I notice you mention a “garbage can of compost”. I’m new to composting. Do you literally put the compost pile in a garabage can? What size/type can do you use? I’d like to get my own compost started soon.
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In our shire, the local council subsidises compost bins in an effort to reduce garbage amounts. I bought 2 compost bins which were about AUS$20.00 each. They are huge black bins – wider at the open end, which sits on the soil and have a tight fitting lid at the other end. I suppose you could cut the bottom out of a plastic bin as a substitute. I always dig mine into the soil a bit, to prevent pests (rats, mice etc.) getting in. I have found that if they can’t smell the contents you can put seafood shells, bread etc and they don’t find it. We have 2 bins so that one is in use while the other is composting. The amount of stuff we have put in them is amazing! We have literally packed them tight by jumping up and down on the green matter and then pushed the lid on. The next day the volume has reduced by 1/4, then it just gets less and less each day. We put eveything in ours – lawn clippings, prunings, kitchen scraps, leaves – any green waste from our garden. This is ‘anaerobic’ composting, which takes longer, but is really simple. No layering, just chuck in and water every now and again. This type of composting does get a bit stinky every now and again, but with the lid on you don’t smell it at all.

When we move out to our acreage we will make up a 3 bay areobic compost heap. This is the layered compost which heats up to very high temperatures and breaks down very quickly. I saw an interesting hint on the ‘Gardening Australia’ TV show – If you make the walls of your compost bays out of straw bales, the earthworms will have somewhere to go when the compost gets too hot for them, and they will be right there to move quickly back in when the heap cools down. You can keep the bales in place by driving a star picket (metal fencing pickets) through the bales and into the soil.

Which ever method you use, keep the contents sitting on the soil so that worms and other soil organisms can get in and do their thing. Don’t just put stuff into a bin without the bottom cut off or you will end up with a foul smelling, slimey disaster!

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We are also in Australia, and I also use the same Composting Method. Yes, the Shire subsidised the bins, and they are really worthwhile. We also use piles of tractor tyres from the local tyre seller – the first tyre gets filled with compost in the same way as the bin, cover with old carpet or other heavy material while filling, then add second tyre to stack, top with soil and plant pumpkins etc into the stack – very productive. We also add lots of paper, especially bags of shredded office paper from the local Manufacturing Offices – large bags of this are available each week. We also accept grass clippings from the neighbours to add. I know that there is a feeling against using pet pooh, but if the animal is healthy and has not been wormed in the last 24 hours I add it, the compost always ends up growing something before being put round the garden anyway – so far so good!!! However, if you have just wormed your pet, the earthworms die too.