Cheat’s Compost


I don’t always keep up with compost making. There’s many a moment when I have crops ready to plant but no compost to hand. In which case, I whip around the garden and creatively rustle up some soil food, or cheats compost as I affectionately call it.

Its moment like these you need handy stashes of well rotted manure, aged scrapings from the chook house or mushy old hay dotted about the edge of your vegetable patch. You will be super grateful for them again and again. Thing is, fertility is only available after time + biology have worked their magic. You need to think ahead here and have organic matter rotting away in anticipation of compost fails or lockdowns.

wormcastings from the worm farm

In the absence of pre rotted goodness, my back up plan is the wormfarm and/or the delicious soil beneath well fed citrus or avocados. Take a little from each one.

Still not enough? Go low and look underneath whatever piles of organic matter you got. One such desperate hunt revealed an amazing pile of peaty wormy goodness beneath the stash of wood by the fire circle. Glorious find!

12 brassicas and not enough compost.

soak your seedlings pre planting

Yesterday I had about a dozen broccoli and cabbage seedlings ready to plant, no prepared beds and no time. Not for the first time, understand.

If only I’d looked after my spring made compost but alas, I’d ignored it. During summer that never ends well. All wasn’t lost though – while the outside of the compost pile was crusty and dry, there was a small amount of goodness in the middle. Yuss! A good beginning.

rotten manure full of worms

That little bit of compost mixed with my stash of rotten Nellie poo – thanks piggy! – gave me enough to spread 2cm’s worth of goodness across the bed. My buddy Ange had dropped off a load of seaweed the week prior. Best timing ever as I had no mineral fertiliser to hand. Fair to say, I’ve had my mind on other things lately.

In the end, this is how my latest emergency bed rolled out.

Cabbage seedling planted into seaweed

Compost mixed with Nellie poop spread on top of the bed
+ seaweed spread along top,
+ seedlings planted and watered in,
+ the crusty dried compost on top of that for mulch,
+ biological brew poured on,
= autumn broccoli secured.


  1. Than
    Thank you for being so real a d transparent Kath. It is so encouraging.

  2. Keriann Lancaster says

    Hi Kath,
    I always enjoy your newsletters, thanks so much for sharing.
    Question, do you net your brassicas against the white butterfly or just keep an eye on them for green caterpillars?
    Cheers, Keriann.

  3. Keriann Lancaster says

    Sorry Kath, just read the March planting guide and got my answer. Cheers, Keriann.

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