Mahi pūwairākau, composting, is at the heart of a hua parakore system. No garden should be without one, two, three or four heaps!! A compost heap is a recycling facility for kitchen waste and garden trimmings and builds healthy soil necessary for growing kai (food).

Compost is the single most important factor to achieving long term success in growing kai. As we plant veggies and sow seeds, we are asking the soil to produce kai to feed us. In turn, we need to feed and replenish the soil, and this is what compost does. It is, by far, the best soil improver and conditioner around. In a closed loop māra, such as a hua parakore garden, the aim is to generate all the materials you need for your garden, from your garden, with no outside inputs brought in. That means being able to source everything you need to make compost from your garden and your kitchen, aside from seaweed, which needs to be brought in from Tangaroa (ocean). Composting really is an art, sometimes your heap breaks down quickly and other times it just doesn’t have the right balance of materials, keep perservering, eventually nature takes hold and does her thing with outstanding results.

How composting works

Composting occurs in nature every day. Plants that die, and leaves and twigs that fall in the forests of Tāne Mahuta are consumed by worms, micro-organisms and decomposers. They eat through the decaying materials, recycling the goodness they contain back to the soil, thereby assisting more plants to grow. Composting mimics the cycles of Te Ao Tūroa and is a great way to bring this kaupapa into your māra practice.

You don’t need to understand every scientific detail of composting, so long as you understand the basic composting principles. Working on a trial and error basis, you can only get better and better. Your compost will become darker in colour, sweeter smelling and full of the vibrant energy of micro-organisms.

For more information on composting see Chapter 7: Te mahi māra hua parkore. Click to purchase this book.

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