What is composting and why do it?
Composting is the natural decomposition of organic matter. Microorganisms and macroorganisms break down organic materials into compost, a nutrient-rich soil amendment that improves the health and efficiency of your garden ecosystem from the ground up. It is a 100% natural fertilizer for your garden and it allows you to reduce your bio-waste and therefore reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.
How do I make compost?
For composting, four ingredients are required: GREENS (nitrogen) + BROWNS (carbon) + WATER (moisture) + AIR (oxygen).
Follow the rule of “mixing opposites” : the idea is to alternate between layers of “browns” (carbon-rich materials) and “greens” (nitrogens-rich materials). All these items need to be cut in small pieces to make it easier for micro-organisms (microscopic fungi and bacteria) to break it down.
– Carbon-rich materials (“browns”): paper towels, paper bags, cardboards, egg shells, egg cartons, brown leaves, wood chips, twigs, sawdust, shredded tree bark, spoiled hay/old straw.
– Nitrogens-rich materials (“greens”): fruits and vegetables scraps, grass clippings, tea leaves and bags, coffee grounds, cut flowers and plants, green leaves.
To make it even more effective, you can add few spoonfuls of compost accelerator/activator, which contains fungi and bacteria that are aimed at getting the decomposition process underway.
Does compost smell and attract rats?
For good compost to be rodent- and odor-free, it needs to be properly balanced and well-ventilated. To do so, follow the rule of “mixing opposites”. The idea is to alternate layers an inch or so thick of moist, nitrogenous matter with dry, carbon matter. All these items need to be cut finely to facilitate decomposition by the micro-organisms. To make it even more effective, you can add a few spoonfuls of compost activator.
The only minor “quibble” is you may find those tiny little fruit flies you sometimes come across when fruit has been left out too long. These little insects are very useful, but they can be got rid off by adding a small layer of dry matter (ideally, a little sawdust).
You can cover the composter with a small plank of wood but make sure it doesn’t dry out too much, as it needs at least a little moisture for the microbes to develop properly.
What can I compost and how should I use it when the planter is full?
Once your composter is completely full (how long it takes will depend on how many people you are and how much fruit and vegetables you consume), you can remove the compost at the top (waste that has not decomposed) in order to use the mature compost (humus) at the bottom, and then return the waste that needs to be composted. The recovered compost can then be mixed with soil or earth and spread out in your raised bed garden.
How can I speed up the compost I’m making?
To break down the bio-waste more quickly, you can add a few spoonfuls of compost activator, which contains fungi and bacteria. Remember, though, that micro-organisms tend to hibernate during the winter and only resume their activity when the days warm up and compost activator can do nothing to change that!
How should I use the compost when the compost basket is full?
Once your compost bin is completely full (how long it takes will depend on how many people you are and how much fruit and vegetables you consume), you can remove the compost at the top (waste that has not decomposed) in order to use the mature compost (humus) at the bottom, and then return the waste that needs to be composted. The recovered compost can then be mixed with soil and spread out in your raised garden bed.
Can I install a keyhole garden on a terrace? Does it need a wood or canvas base to protect the terrace?
You can install your keyhole garden on your terrace. Make sure you place a wood or geotextile felt as a base to protect your terrace.
If you have a wooden patio, terrace or balcony we recommend placing a waterproof material underneath your keyhole garden to protect it from humidity that can damage the wood.
How should I fill my Keyhole Garden?
For the filling of your keyhole garden, we recommend using the “lasagna technique” in permaculture.
1. You can start with a first layer of brown matter (like cardboard, wood chips, twigs, shredded tree bark, spoiled hay/old straw) which will allow to preserve moisture. The fungi present in the wood are very precious for the decomposition of organic matter.
2. Then, you fill the keyhole garden with successive layers of 1.5 to 2 inch (4 to 5 cm) of green matter (like grass clippings, green leaves, cut flowers and plants) and brown matter (like fallen leaves or shredded material). You can alternate these different layers until you reach 2/3 of the planter watering generously. Feel free to climb and jump on top of the pile to compact the whole.
3. Finally, finish filling your keyhole garden with potting soil. This last part is important if you do not have enough of the compostable elements mentioned above.
How much earth do I need to fill my Keyhole Garden?
- – Small: 160 gallons – 605 liters
- – Medium: 240 gallons – 908 liters
- – Large: 310 gallons – 1173 liters
Most important, don’t fill your planter with earth alone – remember to use the permaculture “lasagna” technique (see previous question).
I don’t have what I need available to use the “lasagna” technique to fill my raised bed garden.
Can I put worms in?
Worms can be used to work through the compost, but if so make sure that the Urban Planter-Composter is protected from direct sunlight and significant temperature changes or your worms will not survive.
What wood is used to make your products and do they need treating?
My terrace/balcony can get a bit windy, what are the risks?
Should I use a wood-stain treatment to protect the garden bed?
When should I apply the treatment ?
Wood is a living material that continues to evolve even after it is cut. If you find any cracks, don’t panic! This is completely normal: wood doesn’t dry evenly, and this can sometimes result in a few cracks. These cracks have no negative effect on the robustness or durability of your product.
To protect the wood from outdoor moisture, insects, and fungus, we strongly recommend applying a wood-stain treatment. It will also preserve the wood color of the raised bed garden.
Ideally, apply the treament before assembling the raised bed gardens for the first time.