Little Black Duck Compost – Heap #1

IMG_20170923_130603I moved our compost bins onto the new garden a month or so ago. I’ve already relocated one further up the back to feed a few bananas.

The new garden is still in a very raw state but has room for me to do some hot composting. I have dabbled in this method before and like it enough to look at seriously adopting it as the main method of composting for Tillellan. Mainly because:

  • Its’ quick
  • I’m not locked into having an area reserved specifically for composting. Between the banana circle and the chook pen there are enough areas like this.
  • I can locate the compost close to where I am going to use it on completion.
  • It heats up and reduces weed seed germination.
  • Given the heating of the compost in the process I can utilise the heap to ‘burn up’ kikuyu grass that I’ve up-rooted from the garden from time to time, plus bulk green material.
  • It’s all done in less than twenty days

 I don’t mind the effort to turn the heaps every couple of days and I have plenty of bulk materials waiting to be utilised. Plus I have the space. So why not!

This particular recipe, despite featuring a heavy percentage of cow and horse manaure – I call it the little black duck compost because Friday while at the house talking to the builders we heard peeping sounds coming from the back yard. A mother Black Duck was up in the garden beds with 3 little ducklings at the base of the retaining wall. I put the ducklings up on the wall for them to re-group when one of our neighbours appeared in the garden with a dead duckling. Apparently they had wandered into her backyard and I’m guessing the dog got to one. She left the dead duckling near the garden so that at least the mother duck could see her duckling rather than keep looking for it and getting distressed. On Saturday I placed the little duckling into the compost heap where it will live again.

Here is a great link to the process.

27th Sept. 2017 – First turning of the pile after four days. Despite wet weather with occasional bouts of sunshine the pile had dropped down quite a bit. When I started turning it was hot to touch in towards the centre and steaming in the afternoon sun. A good indication that things are working nicely. The most noticeable thing was the smell. Even before in-wrapping the plastic I could smell a pleasant earthy, grassy smell. This disappeared once I started to mix the pile again, but another good indication that things are working.

29th Sept. 2017 – Second turning. Not as much heat as the first turn but certainly the beginning of grass and green matter decomposition. Various moulds present on the cardboard. No offensive smells.

2nd Oct. 2017 – Third turning. Gradual change. Should probably take a photo on the next turn as a record. It was turned in the morning and had a nice bit of heat radiating from it before I opened it up to turn. I don’t want to sound ridiculous but it already has a lovely, sweet, earthy perfume. Has anyone else experienced this?

8th Oct. 2017 – Fourth turning. Losing heat, but still warm to touch. Lovely, earthy scent. A picture is below. Some green matter still quite green so it was placed deeper into the pile.


13th Oct. 2017 – Fifth turning. Most heat lost. Unable to turn every second day due to work commitments so it has not fully broken down. I have piled it and wrapped it to let it break down further and will use it to create new garden beds. Good, but not good enough. A 5 out of 10.


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