This week I would like to talk to you about compost.
Why do we compost? We need to compost to ensure that the soil our vegetables are grown in is nutritionally complete. There is a lot of ill health caused by nutrient deficiencies in the world and this deficiency is implicated in metabolic syndrome which is a generic name for a lot of ill health which is in epidemic proportions in the world today such as obesity, diabetes etc.
New Zealand soils are deficient to start with in some minerals such as magnesium, selenium, boron, zinc etc. We then have our conventionally grown, New Zealand vegetables …… grown with only three nutrients called N.P.K – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Yes these elements are essential growth but by no means complete in nutrients to fuel our bodies, which all up means that our vegetables are nutritionally poor. We therefore we have to look carefully at the compost we produce for our home garden to ensure that our soils are nutritionally rich.
We need to think of the materials that we add to the compost in terms of a multitude of colours and textures as we already think of in terms of our gut health – the same applies to our soils.
We have the carbon nitrogen cycle which has a ratio of 70 carbon to 30 nitrogen to make a complete compost. Carbon is dry materials such as paper, wood chips, cardboard etc. Nitrogen is wetter materials such as vegetable peelings, apple cores, coffee grounds, left over dinners etc.
In my experience most people do not add enough carbonaceous materials to their compost and these materials provide the grow power for the vegetables.
I would suggest every time you add produce to your compost you add a layer of carbonaceous material such as paper.
I would urge you to consider only adding organic waste to your compost if you are growing your own garden part of the reason you are doing this would be to reduce you and your family’s toxic load to your bodies. This means that by adding cow, horse or zoo manure would increase the toxic load because each of these animals are regularly wormed and given antibiotics.
Composting does not need to take a lot of time or energy so more on the composting systems next week.
This week plant capsicums and continue to plant summer seeds.
I had a question this week about growing kumara. Kumara is grown not from the kumara but from the cut off shoots that sprout on the kumara. Unlike potatoes kumara grow down. They need friable(loose and aerated) and sandy soils with a hard pan underneath the soil. This means they need a solid base otherwise they will not bulb up. Kumara shoots can be grown in November and take six to seven months to grow.
While they are growing, however you can eat the succulent shoots for salad or cook like a spinach – they are very yummy!
As always if you have any questions then post them to facebook or on the blog.
Thanks and happy planting