Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Wheelie bin Compost bins
I just received two Black wheelie bins from Australian Waste Management. They are selling them for about $44 each brand new - you have to add $35 for delivery which I thought was reasonable. If you buy them brand new, you can choose the color and I wanted black. Because Black is Beautiful - and also the right color for compost bins.
Its cheaper if you buy the seconds or the used bins -but you don't get a choice of colors, just what is available on stock.
My local hardware store is selling them for $90 each - not including delivery.
My plan is to use them to make "compost tea", a weed and seed killer. :D
My garden has tons of weeds now. Throwing them into the traditional compost bins helps to kill some of the seeds - but enough of them survive the composting process and will germinate when I use the compost in my garden.
The end result - more weeds.
I really hate weeds. And because of their hardy nature - we end up throwing them away in the council garden trash bins. Which is a pity because we're throwing away a lot of good nutrients and also soil trapped in the weeds. Sometimes we get so many weeds that we run out of space in the compost bins and council bins to dispose of them. The feeling of being overwhelmed by weeds is pretty horrible - probably much the same as that sinking feeling the British colonial troops had when they were being overrun by Zulu imps. haha.
Enter the "compost tea" bin. What you do is to throw the weeds, seeds and all into the bin - then fill it with grey water, rain water etc... After 3 months, everything in the bins rots and turns into putrid waste, hopefully including the blasted clover seeds.
Because of the foul smell, you had better place the bins in a corner of the garden which is secluded. If the smell does really bother you I guess you could gladwrap the opening.
I'm placing them near my traditional compost bins for easy access.
Some people have recommended using a plastic bag to hold the weeds and water - that might be good for small gardens but for bigger gardens like mine I think I'd prefer something more robust.
Size matters!! I chose a smaller size 140litres instead of the 240litres for easy handling. The 240 litre bins once full or even partially full would be very hard to move around. Trying to scoop out the waste of the larger bin would also be problematic; I don't wish to risk falling inside the darn thing!!!
I actually wanted the larger bin because size for size, it was cheaper. But if it may prove to be a hassle to use, what's the point? The tool has to fit the job.
You can use the waste water, diluted of course, and pour it on your garden. Don't use it indoors because of the odor. I think I'll probably just add it to my aerobic bins and open compost bins.
In case you are wondering I have a fairly large garden for a surburan home, roughly about 2,000 sq feet.
I have two council garden waste bins. (330litres),
two aerobic "darlek" type of bins (800litres),
one open compost bins (probably 2000 litres if filled to capacity),
and now two 140litre black wheelie bins which I intend to use as compost tea bins.
Somehow it feels like Christmas!!!
(update1: I removed the dead weeds in the container - and it stank like raw sewage - see explanation in the following post)
I finally managed to take out the waste from one of the bins - I threw most of it into one of the dalak bins and the rest I diluted and spread it onto my garden. The tomato plant seems to like it. Looks like most of the seeds are dead but its a bit hard to say until after we experience one whole year.
I found that I had to modify the hose section of the Bunnings plastic watering containers- drilling them out to make them bigger, too much crud was getting stuck.
It still stinks alright. But after a couple of days the smell goes away.
I highly recommend using old clothes and full length rubber gloves and a hat when handling the crap.
Postscript - 23 April 2013
Its been over 2 years since I started the project and to that I've added 2 more black bins.
The good news is that it seems most of the weed seeds do get taken out by soaking them in water for over 1 - 2 years. The bad news is that it looks like some of the very small oxalis bulbs are actually surviving the process. I checked on my number 2 bin - emptying out the contents - and to my horror I found small little oxalis bulbs floating on the surface. I'm not sure whether they were introduced earlier in the season - as I have not been very stringent in making sure that no new weeds get reintroduced into the brewing cycle once started.
I think a good solution would be to apply the tea to areas of the garden where it would be easy to control the oxalis should it grow from bulb again.
Other solutions please look here:
The other thing that I should mention is that if too much heavy material - esp. weeded soil - gets added to the bins - this could cause the material to not compact. In other words the tea becomes too dense - more cake than tea. This makes it extremely difficult and dangerous to try and move the bins around - they are simply too heavy and could pose a danger to the gardener.
Another solution to preventing the weed seeds from germinating is to sieve it out. You get a pail - cut a hole - you place an old tee shirt to act as a sieve - and pour the crap from the bins into that pail. The waste water will leak out - just place it in the area of garden that you want to fertilize and leave it there. Dilute the mix with water if you think the brew is too strong.