In Lyttleton Gardens, we turn all scraps from the house and shop into beautiful, rich compost. Since we are lucky enough to get a large volume of scraps, we use the 'thermophilic' or 'hot composting' method.
This means we build our heap using relatively equal parts of nitrogen-rich food scraps and carbon-rich straw, and sprinkle in some lactobacillus (optional, more on this in a future post). We then let the heap warm up. It does this on its own as the bacterial activity within the heap generates heat. It can go up to 60 to 65 degrees Celsius! We then turn our heap every 2-3 days, and within 3-4 weeks, we get beautiful, sweet-smelling, rich organic compost.
You know you've got it right when it smells earthy. This smell is due to actinomycetes, bacterial decomposers that produce enzymes including volatile chemicals that give soil its clean, fresh, earthy aroma. Once the heap cools, the worms move in, with their nutrient-rich castings. They aerate the compost by going about their usual business.
Applying copious amounts of our compost at the foot of our rutherglen bug-affected plants and mulching heavily has helped hugely. Populations have balanced themselves out, and plants look strong and happy again. Hurray!