste is sent to landfill. Landfill may as well be defined as: mixing valuable materials with toxic and other materials, and burying them, in order to generate potent greenhouse gasses and toxic leachate.

The second escape route is the hole at the bottom of the modern flushing toilet. We are taking valuable nutrients from our farmland (as veg) and literally sh*tting them down the drain after we have eaten them. It is possible to extract the (terrible euphemism alert) ‘bio solids‘ from mains sewage, but I believe that it is preferable in terms of quality and efficiency to compost much closer to source. In addition this avoids the water companies from profiting from our poos. For these reasons I think that many more will delve into the mucky world of humanure in the not too distant future. I have yet to get my head around this and am therefore focussing my efforts on the common or garden variety of composting.

I have attempted my own composting with varying degrees of success. My current garden heap has proved to small to make decent compost and is plagued by flies in the summer. I have tried various things to remedy this and my next post will be a summary of my efforts.

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