Monday, June 17, 2013

Do you bin or bay?

Way back in May it was international compost week and it got me thinking about compost. Of course by now the week is long over, but I still thought a post about composting seemed in order right now.  Here is my compost bin.
 I have often posted about my compost bin, and have met others who say that a compost bin does not work for them.  These are a couple of my observations:
1.  Forget the hot compost/cold compost debate, as there is not enough surface area to hot compost.  A bin works best by being as full as possible.  As everything composts it reduces vastly in volume, so you need to be continually aerating the mix, but if you have two bins you can leave one to mature while adding to the other.
2.  Air is so important!  I mix up my compost with a garden fork a couple of times a week.  I have seen spiral shaped tools for this purpose that look to be quite effective.  My five year old bin is breaking on the top edge because I do mix so much and so vigorously, but think in the end I get a better compost.
3.  There needs to be twice as much brown dry ingredient as wet  ingredients. Leaves, shredded newspaper or cardboard etc.  These will stop your compost getting slimy and smelly.
4.  Kitchen waste, plant clippings etc all make up the wet ingredients
5.  A bin works for those who do not have enough space for a three bay compost system which is a really good way of composting large amounts.
6.  You can grow certain plants as compost activators, such as lemongrass or this comfrey.
Or find seaweed on the beach.

Another thing I did when I had lots of leaves, was fill a bin with shredded damp leaves.  Over the course of time - about one year in my case, this turned into lovely rich leaf mold.  I tipped this out into my veggie patch and things seem to be growing very well in that enriched soil.
I am thinking I would like to either use that leaf bin to store compost as it matures, or else get another compost bin the same as this one and only add to one as the other matures.  Is there anyone else that does this?
How do you make compost?


  1. Your compost bin looks like it's doing a great job.
    I don't compost, but I've been meaning to....maybe I can start with the leaf compost version first, since I do rake quite a few leaves from my trees in the garden.

  2. I thought this was going to be a post about eBay!
    I used to always have two compost bins on the go. One that I was filling and one that was maturing. If I came across anything that hadn't fully composted in the maturing bin it would go into the one that I was filling.
    All that has changed now that we have chickens. All of our compost goes into the chicken run, they eat it, mix it and enrich it and give us the best compost in return!

  3. I have both. I started with a bin but it didn't hold anywhere near enough compost for what my garden produced so I added a bay. And then I got another bin when a friend moved. It all works, it all is good for the environment and my garden. I never worry about mixing dry, wet, garden, kitchen, chook poo, grass clippinigs... I put in what my home and garden produce and trust nature to do the rest (with regular stirring by me) and it works - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly - but it always works eventually.

  4. I have two 200 litre barrels with the bottoms cut out (so sitting on dirt for good drainage).
    I mainly put kitchen scraps in, mixed with garden humus material to ensure it doesn't get too wet.
    I have added red compost worms and they love it. There are thousands of them in thick clumps near the surface. I think it really help to chop the kitchen scraps up with a knife after each meal. Then I fill a small 5 litre bucket in the kitchen, before going out to compost barrel.
    I don't seem to need a lot of mixing in the compost barrels.
    I also bury chopped up meat and fat and crushed bones (else in my yard), so nothing gets thrown out.

  5. I've got a bin but, generally, I just toss whatever into the garden and it rots all by itself.

  6. Virginia,
    the leaf mold is fantastic - you can just put it aside in black garbage bags if you like - just make sure it is a bit moist to start off with.
    Unfortunately we can't have chickens, but I can see how that is the answer!
    (sorry if you were disappointed not to find a post about e-bay!)
    Your veggies look so healthy you must be doing the right thing!
    I never thought you could add the red worms to a regular compost bin! Wow that sounds good - I might have to look into that. I also bury prawn shells and fish bones in the garden and they break down really quickly.
    Thistle Cove,
    I think that would attract vermin in my garden.

  7. The idea of the leaves in black bags is a great idea - I have a tiny town house garden with some big trees !? So I have lots of leaves. Under the trees they stay where they drop as a natural mulch but I sweep them up from the paving. Now they'll go into bags to become leaf mould.

  8. Carol,
    Yes I was surprised at what lovely crumbly earthy product it made.

  9. "I've got a bin but, generally, I just toss whatever into the garden and it rots all by itself."

    Well, I do feel the same.

  10. We have a hedgerow around most of our property, so we toss green cuttings, etc., around the base of those. I've got thirty years of the nicest soil back there, better than anywhere else in the acreage! I have been amazed at what comes up in that wonderful black loam sometimes. When I need more "dirt" for the yard, that's where I find it. It does get weed seeds, but we just turn everything occasionally, so the problem is reduced. We have only one vintage chicken left, so she takes care of her share of goodies too.

  11. We have a couple of bays. Three would be ideal but we manage with the two. One that gets filled and the other that get turned until its ready and then used. We put everything into it and the hubby turns it when he remembers! we have lots of great soil as we try not to let anything organic leave the property. We use everything as mulch or compost and throw nothing into the council bins that could be composted! - K xx


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