Compost Like a Peasant

Smith Journal

Smith Journal

COMPOST IS ITSELF A COMPOST OF IDEAS. The modern method was invented in the early 1930s when British agricultural scientist Sir Albert Howard witnessed the fertilising techniques of Indian peasant farmers, and began to conduct his own experiments in fermenting agricultural waste. Eastern wisdom, Western science and Mother Earth mysticism combined to create the miraculous process we still use today. Sir Albert’s compost principles, published in 1931, remain as relevant as ever. An efficient compost needs a carbon-nitrogen ratio of about 33:1, which means for every bucket of nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ (kitchen scraps, lawn clippings or weeds) you should add a bucket of carbon-rich ‘browns’ (dried leaves, hay or shredded paper). The trick is to keep the compost moist but not wet; a bit like the texture of a well-wrung-out sponge, or, in Sir Albert’s milieu, a sweaty colonialist’s breeches…

For the full story, pick up Smith Journal Volume 11.