How we Compost in the suburbs

How we compost in the suburbs

If you've been following me for a while you may have read this article about how we compost in the city. Now we've moved further out to a bigger block our methods have slightly changed a bit so I figured it was time for an update.

We've tried all sorts of systems including expensive tumblers, bokashi and in garden worm beds.

The setup we've gone for is super simple.

Note this isn’t a post on ‘how to’ compost, it’s all about our setup. If you’re looking for the how to you can find that here.

Why we ditched the tumblers

In the city these were great as they could go basically anywhere that had a flat surface. They stopped the beagle getting into the bin as well. However, I found they took longer, they would dry out a lot quicker and general life (worms/bugs) within the compost was limited.

Our compost bins

Our compost setup in the city.
Our Compost Bins that we now use and the aerating tool (the tumbler in the background is now decommissioned). I have a bale of sugar cane mulch right next to the bins to add my 'browns' every time I add my greens.

These bins are the bins we use exclusively now (except for our worm farm). They are basically a bin with the bottom cut out and combined with a compost aerator (although sometimes a garden fork works just as well) we're churning out our compost in around a month over the hotter months.

We have two bins, one for adding to and one for cooking. By the time the one we're adding to is full the other one that is cooking is done. This may change as the weather cools down and we may need to add a third bin but it's working for now.

How to make it rodent proof

I get this question a lot about these bins as it's open at the bottom. I've seen people put mesh on the bottom but I haven't found the need to do that. It does have a slight lip on the base and if you bury the bin into the ground around 10cm this is supposed to prevent rodents getting in.

Bury them into the ground at least 10cm deep

The other thing I do, is not add any cooked scraps or grains - they go to the chickens (or the dog). I also make sure my brown to green ratio is spot on every time by making sure I chuck in a couple handfuls of sugar cane mulch (browns) every time I add my kitchen scraps (greens) to it and consequently the bin never stinks.

If your compost bin stinks you're doing it wrong. Add more browns. Also, grass clippings are considered a 'green', even if they are 'slightly' brown you may have to top it up with something else.

So far we have not had any problems with rats getting into it (the worm farm and chicken run is a different story).

How to get it cranking

The best thing you can do to get your compost really cooking is to add finished compost to an unfinished pile. I will usually sieve my compost before putting in the garden and put all the chunky bits into the new bin. I also add comfrey leaves.

Also don't forget to aerate it. I aerate at least once a week (more often twice a week) and this really gets it breaking down.

You don't need a thermometer but I got one for curiosity sake. It's fun to see it heat up!

Our worm farm

Yes we still have our can-o-worms worm farm and we add to it, mostly vegetable and fruit peelings, cardboard and a bit of straw. Nothing too big and not too often to avoid it becoming anaerobic or attracting rodents as they can get in if the lid is not sitting plumb. I try to avoid seeds as when the castings are added to the garden the seeds seem to germinate instantly as opposed to the compost bin.

The worm tower is now the dog poo tower

The problem with ditching ornamentals for edibles is nowhere to put your dog poo (we used to chuck it in the ornamental gardens). So instead we now use our tower (basically a big pipe with holes in it) buried in the ground to pop the dog poo into it. I can't say I've seen any worms in it. But at least we're not stepping in land mines.

I hope that helps in your composting journey, if you're keen to learn more then come over and join us in the Dirt Lovers Membership I've got a whole heap of videos and resources for composting inside.

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