I had a lively moment when a young lady referred a broccoli to a toilet brush. How true can it be – one man’s food is another’s poison! Well, I’m still proud to harvest broccolis from my backyard garden. That’s because initially the soil in my garden used to be clayey and water-logged, not fit for any plants. Now besides broccolis, yams and other vegetables, I have herbs like oregano, basil, peppermint and fruits such as custard apples, passion fruits, rambutans, papayas, guavas to name some. It’s a thriving garden. Luckily, I have friends and relatives who appreciate the wholesome goodness of broccolis and the other blessings from my garden.
How did I transform a barren land into a thriving garden? Green gold! The stuff most people refer to as kitchen waste. I have a bin in my kitchen to collect vegetable trimmings and scraps, fruits peels, coffee grounds, tea leaves, egg shells and other organic waste. Once filled, I’d add the contents to my compost pile.
I choose the most economic way to create my compost pile, that is, on open ground. First, I spread a layer of organic waste on the ground in the corner of my backyard. This is followed by a thin layer of soil. I continue to alternate as many layers between the two until I used up the organic waste. Adding the soil layers will help to speed up decomposition but you can use hay or straw or any dry organic matters. My organic waste also includes leaves, grass and flower clippings and other organic stuffs from the garden itself. Once the compost pile has reached the ideal size, which is generally a cubic yard (3 feet wide by 3 feet across by 3 feet high), I’d cover it with a vinyl sheet to prevent excessive drying by the sun or rain water from making the pile soggy. The pile is left to decompose. Every 4 weeks, the pile will be turned to mix-up the materials and help air circulation. The compost should be ready to use between 3 to 4 months depending on the speed of decomposition. The finished product should have lost much of the original identities and has a pleasant, earthy smell.
In a nutshell, making compost is simply alternating layers of dry and wet organic materials into a pile and allowing the stuff to decompose. A word of caution though, I prefer to bury organic materials such as fish guts, prawn shells or meat leftovers directly into the ground as they tend to attract rodents or your pets to the pile.
The layers can also be added as the organic materials become available, but you’ve to turn the pile each time you add new layers until your pile reaches the desire size. In this case, it’s advisable to have 2 compost piles, one that’s decomposing while another is being built up.
Once ready, I mix the compost into the soil before planting and also use it for mulching as the plants are growing to strengthen growth and control weeds. By constantly adding compost, my once barren land has turned into a little Garden of Eden.