Composting … everything! Well almost.

by cjj on November 15, 2014

2 x 1 cubic meter bins 2 x 1 cubic meter bins

We’re still making this compost bin, but I’ve started using it already … because I can! And I need to! I’ve always wanted one of these but never really realised how good it would be. When you have a garden, there is always green waste: old vegetable plants, trimmings from hedges, weeds etc. These have to go somewhere. They are best if they’re mulched into little pieces … but of course I don’t manage to have the mulcher out and ready to go each time I have an armful of stuff. Now, with 2 cubic meters of space, that stuff that I seem to be collecting everytime I go into the garden, has a place to go! And the idea is, once the space is full (and I figure I could fill both sides), you pull it all out and mulch it, firing it back into one side only. At the same time make sure you get a mix of green and dry brown plant matter, and it would be good to blend in some horse manure or other organic waste. I’m not an expert, but I reckon a variety of stuff is best.
When you do the mulching, blast the mulched mix of organic matter into one side only, because if you can toss it into the other side after a few days or weeks, depending on heat and moisture in your weather at the time, you will be able to turn it into compost more quickly than if you just let it sit there. If you manage to get a few cubic meters of mulched matter, and if it is a little bit damp, you will find that it will get quite hot. After it starts to cool off is when it’s time to turn it over. Try to put the outside of the heap on the inside of the new heap, and it will heat up again. Then it can go onto the garden, and you have the space to start storing more old plants and prunings.

This type of composting is aerobic composting. By allowing oxygen into the mix it will break down quickly.

I don’t put food scraps into this compost bin, because it is too hard to keep scavenging animals out of it.

Food scraps go into this bin:

Gedeye bins Gedye bins

 

I have 2 of these Gedye bins. Bury them into the ground a little bit, and vermin will never be a problem. These bins are anaerobic in their action, and take a long time to break down food scraps. Everything can go in them, so they are very convenient. Just what you need in a busy kitchen. However, there are three things that I have learnt are better not put in them: Avacado seeds, biggish meat bones and tiny stick on food labels. Avacado seeds will shoot and don’t break down. They end up being like rocks with small trees attached. Large bones make the end product very messy, and a chore to get out of the garden. And those tiny labels don’t break down either, and you end up with billions of them in just a small amount of compost … they’re really messy!
The reason I have 2 bins is that I’m very lazy! When one is full, I just let it sit there. I do nothing! It takes about a year to fill. (2 people in my household, but a very busy kitchen!) It would fill quicker if you do it properly, ie add some dirt for each bucket full of scraps. (But for me, having the dirt ready to throw in is asking too much!!) After a year the other bin is full. If I have the time, I lift the first bin and move it to another spot. The compost by then, is broken down to a small mound. If you dig it up to use, it can be a bit like vegemite! It’s usable, but usually too much trouble for me! These days I just leave it there, with a layer of more pleasant looking mulch over the top to hide it. I position these bins under trees and assume that the trees benefit from them. So that’s good enough …. and so convenient!
Oh, by the way, if after the 2nd bin is full, you can always just go back and start using the first bin again, because by then there is a lot more space, but you won’t be able to empty it for another year. This way you hardly ever have to deal with them. I love my gedye bins 🙂

Garden trimmings fill the gedye bins immediately, which isn’t much use, and grass trimmings make an impenetrable layer that never seems to break down. So grass trimmings have yet another type of bin:

Spinning bin Spinning bin

 

Even though we have a lawn, we don’t always have a lot of grass clippings, so this solution might not suit everyone. We live in virtually permanent drought, so only a small section of our lawn is watered and needs cutting, and we prefer to use a mechanical push mower because it doesn’t suck up all the precious top soil between the blades of grass. However, there is one area that gets run off from the garden and it is quite thick lawn. It’s easier to use the motor mower there, and if it rains, then there’s more grass to cut.
So the grass cuttings that we have go into this spinning type aerobic bin. A friend gave us this bin because she couldn’t deal with the compost .. she put all her food scraps in it, and when it was full she had to empty it. She tried to bury the compost but couldn’t stop the rodents from finding it. Oh, too much work!! So I didn’t even try that, but I did find out that if I put the grass clippings into it, and remember to give it a spin most days, they break down very quickly, and voila, more composted mulch!

If I had some grass clippings at the time I was putting stuff through the mulcher, it wouldn’t hurt to add them to the mix. If they were already moldy, I would certainly keep clear of the dust and take particular care not breath it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara November 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm

When I had a bit of land I bought large plastic garbage bins and cut the bottom out of them and used same as your kitchen scrap bin. Idea of using different bins is great.

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Alex November 17, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Nice idea. I’ve dabbled with composting in the past myself, usually just an exposed pile. Have you experienced any issues with the heat that gets generated by the decomposition? I’ve often wondered if that would be enough to warp the plastic or not.

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cjj November 18, 2014 at 5:59 am

Hi Alex. The plastic bins are not big enough to hold enough compost to heat up by themselves. The gedye bins are designed to use the sun to heat up the contents. In an aerobic heap of composting material the inside temperature would probably melt plastic, but the outside does not get that hot. I have not had any problems when I have had large aerobic heaps. I have thought about spontaneous combustion, but it hasn’t happened, and I think the moisture involved is enough to stop it catching alight.

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Jessica October 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Interesting informations. Thanks for share. I will follow your blog and I added my bookmaks

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