A tale of two composters
We get asked compost questions constantly.
Can I add this? Why does it look like that? Where should I go for this? What can I do about that? And it’s not just from the novices either - countless composters who have been doing it for years still need the occasional piece of advice.
We've probably been told an equal amount of times that composting is super easy, almost exclusively by people who’ve never done it before. Once they give it a try though, these people are quick to discover that there are so many ways compost can go wrong.
Everyone knows the usual symptoms - an unpleasant odour wafting from the bin, an overabundance of creepy crawlers and just a general sense of unpleasantness. Poorly managed compost is downright disgusting and you can almost always see (and smell) when someone hasn’t been doing things right.
But sometimes you can’t.
Sometimes your compost will seem totally fine on the surface, but it’s actually leaking out copious amounts of nitrous oxide or nutrient-laden leachate. Maybe while everything up top was fine, the lower half is still immaturely decomposed and will wreak havoc on your plants when you use it.
These are super common issues and incredibly difficult to troubleshoot but why? Why is it so difficult to ensure your compost is clean, effective and efficient? Why is it hard to compost the right way?
Well, basically, because there is no single right way! How you should be composting is dependent on hundreds of different factors, from location to feedstock to set-up to weather to stage of decomposition and many more.
For example, imagine a first-time composter. Let’s call him Chris.
He lives in a townhouse in inner-city Brisbane with a couple of housemates and just picked up a small compost bin from Bunnings. Typically, Chris and his roommates generate a small amount of waste and it’s mostly kitchen scraps (and the occasional yard clippings). Brisbane’s a tropical climate but it’s coming into winter and hasn’t rained for a solid few weeks.
Now let’s compare Chris to Chloe. Chloe lives and works on a relatively small permaculture farm in Canada, which includes her compost operation. Her compost is mostly made up of pig manure and some green waste and utilises a five batch system, each batch at around 1 tonne. Her farm is in a fairly temperate zone but just came off the back of an incredibly cold winter.
If not obvious already, the ways Chris and Chloe manage their compost are going to be completely different. These examples are about as extreme as you could ever get but even much more similar set-ups need unique management methods.
Unfortunately, most blogs, informative materials and education programs out there treat all compost as the same though. These guides usually provide instructions based on what may or may not have worked for their particular set-up, with little regard to the reader’s being different. This leads to confusion and frustration in people trying to look after their own compost.
This is also a leading cause of why so many people either never try or eventually give up on their composting.
So what's the solution, besides years (or decades) of practice and extensive research?
That's what we're trying to do. Like any expert composter, our Monty device and mobile management platform takes into account everything about your compost setup when we provide our instructions to keep things breaking down clean and quickly.