SMART GARDENING

Smart gardening uses techniques that are beneficial to the environment and will also save you time and money.

  • Making and using compost in your garden
  • Planting native plants or ground cover
  • Using mulches and drought tolerant plant species
  • Replacing lawn with low ground cover or grass-cycling
  • Reusing rainwater and landscaping materials in the garden
  • Avoiding the use of harmful pest and weed control materials
  • Green purchasing for gardening requirements

This booklet will give you ideas for creating a beautiful, native garden that is easy to maintain for any size or type of section.

You can also use some of the techniques outlined here on your vegetable garden, fruit trees, exotic and ornamental gardens.

Garden bag and bin collections

There are many garden bag and bin collection services available to Auckland residents. Many accept invasive weeds as well as ordinary garden waste.

Check in the Yellow Pages under “Garden Bags and Bins” to find services in your area.

BOKASHI

What is Bokashi?
Bokashi was developed in Japan and literally means ‘fermented organic matter’.
A fermented wheat- bran mixture called Compost-Zing is used in a bucket system where food is literally pickled. The final product has a slight sweet/sour smell.

Click here for Bokashi Compost–Zing System stockists

        
Did you know that Bokashi juice reduces algal build-up in septic tanks.

For more information about Bokashi see their website: www.bokashi.co.nz

BOKASHIThe System
The Bokashi bucket system consists of a few simple elements. A two-bucket system with one nested on top of the other. The top bucket has a tight fitting lid and holes in its base to drain to the lower bucket. In addition there is a bag of Compost-Zing made from wheat-bran and untreated saw dust that has been mixed with molasses and water and Effective Micro-organisms. You can make your own system as long as it is air tight. Old Paint buckets Which have been cleaned out work. Drill holes in the base of the top bucket and sit inside the other one. A good seal is very important.

The benefits

  • The benefit of this system is that you can add products such as meat and fish, which are discouraged in the usual compost due to vermin & odours.
  • It produces a compost product within 2-4 weeks after being buried rather than 3 or more months in a compost pile.
  • No space is required as fermentation takes place in the bucket, which makes it ideal for small houses, apartments and schools.
  • Buckets can be kept indoors as the smell is inoffensive.
  • It keeps food waste out of the landfill and it is good for your plants adding beneficial vitamins to the soil.
BOKASHIFoods you can compost
All food waste which is well drained which includes:fresh fruit and vegetablesprepared foodscooked & uncooked meat and fishcheese and eggs, coffee grinds, tea bagswilted flowersDo not useliquids such as milk, orange juice and oilspaper and plastic wrap and meat bonesshells from seafood

WORM FARMING

        
Welcome to the worm farming section. Worm farming is fun, entertaining and informative.
IntroductionCompost can also be produced using worms. This is known as worm farming. It is also called ‘vermiculture’ or vermicomposting.
Usually tiger worms are used for worm farming in NZ, though red worms can also be used. Worm farming uses the same principles as composting, but it does not generate heat, making it cold composting. Value is added to the materials when they are eaten and excreted by the worms. This produces what is called vermicast and worm tea which have high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) compared to ordinary soil. This makes them valuable for your plants’ leaf growth, root and stem strength and flower and fruit set.
To find out your local suppliers of compost bins, worm farms, bokashi systems and garden waste disposal sites please contact your local council. See the Contact us section for links to Create your own Eden partner organisations.
The benefits
Casts and worm-tea are fantastic for plants (always dilute the worm-tea to the colour of weak tea – usually about 1:10).
If you have mostly kitchen waste, live in a home with little or no outdoor space, a worm farm is a good option.
Kids enjoy them.

Getting Started

  • Choose a site which is sheltered from sun, wind and rain. Carports or sheltered porches are ideal.
  • Use a layer of bedding first – eg, hay/ coconut fibre/ shredded cardboard/paper.
  • Bedding should be damp and porous.
  • Food can then be added. You can cover food scraps with damp newspaper or cardboard to limit flies and odour. Worms eat about their own weight every day: 250g of worms will eat about 250g of waste.
  • Worms need air but not light (worms are photophobic).

Keeping it going

  • Worms need a moist environment.
  • Check that their surroundings are damp, add water if needed.
  • Add dry leaves or torn up paper products if it is too wet – the working area should be as damp as a wrung out sponge.
  • Add food scraps regularly.
  • Smaller pieces (no larger than 2cm) will be eaten more quickly and prevent odours.
  • Worms cannot tolerate very hot or cold conditions (10-30° is ok).
  • Small flies or white worms/bugs indicate the worm farm has become too acidic and you should add a sprinkling of lime to neutralise pH.
  • Worms are omnivores and will eat almost anything, however there are some foods that are best left out of your bin.

The diet

What worms like

Most fruit and vege scraps, coffee grounds and teabags, aged horse manure, dirty paper, crushed eggshells, vacuum cleaner dust and hair.

What worms don’t like

Spicy food, chili, onion, garlic, meat and milk products, flour products, large amounts of cooked food, garden waste, shiny paper, citrus / very acidic food.

Harvesting your worm casts

  • After a few months or when a layer is full, you should harvest the casts.
  • Remove the top layer and take off the bottom layer. This bottom layer contains the casts. It is ready when few worms can be seen.
  • Remove worm tea from the bottom level. (When using, dilute to the colour of weak tea, usually about 1:10)
  • When one working layer is full, you can add another layer to your worm farm.
  • Place new layer on top of the old one and then add bedding (paper/ straw/ manure) and then add more food scraps.
  • Add food only to the new layer. The worms will migrate slowly to the food layer.
  • If you have large layers in your bin and you want to harvest casts earlier, you could add a layer of chicken wire instead of a new plastic layer.

Common worm farming problems

Problem – Cause – Solution

Fruit/ vinegar flies around farm or small white bugs and worms

  • Too acidic – Cover food with damp paper. Add lime to increase pH

Worms climbing up sides. Worms very fat and pale

  • Too wet – Add paper products and dry leaves, gently fork holes in the working layer

Ants

  • Too dry or acidic – Add water/lime. If your worm farm is on legs, place each leg in a container of water to stop such pests from getting in

Food rotting and not eaten

  • Too much food/ wrong food/ pieces too big – Add less food, break into small pieces

No worm-tea

  • Not enough water – Add water

Types of worm bins

There are different types of worm bins, but most have a number of layers. Note that it is easier to harvest worm casts from bins which have more shallow layers. The bins to the right are easily available.

Can-O-Worms

  • Add worms and food scraps to the first working tray (level 2), which includes a vented lid
  • Add more levels once the first working tray has filled with casts
  • Fly and pest proof, it stands on 5 legs
  • The tray system allows easy removal of worm casts without getting dirty hands
  • Liquid fertiliser can be removed from the collector tray by using the tap
  • Made from recycled plastic

Dimensions – Diameter 51cm and Height 74cm

Auckland Region Stockists

Worm bins

Worm bins can be purchased from your local garden or hardware store.

Worms

Kaipatiki Project 09 482 1172 (Auckland only)
Kiwi Earthworm Distributors (Matakana) – 0800 539 676
Natural Waste Solutions / WormsRus – 0508 967 677

Make your own worm binYou can easily make a worm bin out of large buckets, polystyrene trays or an old bath.If you use a bath, remove the plug. If you want to, you could build a frame to allow the bath to sit securely at waist height. Bricks, posts or blocks may be used for elevation, and for stability, ie, 100-150mm height (allowing room for the liquid collection container placed beneath plug outlet). The plug outlet end must be no less than a 5 degree fall to the lowest point to achieve adequate drainage. Roofing such as ply or corrugated iron will be needed to shed water and provide protection from summer sun.Place into the base of the bath 1.5m of 65mm perforated drainage pipe with two layers of old stockings. This seals the ends and covers the perforations which stops the pipe blocking. Add pumice sand or scoria to a depth of 75mm then place shade cloth, doubled over and cut to fit, on top of filtering layer.BeddingA free draining fibrous matured compost is ideal given that it is not going to produce heat. Dampened shredded corrugated cardboard and lunch paper gives increased air availability and reduces the risk of bedding material heating up. You need to water well and leave at least two days. Then check for temperatures over 25 degrees. If there are any unpleasant odours, apply two handfuls of garden lime and mix in. Avoid fresh lawn clippings. As fresh clippings heat up and cook the worms, only apply old lawn clippings.For quick results, 500g-1kg (2000-4000 worms) should be enough for your worm farm to cope with 400gms to 800gms of mixed food waste each day. This volume will increase as the worms multiply. Spread worms on to bedding and spread food scraps in one area rotate feed sites.As the bath fills use garden fork and loosen bedding, this increases air circulation and reduces bedding compaction.To remove the casts, once the worm farm is full (after nine to 18 months), place a plastic sheet or large container next to the bath, and using a garden fork remove the top half of the worms’ bedding. This is undigested food and is where the majority of worms will be. Place this to one side.Remove all casts. Rinse drainage layer thoroughly catching all liquid.Replace the contents that were put aside and commence the feeding, forking, watering process when required.Your bath worm farm will ultimately digest about 1-2 litres of mixed organic waste a day.

COMPOSTING

Welcome to the composting section, remember even a small effort by everyone can make a big difference.

Did you know that there are around 1 thousand million microscopic organisms in every teaspoon of compost?

Compost is a mixture of organic material and is used as fertiliser. Generally, the ingredients used to make compost come from our gardens and kitchens (food scraps) although organic material is anything that was once living. Compost results from the eventual decomposition or break down of the ingredients. It can take anywhere between two and 18 months before compost is ready to use. The length of time is governed by the method employed, what gets put into the bin, the time of year and how often the material is turned.

Getting Started

  • Choose a site with care. Ideally, it should be warm and sheltered.
  • Consider neighbours by siting the heap or bin away from any areas that are too close and could cause offence.
  • To work properly, your compost heap should be at least 1m high x 1m wide x 1m deep.
  • Start with a layer of coarsely chopped twiggy woody material on bare soil or grass.
  • Add alternate layers of green matter (nitrogen rich) and brown matter (carbon rich) preferably in layers no more than 5-10cm deep (see list on page 5 of the Composting guide).
  • Limit all materials, including grass clippings, to thin layers.
  • If you can’t be bothered layering, just make sure there is a mixture of green and brown matter.
  • Avoid cat/ dog/ human faeces, meat, fish, bones, oil and invasive weeds.
  • Smaller pieces make quicker compost – for quick compost, fibrous materials should be no bigger than the thickness of your finger (2cm).
  • The heap should have a cover, eg, plastic lid, rinsed underfelt, tarpaulin.
  • Be aware that it is difficult to manage rodents if a compost heap is used.
  • Rodents can be kept out of compost bins by cutting out a piece of chicken wire larger than the base of the bin. Place it underneath the bin on the soil and fold the edges 10cm up the sides of the bin.

When adding food scraps, it’s especially useful to add an equal quantity of brown material on top such as dry leaves to reduce odours.

Keeping it going

  • Compost activators or accelerators can be added to the compost to hasten the natural break-down process. They usually contain a natural nitrogen or bacterial enzyme and can be bought at most garden centres.
  • Sprinkling on lime and untreated wood ash can help balance pH & reduce smells.
  • The heap should be as moist as a wrung out sponge. Add water if needed.
  • Avoid excessive moisture by keeping the heap covered.
  • To work properly, your compost heap needs to reach temperatures between 30 and 60°C. From time to time, check that it is heating up in the centre; it should feel warm.
  • Compost needs air – turn and mix it up to aerate and speed up decomposition.

The final touches

  • Once an open heap is 1 metre in height, you should finish it by turning it with a pitchfork and mixing it up every week or two.
  • Either use a new bin for the new heap, or use your original bin and just keep the old heap covered with underfelt, tarpaulin or something similar.
  • Compost is ready when it becomes a sweet, dark, crumbly material and you cannot distinguish the original materials in it.
  • If compost is well maintained and turned often it can be ready in as little as 6-8 weeks. If it is never turned, it will be ready in 12-18 months.
  • When it’s ready, put it onto the soil or dig it into your garden. You can also use it for pot plants and for potting up seedlings.

Don’t forget to wash your hands when you’ve finished composting and gardening!

Green and brown matter

GREEN – Nitrogen rich, wet matter
Food scraps
Manure
Fresh grass clippings
Weeds without seeds
Vegetable scraps
Seaweed
Tea leaves and bags
Coffee grounds

BROWN – Carbon rich, dry matter
Torn newspaper/cardboard
Egg cartons
Tree prunings
Dry leaves
Bark, untreated sawdust
Wood ash
Twigs and sticks
Crushed shells

What not to compost

Although in theory anything organic can be composted, some things are best avoided when composting at home.

Cat and dog faeces
Can cause disease

Meat, fish, oil, bones, fat
Can attract rats

Non-organics eg: tin, glass, plastics
Won’t break down

Invasive weeds, eg: kikuyu, wandering willy, jasmine
Could spread in or beyond your garden – however they can be composted after treatment (see page 7 of the Composting guide)

Large amounts of pine needles or gum leaves
Allopathic- create environment hostile to compost creatures

Woody materials in pieces larger than the diameter of your finger
Too slow to break down

Diseased plants (eg, with blight)
Disease may spread

Bamboo, flax and cabbage tree leaves
Not suitable for composting and not taken by composting companies (bury in the ground, or take to a transfer station for landfilling)

Common composting problems

Problem – Cause – Solution

Smelly, slimy heap

  • Not enough air – Turn heap
  • Too wet – Add brown material (eg. dry leaves)
  • Too much nitrogen – Add brown material

Materials are not decomposing

  • Heap too small – Increase size of heap
  • Not enough heat due to lack of green materials or water – Add green materials (eg, manure or blood and bone) and water
  • Materials in heap are too large – Break materials down into small pieces

Pests attracted to heap eg, flies, cockroaches, rats, mice

  • Wrong food added – Don’t use meat/bones/ fish. Bury food scraps in centre of heap
  • Bin not rodent proof – Rodent proof your bin

Fruit flies (vinegar flies)

  • Heap is too acidic – Sprinkle lime on heap

Ants

  • Heap is too dry – Add water and lime

Other “mini-beasts”, eg, beetles, worms

  • This is not a problem – creatures are essential to the composting process. Appreciate the work they do!

Invasive weeds

It can be difficult for people to accept that well loved plants like honeysuckle and Mexican daisy are deemed to be pests, but it is essential to control them. Plants like ginger, jasmine and privet can cause serious harm to our native environment and others can threaten the livelihoods of producers of commercial crops.

To find out more and to identify invasive weeds, visit:www.doc.govt.nz

www.weedbusters.org.nz

www.arc.govt.nz

How to compost invasive weeds
It is possible to compost invasive weeds, however it is essential that they first go through a “pre-compost” process in order to ensure that they die. This requires the following steps.

  • Put the weeds in a large plastic bag with a handful of soil and water.
  • Tie the top and leave for at least two months, until there are no green shoots or other signs of life.
  • Add them to your compost heap as a green.

If you leave them for long enough, they will turn into soil. There is also another way to handle noxious weeds.

  • Put them into a closed bin and cover them with water (or submerge them in a sack).
  • Leave for 2-3 months by which time the water will turn a green/ brown colour but it can be used as fertiliser for your plants.
  • Empty the solids into your compost bin.

Types of compost bins

Before you choose a compost bin you should consider what you will be putting in it. Larger, open bins are better for people with large amounts of garden waste. Smaller, enclosed bins are more suitable for households with large quantities of food waste as they provide a barrier to rodents. You may find you need both!

Choosing a bin

There are a number of points to consider before you buy a bin so that you get one appropriate for your needs. These are:

  • the number of people in your home
  • the size of your garden
  • your ability to turn compost with a garden fork
  • the bin design (ie, whether different parts need be lifted)
  • the capacity of the bin taking the above into consideration
  • materials used in the making the bin (eg, some are made of recycled plastic)
  • whether the bin is made locally. If it’s hard on your back, your back needs to be up to it!

Make your own compost bin

If you are making your own bin, you can use a wide range of material, including chicken wire, wood, plywood, bricks, concrete blocks, etc. It must be on the soil and no smaller than 1m high x 1m wide x 1m deep and no larger than 5m3.

For large amounts of garden waste, units can be made from wood, bricks or concrete blocks. Ready access from the front is necessary.

Stacking bins have the advantage of being moveable and can be extended to cope with large amounts of waste. Black polythene or sacks may be used for lining, warmth and moisture control. Wrap netting frame around wooden stakes. Line these with newspaper or cardboard to retain heat.

Check for designs in books at your public library in books on compost such as The Suburban/Urban Composter by Mark Cullen.

Some designs can also be found at:

Home

Kia Ora, Welcome to the Create your own Eden website, here you will find all you need to know on how to make great compost, improve your soil and produce fantastic fertilisers for your plants, veggies and garden all for free!!
The site covers three elements of Composting, these are:

Traditional composting using a heap or bin
Vermiculture or Worm Farming
Bokashi

At the bottom of each page you can download a step by step guide on home composting which will provide you with all the information needed to produce your own fresh nutritious compost.
You can also find out how to use your compost to produce your own “Smart Garden” and receive top tips from the experts.
Make the most of your garden and kitchen rubbish and Create your own Eden!
Now let’s get composting!

Composting is Nature’s way of recycling and helps to reduce the amount of waste we put out for the rubbish collection.