My first attempt at composting was in 2007.A� I remember it well.A� I had moved to Doha, Qatar for work and part of my relocation package was a two bedroom townhouse with a small garden out the back.A� I was pretty excited about having my first garden and my imagination ran wild as I thought about growing my own little oasis in the middle of the desert.
I should point out that my townhouse was in the middle of a compound that had beautifully manicured lawns, tall palm trees and a small legion of gardeners that kept everything watered from morning to night.A� I figured that creating my oasis would be easy. A�I will acknowledge that the compound was located in the middle of a barren desert!
Coming from a family of keen gardeners I am ashamed to admit that I had not inherited a green thumb. But there was one this that I did remember and that was the importance of compost.A� a�?Your plants are only as good as the soil they grow in.a�?A� I dona��t know who said that and maybe I read it in a magazine but I immediately set about googling compost at home.
My parents have a compost heap at the bottom of the garden.A� Vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and grass trimming are diligently collected and added to the heap which then silently works ita��s magic until the time comes when they can collect this magic dirt and grow more stuff.
My parents garden is in Kent in the UK which is also known as the a�?Garden of Englanda��.A� Everything and anything grows there.A� The only potential risk to their compost heap is the occasional flooding.A� To be honest, Ia��m sure Dad looks at that as a blessing because the compost ends up spread across the garden and he didna��t have to shovel it!
So I decided to start small.A� I got a bucket with a lid, punctured drainage holes in the bottom and started collecting my food scraps.A� I was going great guns and after only a week I had filled my bucket half way.A� My Googling research informed me that I shouldna��t mess with the compost and should just leave it to work ita��s magic.A� Just turn it once in a while.
After two weeks I began to detect a bit of a smell coming from the side of the house.A� Ia��d already had a few problems with the toilet and a flooding washing machine so I figured that something had gone wrong with the drains.A� I notified maintenance but they couldna��t find the source of the problem.
The smell got progressively worse and seemed to emanate from one particularly shaded corner of the garden.A� The Compost Bin!A� Gingerly I opened the lid and was hit in the face by the stench of putrified food waste.A� I quickly resealed the lid and went back to Google.
Composting is the process of bacteria breaking down the scraps into dirt.A� Ia��m sure therea��s a far more technical explanation but according to google these micro-organisms require oxygen.A� They can do their job anaerobically (without oxygen) but the end result is usually rather smelly – Oh really?!A� So I went back to the bucket and bravely drilled holes around the side releasing the stench onto my neighbours.A� My apologies to them for this rather delayed confession.
After a few days I was able to approach the bin without wanting to hurl and took the lid off.A� I could see that the food scraps had definitely rotted but not into a rich soil like consistency but more like untreated sewage that sloshed around in the bin.A� Since adding air holes, fruit flies had moved in and made themselves comfortable.A� The sides of the bin were coated in fruit fly eggs and once hatched they flew lazily around the surface of the putrified sludge.
Not to be thwarted I decided that it probably just needed to dry out and so with the smell no longer an issue I left the lid off hoping that with a little time and sunshine, the festering slime would somehow transform into a nutritious loam.
Herea��s a little geography lesson for you.A� Qatar is locateda��a��.. This means that ita��s average temperature in the summer is a��.. and can easily reach 50 Celsius during the hottest month of the year, August.A� My little experiment into composting had begun in February and it was now mid summer and I was about to learn my next lesson about composting.
Bacteria are fussy little buggers when it comes to temperature.A� Thata��s why food needs to be kept in the fridge, otherwise the bacteria has a field day and makes the food go off.A� If your compost gets too cold they hibernate until it warms up again.A� If it gets too hota��.. they die.A� So a week after taking the lid of the compost bin I went and checked it out.A� The compost had definitely dried out.A� Instead of sewage I now had desiccated black powder.
Perhaps I could have mixed this with water and used it to fertilise the few plants that I had growing in the garden but after five months I was thoroughly disheartened and through the bucket away and opted to visit the garden centre instead!