How to Guide

Compost

Worm Farming

Bokashi

Compost

Getting started for Composting

  1. Visit Compost Community to claim your discounted compost bin
  2. Pick a spot in your garden suitable for a compost bin. A place where the bin can sit directly on the ground will work best as this allows worms and other visitors to enter your compost bin and help with the process
  3. Add a layer of garden materials, such as dried sticks and leaves, or some shredded newspaper to the bottom of the bin
  4. Start adding your food scraps and garden materials in layers. After each addition of food scraps, cover it with some garden materials or a sprinkling of dirt to deter ants
  5. Each week stir your compost with a garden fork or shovel to aerate the mixture. Adding air to your compost will stop it getting smelly
  6. Once the mixture starts to look like a dark, crumbly soil it is ready to be taken out and used in the garden.

What can go in the compost?

Compost bins need a mixture of wet and dry ingredients to keep them work efficiently. To get the balance of these materials right the moisture content of your compost should be like a wrung-out sponge - damp but not too wet.

Wet Ingredients

  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • tea bags and coffee grounds
  • egg shells
  • tree prunings
  • grass clippings
  • weeds - without seeds
  • hair and vacuum cleaner dust

Dry Ingredients

  • dry branches and leaves
  • straw
  • newspaper
  • torn up cardboard and newspaper

Other Useful Ingredients

  • garden lime
  • soil
  • blood and bone
  • manure - in moderation 

    Leave out:

  • Large amounts of meat, pasta, rice and bread that may attract pests

Trouble Shooting

Smelly Compost

Not enough air or the compost is too wet. Turn your compost regularly, about once a week, to ensure there is enough air to keep your compost working. If your compost is too wet or there are not enough dry ingredients then it will lose air pockets and become slow and smelly. Add some dry ingredients such as torn up newspaper or dry leaves.

Slow Compost
Not enough air. Turn your compost regularly, about once a week, and add active ingredients, such as manure.

Vinegar Flies
Too acidic. Add a sprinkle of lime or wood ash to reduce acidity.

Maggots in Compost
Maggots are attracted to animal fats. Remove the source of the animal fats, such as meat or oil, and sprinkle with lime or soil.

Rats and/or Mice in Compost
Too dry or too many grains in the compost. Add more wet ingredients and reduce any grain products that may act as a food source for rats and mice. Attach chicken wire to the bottom of compost bin to prevent mice burrowing in.

Harvesting your Compost

Your compost is finished when there are no large woody pieces visible - this may take several months, particularly when you first get started. To harvest your compost remove your bin from the pile and set down next to pile. Spread ready compost over garden beds. Shovel all unfinished compost back into bin to continue processing.

Worm Farming

Getting your worm farm started

  1. Visit Compost Community to claim your discounted worm farm
  2. Follow the instructions in your worm farm to put the farm together. You should only need two trays when you are starting, the liquid collection tray and one working tray. Put the others away until the worm farm is more established
  3. Use a sheet of newspaper to line the first tray of the worm farm. This will keep the worms in the top layer and stop them falling in to the liquid collection tray.
  4. Spread your worms out over the newspaper. The worms should have enough bedding material to live in. If not, you will need to add some compost or coconut fibre for the worms to establish themselves in.
  5. Cover the worms with some more newspaper and wet the newspaper. The newspaper will need to stay wet at all times. Once the newspaper starts to break down add some more - the newspaper should act like a blanket that is always on top of the worms protecting them from escaping and insulating them against the weather.
  6. To feed the worms lift the newspaper blanket and add the food directly on top of the bedding material, then cover again with the newspaper. The newspaper will allow the worms to come to the surface to eat without drying out or being exposed to light.
  7. Keep an eye on the liquid collection tray and empty when it starts to fill up. The worm tea is a nutrient rich fertiliser for your garden. Dilute it 1:10 with water, it should look like the colour of weak tea, and you're ready to use it on your garden. To store it place it in an airtight container in a dark place away from the sun.
  8. Once the worms start to build up their castings you can also use these in the garden. To harvest the castings take out a handful (make sure you leave enough for the worms to live in) and place the pile on a tarp in the sun. The worms will naturally migrate in to the centre of the pile to get away from the light. This will allow you to scrape away the outside of the castings to leave a smaller pile. Repeat several times so that you have a small pile with worms and the remainder of the castings are worm free, ready for you to use in the garden. This will mean you can use your castings in the garden without sacrificing your worm population!

What do worms like to eat?

  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • tea bags, leaves and coffee grounds
  • small amounts of paper towel
  • small amounts of bread
  • egg shells

Leave out: 

  • Large amounts of citrus, pineapple and onion (small amounts are okay)
  • Meat and dairy that may cause bad smells, maggots and mould

Facts about worms:

  • there are 3 types of compost worm in your worm farm: Red Wrigglers, Indian Blues and Tiger Worms
  • compost worm, originally from South America, differ from our native earthworms
  • worms have no eyes or ears, however they can sense light and vibrations
  • compost worms can eat half their own body weight in food every day
  • worms will die if you cut them in half.

Keeping your worms happy

Moisture/Drainage
Your worm farm should have the moisture content of a wrung out sponge. Too wet and the worms will drown or the farm will become smelly. Too dry and the farm will become slow and the worms may die.

Food
The worms in your worm farm are a compost worm, chosen specifically for their ability to eat food scraps and to thrive in the conditions of a worm farm. Provide a variety of food for them to choose from. Worms don't like citrus or meat products; please keep these items out of the worm farm.

Temperature
Worms ideally like to be between 18 and 24oC. To buffer them from extreme temperatures as much as possible place a layer of wet newspaper or hessian over the top of the food layer at all times find them a shady spot or move them inside on hot day. If it’s really hot,put a frozen water bottle, an ice pack or ice blocks in one corner of the top tray, allowing the worms room to move closer or away from the ice to regulate their temperature. You could also freeze your food scraps to cool your worms. 

Air
The worms need to breathe air, so place your worm farm in a place where it will receive good air flow.

Acidity
If the farm becomes too acidic it will become smelly and attract lots of vinegar flies. If this happens dissolve some garden lime in water and pour over the top of the food layer.

Bokashi

Bokashi is the process of fermenting food to change the internal structure of food before it composts. This makes the composting process much faster than traditional methods. A Bokashi system works very differently than a compost because it works without air. The food in the bin will continue to look like food and will not start to decompose until it is buried in the garden.Working without air means that there shouldn’t be any smells when  the Bokashi bucket is sealed so it can be kept in the kitchen to make it convenient to use each day. Once the bin is full the food is then emptied in to a hole in the garden to finish composting in to soil. And the best thing? It can take all food including dairy, meat, citrus and cooked foods!

Getting your Bokashi started

  1. Visit Compost Community to claim your discounted Bokashi bin
  2. Follow the instructions in the Bokashi bin to put the bucket together
  3. Find a spot in your kitchen or somewhere away from direct sunlight to store your Bokashi
  4. Spray  some of the enzyme spray on to the drainage plate before you start adding food
  5. At the end of each day, squash down the food to push out any air pockets and add another spray of the enzyme spray. Ensure the lid is closed tightly between uses. If air gets in to the bucket it will not work correctly and may start smelling
  6. Drain the liquid off once or twice a week. The liquid is safe to pour down the sink and will help keep your drains clear. Alternatively you can use it as a fertiliser in the garden. Dilute it 1:100 with water for a fertiliser or 1:1000 for foliage spray
  7. Once the bin is full the food needs to be buried in soil to complete the composting process in to a soil product.

Updated : 11:33 AM, 2 March 2020

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