Get them while their hot. Nirvana's HOT ROASTED CHESTNUTS available in Stirling main street on weekends from 11am til sold out.
FRESH CHESTNUTS available direct from our farm shop. Opened daily from 11am til 4pm


Fresh chestnuts are now available .
10am -4pm daily
184 Longwood Rd Heathfield 0477 972 866

Home Garden Barrel Compost Fact Sheet

Barrel compost activates the soil and soil organisms, encouraging better soil structure and quicker breakdown of inorganic and organic substances. It is used to spread the ‘compost’ influences especially when converting farms. 

The development Barrel compost grew out of concern with pollution of Strontium 90 s from atmospheric atomic bomb tests in 1958. Maria Thun and Dr Ehrenfried Pfeiffer collaborated trialing various substances then cultivating plants. An unambiguous result was obtained by growing plants with eggshells and ground basalt; the plants did not incorporate or store any radioactive Stontium90. They then set about a way to bring these two substances to the biodynamic farm. Further experiments and trials saw the development of the barrel compost.
Peter Proctor has developed its use especially on larger farms in Australia and NZ where there is little compost used. In India he has developed wide usage of the preparation. Although the barrel compost is made in a similar fashion all around the world the quantities of compost preparations, egg shells and basalt used vary although the amount of manure was around 50 litres End uses also vary see table below.
Very little is written about its use in the home garden. Deb Cantrill recommends it use for home gardeners on compost heaps, worm farms and to make the whole garden ‘compost’ by guiding the breakdown process especially where heavy mulch are used to protect the soil from heat and dryness. Many of the uses in the table below are also applicable.
Home Garden Barrel Compost.
*This was developed by Deb Cantrill and the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group to encourage and enable home gardeners to have their own supply thus increasing its frequency of use on the home garden.
To make the Home Garden Barrel Compost
  • Bottomless Container* Terracotta pot with bottom cut out.
  • 10 litres (1 bucket) good quality firm cow manure
  • 1 x 2gram biodynamic compost set
  • 125gm Fine rock dust e.g. fish creek
  • 50 gm ground egg shells
    1. Dig a hole 150cm deep and place bottomless container in hole and back fill up sides of container.
    2. Mix cow manure, rock dust and egg shells using a hand kneading action for 1 hour. You will observe quite a change.
    3. Place manure mix in container, add compost preparations as per usual.
    4. Cover manure with a damp hession sack.
    5. Cover container with waterproof lid.
    6. After 1 month fork over manure, smooth out and cover again.
    7. Check every 4 weeks or so. It should be ready in 3 months.
    8. Remove to storage container and store as per 500.

Preparing the Barrel Compost for use
CCP is generally applied in the afternoon. For a home garden take 20gm and place in 5 litres warm water. Stir as per 500 for 20 minutes and apply to selected area as per 500.
Soil spray
Influence of compost preps during conversion
At least 15m
20 min
Afternoon 3x
1kg /40l per acre
100g/portion 500
20gm /5litres
In conjunction with stirring 500.
Getting effects of 502/507 over the land
Last 15 min of stirring
Last 20min
100grams per acre
50g per gal
Used on the soil around all fruit trees
as a soil inoculants or soil conditioner

Before mulching trees
1kg/40 litres per acre
Foliar feed on all fruit trees
Strengthen the plants against possible fungus or insect attack

Every 14 days before and after flowering
1kg/40 litres per acre
Tree paste on bark of fruit trees
Strengthen the bark. This can bring good soil micro organisms up onto the tree

1kg/40 litres per acre
Dip roots of all young trees, shrubs or grapes prior to planting
Encourage new root development

1kg/40 litres per acre
Soak seeds prior to sowing
Encourage root development

Soak for 30 minutes, dry off , sow immediately
1kg/40 litres per acre
Dip seed potatoes before planting
This seems to protect the potato against blight

Dip potatoes and dry before planting.
1kg/40 litres per acre
Soak cuttings
Assist root development

Soak overnight prior to planting
1kg/40 litres per acre
Inoculate compost heap

Poured into holes along top of the heap. Or
Sprinkled into successive layers while building the heap.
1 kg/40 litres for each 5 meters of compost
Liquid manures
Add compost preps influence

Stir 10 minutes
Used as one component of the sequence of BD sprays of 500,501,502/507 and 508
Brings the effect of all the preparations onto the land over a short period. Gives Strength and quality to plants

1kg/40 litres per acre
When green manures are turned in
Add compost preps influence- guide breakdown and humus formation.


When compost is applied


On winter furrows


Inoculants in dairy shed effluent, mainly with flowforms
Add compost preps influence- guide breakdown and humus formation.
20 minutes

240g /40 litres/
1 bucketful per 5,000 litres
1kg/1weeks effluent/100 cows
Compost tea
Brings in bacteria & fungal activity- humus + trace elements + soil life
20 minutes
150g per ha for smaller areas, 75g per ha boardacre

BAA Biodynamic Agriculture Australia
PPNZ Peter Proctor various NZ publications
PPI Peter Proctor ‘Biodynamic agriculture in India’
MTL Maria Thun ‘Gardening for Life’
AHBG Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group.

Home Garden Barrel Compost (CPP) Trial at Nirvana Organic Farm

Deb Cantrill and members of the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group.
– To investigate if it is possible to make a smaller version of barrel compost (also known as cow pat pit) so home gardeners can easily make their own.
Investigate the possibilities of using other manures to bring in a range of animal influences into the home garden.
Literature search on methods used worldwide.
Set up 3 different sized composts in 3 different sized bottomless containers. Unglazed terracotta pots where chosen because they could easily fit into a home garden and are also durable. The bottom is simply removed with an angle grinder. There is also a possibility of making a container to suit. They are easily removed when compost is complete allowing the space to be planted. Peter Proctor was using clay bricks in India.

Cow manure
Egg shells
Rock dust (Fisher creek)
Biodynamic preps
50 litres
200 grams
500 grams
4 sets 8 gams
1/2 wine barrel
63 x 45x 56 cm
25 litres
100 grams
250 grams
2 sets 4 grams
Terracotta pot
47 x 30 x 38 cm
12 litres
50 grams
125 grams
1 set 2 grams
Terracotta pot
40 x 30 x 28 cm
The process started on May 2nd 2009.Cow manure was collected from Claret Ash Farm. The manure was measured out. The 3 portions then had the egg shells and rock dust added and where ‘kneaded by hand for 1 hour.

Mixed by 5 people. Each mixed 10 litres for a time and then passed it on repeated for the hour.
Mixed by 2 people—1/2 each kneaded for 1 hour.
Mixed by 1 person for 1 hour.
After the hour each was placed in its appropriate container, biodynamic preparations added, covered with a damp sack & waterproof lid.
JUNE 4th 2009 All 3 pits were inspected and mixed well with a fork. All looked much the same—the smallest was a little wetter & middle one a little dryer but after mixing the moisture evened out. The tops where smoothed and sack and waterproof lids replaced.
AUGUST the pits were inspected. The smallest compost was ready and removed to storage. The others left to mature a little more. The 25 litre compost was ready two weeks latter. The 50 litre compost is still developing but very close. 14/9/2009
All 3 pits matured displaying the same properties of humus development. Highly recommend that home gardeners use this method to produce their own therefore always having their own supply at hand.
Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group is planing to run this trial again in Spring to investigate the seasonal effect. 10 litres of manure will be used in the small barrel, making an easy 1 bucket measurement. It is also hoped Home garden members will quickly take up the method.
Next autumn we will plan a trial using different mixes of manure to bring a more diverse range of animal influences to the home garden.

Deb Cantrill is an experienced biodynamic orchardist, gardener and educator. Establishing Nirvana Organic Farm in 1983.Deb is the Coordinator and preparation maker/distributor for the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group.
Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Team: Chris Banks, Jan Sedunary, Robin Tait, Simon Martin, Martin Fry, Wendy Morris, Yi-Ting Wu, Cathy Smallridge.