Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Compost

Around my garden there’s always plenty of garden waste so there’s no shortage of raw material for making great compost. Now that my garden has grown in size, the black plastic compost bin I bought a few years ago isn’t big enough to keep up with demand. So, I knocked together a couple of wooden frames which stack on top of each other and I use the 2 systems in combination which seems to be working pretty well.

The above picture shows the end result, but once I’ve taken all my lovely compost and dug it into the garden, it’s time to start all over again. This is what I do...

Over a period of months I’ve been collecting all our kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and other organic waste into the black bin, plus each year when I do any big garden tidy up, I gather up dead punga branches, hedge trimmings and any other stuff that’s too big and woody to fit in the bin. When gathering this into heaps I usually do it in layers giving each layer a dusting of lime, which controls acidity and encourages insect life. I sometimes add a spade full of soil which I reckon helps in the decomposition process as it’s usually full of all kinds of micro-organisms. I leave it sitting in a pile for about a year in a shady corner of the garden.

Using the wooden frame (which has 4 pointed corner posts which poke into the ground) I use my body weight to dig the stakes into the ground, positioning it wherever I have space. 

Then I start forking the contents of the bin into the box, spreading it evenly in layers.

Each layer I give a dusting of lime as I alternate between the wet mushy contents of the bin and the dryer more twiggy, punga branches etc, which is already partly decomposed, making it like a huge multi-layered sandwich. I reckon the twiggy stuff helps to keep the stack airated which also encourages insect life.
This process of layering serves the same purpose as giving a compost heap a good mixing which is recommended in order to achieve the right consistency, not too wet, not too twiggy and coarse, but crumbly and full of insect life, especially worms. By the time it’s ready to use it will be well on the way to being returned to soil but full of rich goodness and life. 

When I’ve used up all the ingredients I put something over the top to keep the rain off it and then leave it for about 4-6 months. In the mean time I work at filling the bin again and gathering up more branches for the next batch. 


  1. I am a big compost fan too. I have 2 wooden frome compost bins that I rotate as one fills & is left to decompose I start on the other. By the time one is ready to use the next one is pretty close to full. It's great stuff & FREE!!! That's all I use in my garden apart from pea straw for mulch & the occasional fertilise with Seasol. I finally got all my veggie seedlings planted on the weekend.
    I have a new site here on Blogger now due to major problems with my self hosted one. The last post on TM Comics explains. My new site is listed on my Blogger profile

  2. The end of October is always a busy time in the garden, there's so many things to do. I miss reading your blog about your garden, Tony. Anyway we just picked another huge cauliflower from the garden this afternoon. We had it for dinner tonight — it was beautifully fresh.

    I don't know what Seasol is, but for some reason it makes me think I should go down to the beach and get some more seaweed for my compost. I forgot to mention we sometimes add seaweed.

  3. G'day Dave,
    Long time no visit.

    Yesterday (26 October), I planted some poblano peppers; they're Mexican mild chilli peppers along with some tomatillos; they're Mexican tomatoes. But they from seed; no sprouts yet!!!

  4. Hi Jonno, Sorry for the late reply. Those are rather interesting plants you're trying to grow. I like the look of chilli peppers but I don't eat them myself – too hot and spicy.

    By the way, did you receive your prize mug from Tony yet?

  5. Good morning from here in S.W. Florida-USA,

    Thats okay mate about the late reply, I knew you were busy with your garden.

    Speaking of the mug, yea I did; you did an awesome job in creating it!!

    Hope you have a great weekend since its only Thursday here.

  6. It's mostly the weekends when I spend any real time in the garden.
    It's starting to get quite warm here now, Summer's just around the corner, everything's growing like topsy.

    Speaking of weekends, it's late Friday afternoon here. I think that qualifies as the start of the weekend – time to go and check the garden...

  7. Seasol is a seaweed (& I think fish) based liquid fertiliser