Looking for an easier way to compost?

Woy Woy Peninsula Community Garden volunteer inspects worm farm with shredded newspaper

Composting can sometimes feel like a chore, it can take months, can end up a smelly mess if done incorrectly, and then when it is finally ready you still have to move it to where your plants need it. If you’re finding composting a bit tricky, read on for a few tips on how to compost simply.

Many people we come across as part of Permaculture Central Coast and the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail have a hard time doing compost well. And there are certainly ratios, and mixtures of greens and browns, and chopping things up to the right size, whether to add manure or not. All of these things take time and practice and for many first time composters, we hear about sludgy, wet messes, problems with rodents, piles that are too dry, scary bugs appearing! Yep we hear it all!

One of our goals here at the Edible Garden Trail is to see more people growing food naturally at home. And for that, you need good soil! And for that, you need compost! And if compost is your stumbling block, we’d love to help you out by giving you some pointers to keep it simple, and get growing.

So without further ado, here are a few things you can try:

In Situ Composting

Composting can be as simple as burying your food scraps. Yes, really! Just dig a hole, pop in your scraps, cover with soil and walk away. Done!

But let’s be clever about it hey? You want to improve the soil where you are trying to grow food, so bury your scraps there. One of our lovely garden hosts on the Edible Garden Trail – Owen – uses this method very effectively in his garden – watch this 1 minute video to see Owen’s method.

Video Transcript: “My worm farm was getting way too full too quickly, I couldn’t keep up, I found a way simpler option was to, as I plant, I dig down really deep, I put in the kitchen scraps, then I put the soil back on top, then I plant over it, and then just give it a really good mulch, and I find that the plants just love it, they grow really well because the little creatures in the soil, the worms and the micro fauna find it, eat it up, and then it just turns into plant food. So if you’re getting a bit exhausted by the whole composting thing and it a bit too complicated, just dig a hole, put it in the soil and let the creatures in the soil do the rest and poop it out and turn it into great soil.”

Great work Owen and thanks so much for sharing this great tip!

Worm Towers

If you’re not keen to dig a hole every time you want to bury your scraps, another simple method you can try is a worm tower. Put the worm tower in the one of your veggie beds – you can do this in raised beds, in ground beds, even wicking beds. Take a piece of plumbers pipe or similar, drill some holes in the bottom half of it (big enough for worms to travel through), dig a hole and pop the pipe in, holes at the base, backfill with soil leaving the inside of the pipe empty, then pop in a handful of composting worms plus some of the worm castings (any friend with a worm farm will give you some) and a little bit of soil on top to keep them cool and covered. Then pop your kitchen scraps on top and cover the pipe. I use a little terracotta saucer on top of the pipe to keep it covered – this stops vermin getting in and prevents flies breeding too. Plus the little saucer can act as a water source for visiting creatures – pour a little water in the saucer and your job is done.

You can continue to put scraps in the pipe at your leisure and the worms will eat them up, wriggling in and out of the pipe, delivering beautiful worm castings (poo) to the soil around the pipe, making it readily available to the plant roots nearby. It really is that easy. Over time you’ll notice your soil and your plant growth improve, promise! Give it a go.

Woy Woy Peninsula Community Garden volunteer inspects worm farm with shredded newspaper

Ready to use products

If you’re less of a DIY person, perhaps you’d like to try a ready made product you can bury in your garden bed. The methods above achieve exactly the same result, but if you like, have a look at products like the SubPod, Composting Canon, Green Cone Solar Composter, Enso Pet Poo Composter. If you gets you composting, we’re all for it!

If it ain’t broke, no need to fix it

If you’re already making great compost with the system you use, that’s awesome! Keep it up! And keep using it in your garden! If you have other simple tips for newbie composters let us know!