Aussies Living Simply

Exploring The Compost Pile "Myth".

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #257879

    Do you really need separate compost piles?

    A few years ago I gave the compost pile the heave ho and started in-situ vermi-composting. In other words I just empty the kitchen scraps, garden “waste”, and any lawn clippings direct onto open soil, fork it in and let nature do the rest. The worms love it and I am seeing really good results.

    Its really just mimicking how nature has dealt with seasonal growth and die back for ever. In some spots I will add different plant matter, for example Marigold cuttings for tomatoes, high nitrogen “waste” for lettuce etc, high potassium “waste” for flowering veg, as well as different manures for different plants for example horse poo for beetroot & corn, chook poo for leafies etc.

    The only “disadvantage” so far is the explosion in volunteer veggies and this week I have tomatoes, lettuce, corn, pumpkins & potatoes all popping up – hardly a problem as it indicates whats starting to germinate as spring inches closer and free seedlings.

    Has any one done/seen this? Any comments most welcome. Have a good one.


    I think it’s a good idea Porgey. My Dad composts that way. He also has some interesting volunteers pop up as a result. He had a kangaroo apple one year – turns out that it’s used as a rootstock for some grafted eggplants etc. I think it works well for people who have the space to bury their scraps and leave them to fester for a while – perhaps not so useful when you don’t have a burial site/s available 😀

    I’ve also seen people use a buried bucket in a similar fashion as a bit of an ‘in-ground worm farm’. A bucket with holes drilled into it is buried until the top is flush with the ground and then covered with a lid. You can then fill it up and worms can come in and out.


    Hi Bel, thanks for your comments. The volunteers have gone beautifully so far but most are a tad early and suffering in this chill. Space is certainly an issue and I am fortunate to have quite a bit.

    Great idea about the buried bucket may give that a try.

    Do you see any problems?


    I can’t see too many problems at all Porgey, apart from available space. Perhaps vermin digging up scraps might be another issue – probably less of an issue in the suburbs though. As long as you don’t bury too much in the one spot, then smell shouldn’t be a problem either. I think most people make composting too hard in general – ratios of wet/dry and all that palaver. We chuck everything into our compost bins, whenever it’s available. Whenever I think it’s ‘done’, I empty it all out and chuck back in anything that could do with another round. Yes, I do get mice in the compost and it’s probably not very ‘hot’, but I always have plenty of compost on hand and don’t have the stress of worrying about ingredients and ratios. An over-abundance of volunteer seedlings can be a pain, but at least they’re useful weeds and can be dug back into the ground or thrown back into a compost bin.


    Vermin can be an issue but all I have noticed is native field mice which I have no problems with – its all part of bio diversity. Volunteers have not been a nuisance but time will tell I suppose. Things that take ages to break down, corn stalks, avo stones etc are an issue but I have a “Lignin” pile that I use to grow BOBs over in summer whilst it takes a couple of years to breakdown but the rest I just keep digging in.


    I dig a hole and dump mine is as I can never get enough at one time to make a big enough pile to hot compost. If you have lot’s of worms it doesn’t take that long for it to brake down and if you have thick stuff like broccoli plants just hit it with a sledge hammer to brake it up problem solved. You do end up with a lot of volunteer plants though.


    Thanks Iduna. I sometimes have enough for hot composting but I dont see the point in having a separate compost pile that you have to turn periodically then move and spread leaving behind the best soil underneath the compost. Many moons ago DDDad planted a much neglected Granny Smith apple that has never been fertilised except for fruit & leaf fall and bird poop from the foraging birds and it always produces good fruit – nature has all the answers.


    When we moved to the house we live in 3.5 years ago, the garden beds were solid clay with a smattering of builders sand and topped with either scoria or bark mulch. It was a 7yr old house in a new estate – no topsoil left whatsoever. Any plants (mostly ornamentals eg roses) had just whatever soil was in the pot they were transplanted from around the roots. We spent close to 2 years burying all our compost, topping most buckets with a heap of torn up newspapers or shredded paper along with any manures hanging about (like pelletized chook poo) and in the beginning, handfuls of gypsum. Then we got a dog and could no longer bury inside the yard, so I moved out to the front yard and established a herb garden and 2 verge gardens with the same method. It has been very successful for me, I’ve never seen any extra mice / vermin holes near where I’ve buried scraps and certainly don’t have heaps of mice etc around – tho that could be the dog keeping them away too. Whenever I do some weeding, there are always heaps of worms, and I actually have soil now! I tied together 3 pallets butted up against my shed wall and use that space for large items like shrub prunings, corn stalks, parsley and rocket stalks after they’ve gone to seed etc as well as any lawn clippings (not much as it’s only about 2 x 6 metres!) and torn up newspaper every once in a while.

    I also get heaps of volunteers! I’ve had about 5 avocados come up, tomatoes, pumpkin, potatoes, mostly useful things that get moved to a better spot.

    A friend of my s-i-l has a small compost bin that she moves around her yard, mostly under her fruit trees, adding compost and letting it break down, then spreading it out around the root zone and covering with mulch. The trees get a good feed a couple times a year this way.

    Hot composting is great when you’ve got bulk amounts of manure, grass clippings and dry mulch like pea straw. I like the Linda Woodrow method and can have fantastic compost in 3 weeks if I’ve got the right ingredients. It’s no good for composting food scraps IMO.


    I have about 5 of the black plastic compost bins around the place of differing sizes and designs.

    The worst ones I would have to say are the square bolt together ones, not sure if it is the square shape or has too much ventilation holes and things just tend to dry out.

    The best ones are the large round ones made from thick plastic these seem to be able to be filled to the brim and within a week they are half empty again.

    My method is like Bel’s, chuck as much in as it becomes available, mostly weeds, with a bit of kitchen scraps, and when I remember (not often) use the compost screw thing to give it a turn.

    I also got given a tumbleweed for my birthday last year, which worked really well over summer, but over winter it has tended to get a bit too wet, and I have had to add a fair bit of dry material to try to get it to move away from a sticky sludgy mess back to compost.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.