The veggie patch: feeding a compost addiction

“I can’t live without a compost bin!” That was me, putting my foot down in the back garden when I was told the compost bin had to go. Some girls can’t live without pedicures, new shoes, or chocolate. I can’t live without a compost bin. Go figure.

He was right, however. The compost bin had to go. It had served us well for over a decade but the black plastic was falling apart, in some places it’d been gnawed apart as rats moved in for a nightly wallow in our rotting waste. The rascals were strewing egg shells, leathered avocado skins, and newspaper remnants across the garden each morning when their debauch compost bin binge was over and they decided — dawn-dazed and gorged — that it was time to go home.

Besides, it was no longer doing its job. In our previous postage stamp-sized back yard the compost bin had been at the peak of its game. My other half converted a larger compost bin into a smaller compost bin to suit our compact lifestyle and the compost had thrived.

There was no special trick: I did my thing — cooked meals from scratch, regularly, which created heaps of vegetable peelings and uncooked scraps — and the bin did its thing. There was no layering, turning, or ventilating involved. After years of practice we were symbiotically in tune. Two or three times a year i’d turf out, and transport, bucket loads of rich compost to the veggie patch. The patch flourished. Everyone one was happy.

Then we moved house and the compost bin decided to throw in the trowel. I’m not sure what it disliked about its new digs — lack of shade, perhaps, or an inferior soil base — but even the cranky old cat was more accepting of his new surrounds.

My point about not being able to live without a compost bin was that we used it daily — it fed a bit of an addiction. It had to be replaced, not trashed. I put it on my to-do list. On a Friday night a few weeks later, after my partner had subtly left a leaflet on a particular brand of bin on my desk, I updated my weekend to-do list: ‘Make a decision about a new compost bin’.

Thankfully he made the decision for me. When I got out of bed the next morning, he was just returning from the garden centre with a brand spanking new bin. I conscientiously updated my to-do list: “Construct new compost bin”. Thankfully he did that for me, too.

So we now have a new compost bin. It’s square where the last one was oval, and tall where the last one was stout, and it has an internal ventilation shaft where its predecessor had none. It even has a “leachate reservoir” at the bottom with a tap to collect liquid fertiliser that can be diluted and watered onto beds.

I keep lifting the lid and taking a peek: there’s natural condensation on the internal, insulated, walls (which never happened with the last draughty bin, even when it was in full swing) and it smells a bit whiffy, in a good way. Everything is healthily rotting. It keeps the smell in and the rats out.

It looks the part, but will it do the job? The proof will be in the pudding — or the compost.

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28 Comments

Filed under The Veggie Patch

28 responses to “The veggie patch: feeding a compost addiction

  1. Glad that you have a new compost bin. Hope it does the job well!

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  2. I understand well as I take home scraps for my bin when friends or family are about to put them in rubbish. I think that a compost bin is the first task in a new garden so that by the time the new beds are ready to be planted there is rich compost to be added.

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  3. How lucky you are to have your own compost bin! Here in Zurich, only some municipalities have communal compost bins. For a good while, we kept all of our kitchen scraps separate to the garbage and secretly dumped them in the compost bin owned by one of the large companies down the road. Whilst we were doing a good deed for the environment, I had a guilty conscience of a different kind each time I took out the compost! I really hope we will find a good solution soon …

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    • What a shame you have to share compost bins. It’s so much easier to run out into your backyard and throw a handful of vegetable peelings in the compost. It’s an integral part of our household!

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  4. Here in Valencia, Spain we also have compost bins. We also use them to throw what is left in our cooking holidays.

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  5. two engaging goldens

    I have four wooden compost enclosures in various stages of decom. I dont very often turn them, just shovel the contents along when it suits. Sometimes the chookies get in and do some turning for me – not always the way I like it when they get into the best pile. 😦 Joy

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  6. Ed

    Have you tried an 18 day hot compost? I’m about to blog about it and am on my second batch. You layer up left over greens, horse poo (ideally) and straw at it’s most basic and toss every couple of days. The only issue is you need near a cubic metre of matter. We collect horse poo from the carriage depot in North Melbourne, our local council does a great line in free mulch which works a treat and then we ask a local greengrocer for offcuts – it can take a week or so to get enough but the results are amazing.
    I also use a Bokashi bucket in between big runs of compost – it’s mean great in conditioning my soil at what was one of the worst plots in our community garden.

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    • Hot composting sounds great … but it might be one for me to try at the community garden, not sure i’d get it over the line at home with the other half! I like the sound of the Bokashi bucket!

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      • Ed

        The Bokashi is good but stinky if it goes wrong.

        Another thing I do is bury a wide plastic pipe with holes drilled in it in the garden. You can buy lids for them.

        Put food scraps and worms in it and the worms drag the compost out into the soil.

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      • I think you’re what could be called a composting enthusiast! Not sure about the stinky Bokashi bin, though. I’ve just added some scraps to my bin. I love it when you lift the lid and get that warm, moist blast to the face! It’s a bit whiffy, but as i said in my post, in a good way. Happy composting!

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  7. lizzygoodthings

    Did you add a box of worms to your compost bin!?

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  8. At my old house I had three sturdy wooden bins that worked great but where I am there’s hardly room to turn around. I miss composting and that satisfaction you get from feeding the soil.

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  9. I love this post!! I’ve been hinting at my family to get me a compost bin for Mothers Day hehehe

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  10. We no longer have a compost bin at homers the council collects our food waste in special bins and then composts it for us. It’s dumped at the gates of our municipal allotment so we can all benefit. Brilliant.

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  11. am envious, FS!! i have started a compost bin – a rotating keg-like thing – after giving up for a few years of disastrous compost. i think perhaps it just doesn;t get hot enough here in hobart – my fruit and veg scraps never really broke down. anyway, i’m trying again and really green with envy over your success. i also love reading about ed’s success with the bokashi – i’ve wondered about that. must check out his blog!

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  12. Wooo to a new compost bin!
    It is on my to do list to make one (I found a tutorial out of styrofoam boxes – like the ones Lite and Easy meals come in .. and you need 4 of them.. and the only person I know who got Lite and Easy meals only got them once! So I only have one, and it’s sitting on my back verandah. Haha… whoops….!) xx

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  13. I’m so glad to hear that you haven’t had to do without! Sounds like it would have been a difficult weaning process.. 🙂

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