The master composter course, which was organised by Kerry County Council and the EPA Stop Food Waste programme, educated participants about composting and food waste prevention. On Saturday the group had a chance to see composting in action at the community allotments in Moyderwell, Tralee.
While a compost heap should be covered to avoid it getting too moist, leaf mold needs more moisture so the leaf piles are not protected from the rain.
Donal advised that soft leaves (such as sycamore) will break down faster than tough leaves (such as oak).
Once the initial tray begins to fill, another tray should be added on top and filled as normal. The worms will travel up to the new tray once they have digested the contents of the lower tray and converted them to worm castings.
The worm castings can be mixed with soil to make a great plant compost, and any liquid which drips into the collecting tray under the wormery can be used as a plant feed.
Donal advised that wormeries can be maintained indoors (a shed is ideal). A handful of gardening lime should be added to the wormery every now and then if the environment is becoming too acidic for the worms - you will know that this is happening if the amount of small white worms in the wormery increases.
The wormery had begun to fill with worm castings, so Donal and the group gathered bedding materials (leaves, shredded paper, egg cartons, cardboard) and steeped them in water to moisten them.
Donal moved the contents of the wormery to one side of the bin and added the fresh bedding. Food waste will be added to the fresh bedding and the worm castings can be removed from the bin once the worms have made their way over to their new environment.
Waste is simply added to the cone digester through the lid on top. Sachets of enzymes need to be added to the cone digester now and then to keep it working well.
Donal also showed the group a turning system which consists of three bays. Waste begins to break down in the first bay and starts to heat up. When the pile is moved to the next bay, the added air helps to feed the bacteria that are breaking down the waste. The pile in the final bay is finished compost.
In the afternoon the group split up and went to various locations in Tralee to inform the public about food waste and composting. All of the master composters who completed the course are expected to participate in educational events over the coming months to spread the word about waste minimisation.
Thanks to Donal O'Leary, Colum Gibson and Micheal O'Coilean for organising the course. Thanks also to the community allotments for their hospitality (and their fantastic barbecue!).
More images from the day are available in the gallery page of the KTT website.