Seed Swaps

Compost bins Garden

I always had a smelly compost bin until I went to a workshop at Nambour Garden Expo by Jade Woodhouse. I then bought her book ‘Compost to make Humus’ and wow what a difference. I now have a compost bin made to her principles in the peacock enclosure and the pumpkin patch. Very proud was I of the finished product after 6 months waiting. Because I have no dig gardens I also need bulk compost and this I achieve by layering cow manure, Lucerne if I feel rich otherwise hay, mushroom compost, then Lucerne/hay and repeat. This makes a great friable worm rich compost. I also have a worm pipe in the strawberry above ground garden.

An outdoor organic garden located in Belli Park, Australia, Austrees's Compost bins garden currently contains 1 plants.

This is a Compost garden that is known to be in USDA Hardiness Zone 10. It has mainly Compost soil and receives Dappled Sun light.A reading of pH 7.0 was last taken on this garden, meaning that the soil is currently neutral soil.




Do you have to turn the pile? I noticed you said you hurt your back and wondered how you are managing these. I would like to have access to more compost (there is no such thing as too much compost!), but can no longer turn a pile.

Hopefully lucerne will be a bit cheaper this (wet) year.

Posted on 16 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

No I never turn any of the piles. May be slower but I accept that. The worms etc do the job. I made a manure/mushroom/hay pile on 1/11/11 and probably a few weeks ago I noticed worms in it, but waited and now it is so full of worms and basically nearly all broken down to black loose rich matter. So that is 4 months for this. I always add some rock minerals and some fine clay and soak all hay in molasses. If you want to know more I would really recommend to get on Jade Woodhouse’s website and order her book. The compost I make in bins according to her principles is amazing. Better than the above, but much more work, slower and smaller. I use a handful of this to plant my seedlings into the soil, but the manure compost as a broad organic soil improver. I am no expert. I am sure there may be problems, but this has been the best and most effective for me.

Posted on 16 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Forgot to add that in the bins I do add empty pipes as I layer. Maybe 2 when I first assemble it and then a couple as I go. This keeps some air in them.

Posted on 16 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Jade’s book sounds interesting (I looked at her site) and it will go on the’ birthday hints’ list. Ideas that worked for me when I was healthier all need rethinking, so all information is gratefully received. Thank you for the recommendation.

I seem to use my bins as worm farms anyway. I keep a few on the go and leave the full ones for a couple of years. However, since the bins don’t get very hot I can’t trust the result won’t have weed seeds. Feeding the possibly weedy stuff from the bins to chooks, then rebinnning until the heat of their poo is spent is what I have done in the past, but I shifted and haven’t yet built a place for hens.

Separating the wetter material for a worm bin, making piles/bins that don’t have seedy weeds and giving the weeds directly to the girls is probably the direction I need to go to eliminate yet more ‘handling’. Funny, that reads as more work, but should eliminate any heavy physical labour. Currently I use a screw sort of tool to aerate the bins, but that is very hard going and I need a cuppa and a lie down after doing just one! Again, thank you for the book recommendation.

Posted on 16 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Jades technique involves constantly adding material to normal sized bins as she says they are too small to get to the right temperature. She folds rough chopped brown and green with small chopped brown and green, rough brown/ rough green/ small brown/ small green etc. I think this keeps the heat and aeration going for a good compost bin. She has so much info in there that I can’t summarise. I find that 2bins is more than enough work for me. Really I am a lazy gardener and need things to potter along, so more chopping than that is too much for me. When I haven’t prepared my waste veges, I put them in the worm bin in the strawberry patch. We cut out the bottom of 4 13" pots, glued them together and drilled holes in them for the worms to go through and placed it in the centre of the no dig garden. Funnily enough the main things that germinate after I have spread my good compost is tomatoes and pawpaw. Good luck. If you get the chance, Nambour has the garden expo in July and I’m sure that a garden club near you would have a bus going along. So many things to,see. Permaculture Noosa has a kitchen garden there and lots of guest speakers. Cheers

Posted on 17 Mar 12 (over 7 years ago)

Just getting back onto Folia after a bit of time away. Do you have any photos of your pot bin? I can’t quite picture it

Posted on 25 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

I may be writing this twice, as I cant find my last reply. So I started this bin on 15/3/2012.This bin has lots of airholes so it is an aerobic composting method. I put in layers of very coarse brown (sticks)/very coarse green (canna), then slowly started reducing the size of the brown and green layers. About half way I am down to fine stuff. So it is layers of green fine/brown coarse/green coarse/ brown fine and repeat always ending with brown. I also put shredded paper on top of this as moisture control. If it is dry add water, if wet leave it there and put next layers on top. Ideally the paper should be damp. Check every couple of days and if there is enough room for a layer of green and brown, go for it. Keep doing this until the pile is ready. For me I get to a point where the bugs etc have become voracious and I dont keep up with it (about 6 months), so I let it sit until I can find the time to empty and start again on the same spot. Reading the compost forums here I no longer put citrus in my bins, so maybe they will take less time. I find 2 bins to be as much as I can handle in between work and the other chores.

Posted on 26 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

That is interesting, starting with coarse amd moving up to fine. I must try that and see what difference I see, thank you for the ideas.

What I am having trouble visualizing is the worm bin. Pots without bottoms glued together I get, but are the holes on the outsides of the cylinder you created and does this bin sit above or below ground?

I’ve written to Jade asking if she will be holding another compost workshop at this year’s gardenfest. If she is I will surely take it and get the book on your recommendation. If not, I’m sure to find another person there selling it. Haven’t been to Gardenfest in years, now I have a good reason. Well, possibly a reason DH might see as good ;-)

Posted on 27 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

Really enjoyed looking at your gardens. Certainly I wish my place was as today’s yours is. Your no dig gardens look great. Can you tell me more of the logs in the system as I am about to fill 3 large old tank segments and it will take a lot of mulch?
When I decided to make the dog run a garden, I had a small circular garden in it. After 12 months I thought I’d put an old tank cut in half on it and place a worm tower in the middle. Then I filled the layers around it. First year everything was great, but when I refilled in January I must have made a bad batch. I used mulched coco palm leaves as my brown instead of hay and the cow and mushroom compost was without the chook poo that was in the first batch. I think my pH might be too high at 7 for strawberries and chives.
The worm tower is just 4 old 12" pots which I had cut the bottoms out of and drilled with holes to let in air and worms. Any lid would do, but I like my heavy lid. My husband mainly uses this bin when he cleans the kitchen bench, as I am not fussy about the layering. When I know he has put stuff in, I cover with brown, normally shredded paper.
The ceramic pots are ‘wetpots’ and with the reservoir system keep the garden very moist. Maybe also the problem with our current wet weather. It was great for about 6 months but our dam water although filtered must still have had too much sediment and the pots became blocked. I have now cleaned them and will see how long this lasts. I am also using rainwater now. I think it is too expensive for a large tank system. How do you water your above ground gardens?
I will be looking at your gardens with interest. They look great.

Posted on 28 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

Thank you Austrees, it has been a very long wait until I could leave off the house stuff and start on the garden in this new place. I have only the one raised bed that needs water and I use a hose (tank water). We are very fortunate up here, in some ways. Roses hate it, but Mount Lofty is often foggy which saves the need to water as often. Condensation from the overnight low flying cloud is often such that I can hear the water trickling down the downpipes from the roof.

Unfortunately we are very exposed and there is no room to plant dedicated windbreak trees, so the fruit trees chosen are all reasonably tough, except for the ones protected from Westerlies by a existing Lilly Pilly and a Sasanqua.

Wet pots intrigue me, but I thought they were always buried? I first read about buried unglazed ceramic pots being used in places like the Middle East and India , where they are even used in rooftop gardens. It saves having to water so frequently (hand carried) as well as reducing evaporation. I have asked a friend who is a school teacher to save for me any unglazed pots that are not collected by the children doing ceramics. I also use their bottomless (broken) pots as plant guards, so they are a good resource. I can’t see how the ceramic wouldn’t become clogged eventually, so maybe it is a routine part of maintenance. I imagine very sandy soils would have less blockage?

The beds have been filled with all sorts of things, but I have managed to get enough woody waste for the bottom layer of four of them. Sort of like Hugelkultur but with sides, or Hugelkultur x Lasagne Gardening. The idea is that the wood will become a big sponge and deep rooting plants will thrive on reduced watering. It should take a year or so for the wood to start breaking down and becoming absorbent. It is supposedly imitating what happens when a tree falls and is covered with more leaves and blown in soil etc. New things take root on top and as the underneath starts to slowly decay, deeper rooted plants and eventually trees make the mound their home. A higher mound would be better, but not really practical in my tiny yard. Here is the link to a description of what I did with the first one:

I plan to have the sunny sides of all the raised beds protected by plants and have a nice little collection of things, just waiting for me to find time. Having the sides protected from heat should help with reducing water use and plant stress.

Filling the raised beds, I am being fairly careful about tightly packing the tubers bed and the future asparagus bed but a bit more slapdash with the others, figuring that if the levels sink it will not be a problem topping up between seasons of annuals. Looking outside yesterday I discovered I have been all together too slapdash! One bed has Indian Shot Cannas starting to poke their heads up. It had settled quite a lot and I guess that too much of the topsoil worked it’s way down, leaving the last green trash layer too near the surface. Ah well, live and learn.

I have enjoyed looking through your gardens too. I envy how much space you have! People tell me I am mad to think about a large garden with health issues, but I don’t think they realise how much extra work it is keeping everything pruned to fit a small space. Full sized trees and shrubs allowed to stretch would be wonderful. Never mind, it is an interesting challenge trying to work around size constraints and I can enjoy so many different sorts of gardens vicariously on Folia.

Posted on 28 Apr 12 (about 7 years ago)

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