My compost system

It seems to be working pretty well now (at least there’s some ‘system’ to it), so I thought I’d share.

It consists of three bins formed from steel mesh panels (90 cm x 70 cm), which I bought at Bunnings (for overseas readers that’s our big-box hardware store). They come in sets of four and were about $25 when I bought them. They’re a lot cheaper and easier than making bins out of timber if you don’t have access to second-hand timber. They come with little corkscrews which you wind around, top and bottom to hold the panels together. I’ve put stakes at each corner as well:

There’s also a compost tumbler…..:

…..and a couple of worm farms under the house, where it’s cool and dark. They get all the kitchen scraps.

…..and also under the house, the composting toilet. Information and photos here.

In the first bin I put the stuff from the composting toilet. For a detailed description of how it works go here.

Every 6 weeks or so, a bin of composted material comes out of the toilet and goes into the left-hand bin of the three. To that I add a tray of worms and worm castings from the worm farm and cover the lot with mulched bracken.  The worms love it and by the time they’ve finished with it, it’s nice and friable with no smell or hint of its origins. I let it sit there for another few months until I’m ready to use it. By that time there might be 3 or 4 month’s worth of toilet compost ready to go.

The second compost bin takes the stuff from the compost tumbler. That consists of lawn clippings from a friend’s garden and the chook poo collected every couple of days from under the night roosts in the coop. All that gets tumbled until it’s too full and heavy to turn and then it’s into the second bin, again with a tray of worms from the worm farm.

The third compost bin takes all the rest of the garden greenery—weeds (no seeds) mulched prunings and bracken and…..more worms.

All three bins are kept moist and covered with plastic sheets, to prevent drying out in summer and leaching of nutrients by rain. If it looks like they’re getting too dry in summer, I give them a spray with the hose.

The compost is used to top up wicking tubs and boxes and the wire rings in the food forest where I grow more annual vegies. I can’t get enough of it. If I had more I’d use it under the fruit trees as well. I’d love to be able to make the cubic metre hot compost heap as it’s taught in permaculture, but I simply can’t amass enough materials all at once.

I make liquid fertiliser in 60 litre plastic rubbish bins by soaking weeds, comfrey, yarrow and anything else green until it rots down. There’s also a supply of worm ‘wee’ from the two worm farms and any excess liquid which is run off from the composting toilet. It’s all working pretty well and I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy bags of manure again. In effect, all the nutrients produced by the system are being continuously recycled through the system.

2 Responses to “My compost system”

  1. Frogdancer Says:

    I’m working on a similar idea but you’re a machine!!! You’ve got it all worked out.


  2. narf77 Says:

    I have been thinking about a composting loo for a while now and when we can afford to install one we will. I love how you have integrated your cycles (A+ permaculturist 😉 ) and how they are working for your situation. I remember making the good old hot cubic metre of compost but most of it was dry stuff with only a small proportion of green waste and manure to boost the heat. It was great stuff and was ready in 6 weeks and you could heat your hot water through it…indeed some bright spark had once set up a water heating system to keep the glasshouses warmed through winter but as usual, the next class could care less about sustainability and maintaining the compost system so it ceased. Let me know when you get your seeds 🙂


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