How to get the most out of your compost bin
Composting bins are a relatively new invention in the world of composting but in reality composting has been going on for millions of years. The fact that composting is a natural process should make it relatively easy but way that natural compost and humus rich soil is very different from a compost bin.
In nature dead plants, animals, leaves and trees fall to the ground and start to decompose slowly spread out across a relatively large area and in a relatively thin layer on the soil surface. This thin mulch like layer of decomposing material is turned over my animals exposed to wind and kept moist by seasonal rains. It has to be said that nature provides the best way to produce compost. This concept is very simple but the possible pit falls arise when we try to compost a lot of material all at once in one area.
Compost bins are a very useful way of making compost in a compact area that is convenient to most suburban gardeners but the simple problem they do not replicate nature very well. Compost bins are a great way to produce compost but there are steps you must take in order to allow them to function at their best.
Firstly compost bins are designed to be filled slowly overtime with organic matter at the bottom slowly decomposing to be harvested from the door at the bottom. This system is ideal for the average modern family kitchen. Due to most compost bins being tall and narrow it is very important you balance your green and brown materials evenly so that they have a chance of decomposing together harmoniously. Greens are soft vegetative materials high in nitrogen such as fruit vegetables and grass clippings. Brown materials are course harder materials such as paper, cardboard, leaves and twigs.
When filling you compost bin it is important to shred woody particles down to at least half a centimetre with or it will take much longer to break down. A good tip here is if you are adding bulkier woody materials use a chipper or buy a robust petrol lawn mower with a shredding function before adding to the compost bin. In a perfect world you would have three compost bins so you can have a continuous supply of good quality compost and by having the extra capacity prompts you to go out of your way to recycle green waste. I have a three compost bin system I use, when one 220 litre bin is full I empty it out, mix it up with a long handled shovel and fill the second bin. I repeat the process until the third bin is full and one hundred per cent of the time the finished third bin is full with rich, dark, perfect compost.
Be sure to position your compost bin somewhere it gets full sun so the contents warms up even on cold days to get the microorganisms active. And break down the organic matter. Make sure you do not place the compost bin on top of a paved or concrete surface. This will make it hard for the compost to reach the correct moisture content and maintain an natural decomposition environment. Try to place your compost bin on top of soil so it has access to bacteria, microbes and fungi already within the soil so the compost making process has more chance of success.
The closest you position your compost bin to the kitchen or source of your green waste the more chance you will have of using it for all your green recycling. It is very useful to have a mini compost bin in your kitchen to fill with tea bags and vegetable matter to stop the temptation of throwing these into the regular waste bin.