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Graceville Community Garden
Graceville Community Garden
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Corner of Waratah Ave and Cordalba St, Graceville, Queensland, AU
07 3278 1829
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Compost production in high gear

Project: Graceville Community Garden

Posted by Tim Auld over 11 years ago

With our compost bay system built, I ran a workshop to teach the garden members the basics. It resulted in much greater participation and therefore production!

The soil we have to work with is very shallow and poor quality. During our annual review of direction the core group decided that soil improvement was our priority for the year. I had a soil test done at EAL in Lismore to discover what we were deficient in, what the organic matter levels and calcium to magnesium ratios were. We're aiming to get one done every 2 years to track our progress.

To improve the situation I have been driving our composting program. We had a set of 4 cubic meter hot composting bays built, with 3 holding bays on the other side. It is positioned so that you can conveniently back a ute in from the road to dump bulk materials.

For a while I was building the compost piles with a little help from others. I eventually ran an informal composting workshop for the other members. From then on most of the garden members were keen to help. Susan and John even volunteered to help me turn the piles during the week. I underestimated how successful it would be and how long the compost would take to mature, so we now have a storage issue! It's a good problem to have.

We're running at full tilt now. 3 bays are full with one empty to facilitate consecutive turning. There are 24" digital compost thermometers from Thermoworks so we can see when the heaps are out of the ideal 55-65 degrees Celcius range.

I've been adjusting our recipe because we were rapidly reaching 70+ degrees and parts of the heaps were turning anaerobic. I also started drilling holes through each pile with a crow bar to help oxygen get in and carbon dioxide to escape. we are adding lime and borax to correct the deficiencies identified in the soil test.

On Sunday we built a long term compost pile. With less nitrogen we should only have to turn it once or twice, then let it mature for a few months.

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