Composting for our permaculture garden
Connecting with nature is merely a walk downstairs to Mindful Space’s very own permaculture garden. Here, our dedicated team of volunteers grows organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs every weekend. We make our own compost to fertilize our crops. Everyone is welcome to come and experience gardening and composting for free! If you simply want a taste of our harvest, swing by our Urban Farmer’s Market every last Sunday of the month where we sell them at affordable prices. (Event postponed till July due to Covid-19 Circuit Breaker Lite.)
What is a permaculture garden?
Permaculture stands for permanent agriculture. A permaculture garden makes use of the natural forces of the wind, sun, and rain to provide everything the plants need to grow and flourish. Growing organic vegetables is automated this way, requiring less effort while preserving the land.
Permaculture gardens are covered with mulch (dried leaves, hay, cardboard, etc) to protect the soil and maintain moisture. Flowering plants are grown to attract insects; biodiversity balances the ecosystem and supports pollination. The nutrients from the compost make the soil like a sponge to feed the worms in it. Excess leaves are pruned and composted, completing the cycle.
Mulch covers the soil
We grow our crops in the keyhole, raised beds and spiral gardens. A keyhole garden is C-shaped with a central depository for compost and water. The nutrients and water seep into the soil with the force of gravity, nourishing the keyhole garden.
The white central depository provides nutrients for the keyhole garden
A spiral garden also makes use of gravity by having the land slope down from the highest central point. A moringa tree, a fast-growing crop, stands in the centre. When a moringa branch is chopped off, its root disengages and discharges nutrients like potassium and nitrogen in the soil.
A moringa tree stands at the centre of our spiral garden
How does composting work?
Composting involves decomposing organic materials like food scraps into simpler compounds that fertilize the soil for growing crops. Composting requires 3 ingredients – browns, greens, and water.
- Browns are dry, harder materials like dry leaves, branches, twigs, cardboard, and newspapers. They provide carbon.
- Greens include leaf clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and eggshells. They provide nitrogen.
- Water provides moisture to break down the organic matter.
Our compost area is located behind a cluster of bamboo by the car park. Every weekend, our volunteers collect eggshells, vegetable and fruit scraps from nearby hawker stalls, restaurants, and hotels for the greens.
This is a compost pile in its early stage. More browns are used than greens, in a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio. The compost pile is left to decompose for 2 weeks. After that, the compost pile is aired. The ventilation will generate heat in the compost pile, further breaking down the organic matter.
Browns and greens are combined
The compost pile is covered for 2 weeks
It takes around 3 – 3.5 months to develop the compost into fertilizer for our garden. This pile here is ready to use as fertilizer. It is transferred into a bin and brought to the garden.
I would like to attend a gardening session. What can I expect?
There are no fixed tasks for gardening sessions; it all depends on what is needed on the day itself. You are welcome to bring your own fruit and vegetable scraps and eggshells to compost. Our friendly and knowledgeable volunteers will guide you along and answer any questions you have. If it is your first time, you will most likely help out around the garden, but help at the compost area is welcome as well.
Pruning (trimming) plants, the clippings are composted which completes the cycle
Transferring compost to the garden
Composting itself is a fast job but there are other tasks to be done at the compost area. We built a fence around the composting area using repurposed bamboo poles and a bamboo mat so that it looks tidier.
A young tree that was growing too near to the other trees was also uprooted and replanted.
At the end of the day, seeing and tasting the fruits of our labour makes the hard work under the sun all worth it. We have been eating our whole lives but many of us have never actually grown our own food. Gardening is an experience that truly gets us connected to and more appreciative of our food.