This could get icky

Posted on January 25, 2010

When you move from a tiny city block to a sprawling country one – not acreage or anything, just a good-sized, old-fashioned yard – there are a few things you feel you must have. One of these is a compost bin.

My Dad has always done compost. I have not-very-fond childhood memories of making my way down to the very far corner of the backyard, under the jacarandah with the swooping magpie, to throw a bucket of festering scraps into the malodorous heap. He assures me it never smelled, that it was just my overactive imagination, but I those little fruit flies still haunt my dreams, so I’m thinking we have a, ahem, difference of opinion going on.

All that aside, and with Green on my side, I knew the time had come. Fortunately, the Council in this area is very pro-active and put on a series of workshops on how to make compost. I know what you’re thinking, how hard can it be to chuck a few scraps in a bin? I thought so too, until I was introduced to the science of it all.

I went under sufferance – and because they were giving away free compost bins that reminded me of Dr Who’s Dialek’s (only black) and kitchen tidies in tasteful shades of cream and beige. But the guys who took the class were SO enthusiastic and informative, that I came home a complete convert. To the point, where The Builder was referring to the bin as my ‘new best friend’ for several weeks after – watching in amusement as I cut up choice titbits for its delectation.

I have to admit that six or so months later, some of the glow has worn off my relationship with the bin. It just didn’t do what it was supposed to do. I followed the instructions to the letter – one part green waste (nitrogen) to three parts carbon (think paper, dead leaves etc). I aerated. I watered when I thought it was necessary. And still no HEAT. Heat which is necessary to actually turn the scraps and muck into useable compost.

So I did what any sensible girl would do. I told the bin that things had to change. I shook things up. I put in more nitrogen. I stirred up the bottom layers. I moved the thing from its picturesque setting under the honeysuckle to a much more practical spot by the garage. And now I’m waiting.

I’m giving the bin some space to make up its mind about whether it wants our relationship to work out. I’m biding my time.

And, in the meantime, I’m sending my oldest son out to feed it on a regular basis.

Creating a whole new generation of sweet childhood memories.



  1. Adina West

    Congrats on your third anniversary Allison! Blog commenting is something I’ve had to reluctantly consign to the impossibly time consuming pile, but I lurk around the fringes occasionally and I’m still in awe of your blog. It’s one heck of a business card!

    I’m moved to ask, three years on, did you get the hang of the compost thing? ‘Cos I have two compost bins, one of those rotating ones and a conventional stick-scraps-in-the-top one, and neither have ever generated enough heat to warm a mosquito. I KNOW I’m not doing it right, but wondered if such a thing is even possible when one diligently follows instructions?

    I still do compost my scraps though. I just put up with the fact that my turnaround time is closer to a couple of years rather than a few months…

    Here’s to some HEAT dammit!


    • allison tait

      Thanks Adina – hilarious! I managed to get a good bit of business going at the Fibro, but when we moved to The Old Girl in June I had to leave all that goodness behind. Now I’m back at square one and … no heat.

  2. Diminishing Lucy

    Thanks for sharing this one Al.

    The lovely husband is a compost enthusiast of mega proportions.

    I once put a teabag in the normal bin and he was horrified.

    So I now religiously compost everything. (And pay the kids 10c for taking the compost bin out to the Darleks.)

    Does your council provide the compostable bags? They are made form cornstarch or similar. They resolve the fruit fly issue splendidly.

    And I shred all the kids crap(works of art) for the compost heap too…

    Oh my. I realise I am turning into a keen composter myself…

  3. Adina West

    Just discovered your blog, and being a contrary sort, I’ve been enjoying poking through some of your earliest posts (though I was a bit disconcerted to find a whole bunch of visitors who’d come back and commented a year after the fact. Normally I have the first month all to myself!)

    Very much enjoying your evergreen style, and your six-day-a-week blogging work ethic has me in awe.

    We also share an agent. How could I not follow?


Pin It on Pinterest