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By Neville Passmore

The recently created Kalamunda Community Garden opened its gates and put on a show in May to celebrate International Compost Awareness Week. I was invited to get on my soapbox and talk on the subject "Compost ain’ t compost". It turns out that the soapbox consisted of a bale of hay - very appropriate. C-Wise contributed my time and a pallet of bagged product at half price which could then be on-sold to raise funds for the garden.

The Shire of Kalamunda provided the space for the community to develop a selfmanaged sustainable garden so that the community could come together and learn how to grow their own food. Historic Headingley Hill House sits in the centre of the 1000m2 property which was built by the Stirk family when the original cottage became too small for the expanding pioneer family.

Soil on top of the Darling Scarp is typically gravelly, impoverished and often makes up a very thin layer overlaying rock. Composted materials are essential for building up these soils particularly for growing food crops as these are high demand plants.

C-Wise have recently developed three high humus - high maturity compost products that are available in 22 litre bags. These are Humicarb a soil builder, Humiclay a combination of compost and bentonite clay with zeolite and Turf Perfect a fine textured material for top dressing applications for lawns. My talk was about the differences in composted products and there are plenty. A recent development is the classification of mature compost under the umbrella of the Australian Standards.
These mature composts are very different to their less mature namesakes. Not only do they look and smell different (it’s hard to see anything of the original ingredients and the perfume is pleasant, nutty and earthy), they also work in a completely different fashion. These are very stable material rich in humus which is a form of organic carbon. This living carbon is the source of food for the soil biology that drives plant growth.

My daughter Lisa Passmore leads the management group and in a short time they have inspired many locals to get their hands into the soil and grow food. There is also a strong interest in composting at the garden and a series of bins made from packing pallets is being employed for just that purpose. I was asked to look over the compost and found that one bin was too dry to get any composting going. I suggested adding more green weed and vegetable waste to bring up the nitrogen and moisture levels.


My daughter Lisa and I at the community garden