Composting at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Ballymaloe Cookery School is an organic farm and making our own compost is an integral part of ensuring that our soil continues to have the fertility and bio diversity that is so essential not just for plant health, but also for the health of the animals and human beings that eat those plants.
Every day all the scraps from the kitchens and from the tables are taken in hens buckets and put into a large bin beside one of our hen houses. The hens can root through the scraps looking for delicious lits bits of food to eat. We supliment the hens food with organic layers pellets an they spend most of thier day outside where they can also root around for seeds and grubs. A few days later we get delicious eggs from the hens for our cooking. Pasture feed hens produce delicious eggs.
Once a week all the scraps the hens have not eaten are taken down to our large compost heaps where the contents are placed in the middle. On turning the whole heap with our front loader we start the composting process. We turn the heaps on a regular basis and the temperature will get up to an impressive 70c to ensure proper breakdown. After several turnings and at least 12 Months, the decomposition process facilitated by bacteria and fungus has broken down all the waste material to humus or soil. It is this nitrogen, nutrient and micro-organism rich compost that we put out on our soil ready to recieve the seeds for a new crop of beetroot, lettuce and many other vegetables we grow here at the school.
We also believe that the benefits of healthy soil which have been enriched by 15 years of our own organic compost have led to stronger, healthier plants that resists pests better and provide more nutritious and flavoursome vegetables for our students and the table.