Permabed compost.

We have made and used our own hot composts together with cold composts and wormcastings for a few years now and I find it a highly rewarding dynamic life force to work with.

We have always used these combinations of composts on our raspberries, herbs and until two years ago our vegie permabeds. A tenet of six figure farming is to minimise weed pressure and our bespoke composts aren't able to fulfill this.

J.M Fortier points out the benefits of a seemingly more pragmatic approach by suggesting we buy in a weed free, good quality compost and let someone else do work. I tend to agree and to this time I am doing this, although 'quality' is the catch.

Buying in bulk compost.

In Hobart, Tasmania as in most modern cities there are numerous competitive recycling and upcycling commercial waste value adders (compost suppliers)

Amongst the local compost oligarchy we find different sources of inputs and compositions,the things they seem to have in common are; regular independant  testing, competitive prices and services and erratic results!

Often the composts are still very hot, so little or no humic action there, The demand must out run the supply of these places, i'm amazed they can't stockpile more.

As we have a soil testing service and our microfarm I am constantly being told of poor experiences with all of these composts, occasionally good by the same gardener, and amongst the Hobart growers we start to get a picture of the inconsistency. 

Amending bought compost.

My best suggestion to people, taken from a great Hobart soil scientist, Letitia Ware, is to stockpile the compost your self for as long as possible and innoculate with the best you have at hand, be it an amazing all encompasing bioactive tea as Letitia would make or a brewed microbial mix from bought E.M and organic molasses.

Permabed Compost, sourced from Horticultural and Landscape Supplies (Tasmania) 1-5mm, used for permabeds. This compost, fine grade Seagreens, is registerd for Organic farms but we could use others as they have been composted! It is pine free, (pine is a biocide so will suppress soil life), weed free and often does need extra time and attention.

Compost maintenance, heat and microbes.

We additionally recommend the use of a commercial compost pile thermometer such as the Reotemp as it will give you accurate readings from the centre of the heap (90cm stem).

It is important your compost doesn't 'cook' above 70c as it will kill the goodies, If it is above 60c you should pull it apart and rebuild putting the outside toward the centre to re homogenise the heating. You can also add more microbes.

We typically add around 3-5litres of bug brew neat per cubic metre, often we are keeping a 10m3 pile going, needing to add 30-50 litres. This costs us $10 per 20litres therefore if we add only one brew per compost innoculation it will cost around $50 all up (including heat pad if needed).

It is always a good idea to improve your compost any way you can, we additionally add soluble humate, humic acid powder, and a precharged (microbes-neat, fish emulsion, seaweed solution) fine grade biochar as it acts as a home for good bacteria amongst a plethera of other benefits.