Compost bins are a good choice for people with large yards as they can handle greater volumes of organic waste. However, they do require maintenance. Material in compost bins should be turned regularly to maintain air flow. This will help the micro-organisms to break down material faster.
Compost requires a balance of inputs to ensure the organic matter breaks down effectively. It needs a balance of:
- Carbon - dry leaves, straw, paper, sawdust, shredded branches, dry grass
- Nitrogen - Food scraps, fresh grass, manures, blood and bone, seaweed, comfrey, lucerne
- Oxygen - introduced by turning the heap once a week while the material is new
- Water - to keep the heap moist and covered
- Correct size of particles and heap (small particles, large heap)
Compost bins are available in a range of shapes and sizes from online retailers and hardware stores. Further Information:
Bokashi bins are ideal for smaller apartments or units, as they conveniently can be kept inside. This system can handle smaller volumes of kitchen waste, including scraps that generally can't go into a compost bin like meat and dairy. The system uses a process of fermentation (aided by the 'bokashi mix' sprinkled over layers of kitchen scraps) and results in 'bokashi juice' that can be diluted and added to your garden or indoor pot plants.
Bokashi bins also produce solid 'bokashi waste', which can be buried in your garden or added to a conventional compost heap where a complete breakdown of the waste occurs. If you don't have access to a garden, that's okay! Many community gardens are happy to accept this solid waste in their compost heaps. Check with your closest community garden by visiting the Darebin Food Harvest Network website for contact details.
Worm farms are a great option for people with smaller yards or balconies. With your worm farm you can produce rich soil (castings) and liquid fertiliser (worm juice) in a small area. Worm farming uses selected worms (typically Tiger Worms, Red Wrigglers and Indian Blues) to break down kitchen and garden scraps.
- Choose a cool shaded spot for your worm farm.
- Add composting worms, such as Tigers, Reds and Blues to your worm farm as they live, work and breed well in the rich, moist, organic environment of your worm farm.
- Keep your worm farm moist, warm and protected from the hot summer sun
- If possible, shred kitchen and garden waste into smaller pieces
- Cover the worms with a small black plastic sheet in cool weather. In hot weather a damped hessian, newspaper is more desirable.
- Always replace the lid
- Castings can be placed in the garden around plants, in pot plants, around fruit trees, native trees and vegetables.
What you can put in your worm farm?
- Fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings
- Plate scrapings (cooked vegetables, pasta, rice, cheese, stewed fruit, etc).
- Hair clippings
- Shredded, soaked newspaper and cardboard
- Vacuum cleaner dust
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
Coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen and are a great addition to your compost as well. Add together with your kitchen scraps and make sure you layer with about one third carbon based materials such as dried leaves or clean wood shavings. Coffee grounds also make good worm food. Some people like to add coffee grounds directly to their garden as fertiliser. They can also be sprinkled around seedlings to deter slugs and snails.
The purpose of mulch is to conserve water, improve the health and fertility of the soil and to reduce weeds.
- Mulch adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil and reduces your watering needs
- Mulch also helps keep your garden weed free by preventing weed seeds from contacting soil
- Apply layers of mulch up to 8cm deep after winter rains to retain moisture in soil
- It is environmentally preferable to use mulch containing coarse particles of wood, leaves or straw which have been recycled rather than pebbles
- Keep mulch away from tree trunks and plant stems to prevent rot
- Unless the mulch is rich in nitrogen (for example, Green Lucerne) it may be necessary to add some nitrogen such as blood and bone to your soil. Most mulch will take up nitrogen as it decomposes
Where can I purchase these products?
Compost bins, worm farms and Bokashi bins are widely available online and from select retailers like hardware, garden supply and sustainability stores.
A limited number of worm farms and compost aerators* are still available from our Customer Service Centres in Northcote, Reservoir and Preston.
Worm farm small (colour) $65
Worm farm large (black) $75
Compost aerators $15
All prices include GST.
*Compost aerators can be used for your home compost bin. Please note, we no longer sell compost bins at our Customer Service Centres.