post Easy Hot Compost

April 17th, 2008

Filed under: Greening Copley — newseditor @ 12:47 pm

If you’re keen to get some veges growing you’ll need some rich soil. A quick way to make some is by creating a hot compost. Within a month you’ll have living, organic compost to turn into your soil mix. It’s easy:


You’ll need to collect:

Pile of greens: grass clippings (haha), green leaf matter (eg. pumpkin vines, prunings, salad greens, banana leaves, onion weeds, patterson’s curse, soap bush etc – but it’s probably best to stay away from the cooch-like weeds and plants with heavy burrs like three-cornered jacks). If your pumpkins or melons are just about finished, it’s a good time to collect all of your materials.
Bale of straw: pea straw is available from Brenton Harris in Leigh Creek for about $8, or you can use hay from Packsaddle for about $13.

Pile of poo: pidgeon, chicken, goat, sheep, horse – there are plenty to choose from around town. Try to avoid horse poo if the horses have recently been wormed as it can inhibit the micro-organisms that grow in the compost.

Bundle of sticks: solid sticks, perhaps even one stake for poking holes.

A cover: an old blanket or some hessian, shadecloth etc.

A water source: put your compost heap in reach of a hose.

1. Put a layer of sticks on the ground to provide aeration.

2. Layer your straw, green and poo, fully soaking each layer as you go. Think lasagne! Tip: soak the poo in a wheelbarrow first. Aim for a big heap – at least 1m x 1m

3. With a stake or a stick, poke aeration holes into the sides of your heap.

4. Put your cover over the heap to stop it from drying out and losing heat. Hose it down.

5. Check after 24 hours – if you put your hand into the compost heap you should feel that is quite hot.

6. Keep the heap moist by hosing it each day.

7. Turn the pile after 7 days, 11 days after that, 2 weeks after that.

And that’s it! Rich, organic compost for your fruit trees and vege gardens! For new garden beds, mix it with soil – you can get a trailer load from Brenton Harris for $35.


  1. Lovely drawing of a hot spot compost pile. Rudolf Steiner says to locate the ‘hot compost spot’ within the vicinity of a tree and the energy vortexing from the mound as it does it thing will invigorate and flourish the energy field of the nearby tree.

    Comment by Nigel Carney — April 17, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  2. Works for me – the plants in the vicinity of the hot compost have had excellent growth bursts.

    Comment by newseditor — April 19, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

  3. I have a lot of shredded paper – can you put that into a compost heap or is it better to put it straight into pots etc. as a mulch?

    Comment by Rose — April 28, 2008 @ 9:54 am

  4. I think the shredded paper would be good as lasagna layers as in the hot compost heap above…especially after its wet it will act as a heat barrier and speed up the composting process as well…having said that it does make a good mulch layer as well covered with a layer of soil…the chapel centre garden has been mulched this way with soaked cardboard and required little watering…still no reports on how many melons came from that patch!!

    Comment by nigel — April 28, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  5. Thanks Nigel. I have already thrown out so much shredded paper that it’s a crying shame! Does anyone know how well those bought compost bins work? I wouldn’t mind buying one of them, as the straight on the ground method would be impractical for me for a number of reasons. I would like to get one that has a handle on it to turn it over. Hmmm, maybe I should ask my poor long suffering hubby to make me one? I’m sure he would love to have yet another task added to his already long list of “honey do’s”! 😉

    Comment by Rose — April 28, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

  6. the paper would be excellent for compost and mulch, and mario the lamb has decided he has a taste for after finding some on the commons which I’m trying to discourage. he busted out of the pen the other day and of all the things in the garden he went for the gourmet toilet paper. if you find yourself with a surplus of it, or any composting materials for that matter, let us know.

    as for the black compost bins, I would recommend making a heap on the ground because it works so well for all of the plants in the vicinity and conditions the patch of ground at the same time, making it a good place to plant. if the problem is animals digging into it, perhaps you could cover it with shade cloth and pin it down with rocks or bricks.

    I can’t advise on motivating husbands, perhaps you could start a new post on that! 😉

    Comment by newseditor — April 28, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  7. hi rose
    i reakon if you can’t have the heap on the ground and turn it then a turnable drum is certainly the best idea
    i’m just trying to think of what they are called????
    cause you should be able to find a design on the internet somewhere to work from
    i’m pretty sure it has to be turned daily and you could just keep adding stuff to it but i’ve never used one, i stick to the classic layer hot compost style, hopefully someone will be able to tell you more about the way the drum works, and how to make a good one, but i’ve got a basic idea if no-one else does.

    hot compost certainly doesn’t happen in those bins sitting there stagnant on the ground, that is called a rotting heap, and is eventually useful however very slow and does not kill weed seed and looses lots of the nitrogen and other nutrients.

    proper hot compost is the ultimate in soil making joy. It’s very exciting when you get it right, but if it turns out to be impractical then the rotting heap is okay too, as long as the soil is getting richer.

    if you just want to keep things from digging in the heap, a cover of shadecloth tied down with bricks/rocks should suffice

    from carrie ann

    Comment by carrie ann — April 28, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

  8. Thanks Carrie Ann. I would virtually have to go with the turnable drum type, not just because of the animals but because of the limitations of my poor old knees & back! 🙁 There will always be heaps of shredded paper going spare, I have to shred a lot of stuff at work. I will bring some home for y’all to share! 🙂

    Comment by Rose — April 29, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  9. Rose, Pamela has one of those tumble compost bins…maybe you could go talk to her and see how it works, I saw her tring to turn it on her own today. Looked like it wasn’t easy. But you might get some ideas for making one from a 44. As for the paper on the ground…wouldn’t that encourage the white ants? Pamela also has a worm farm, but has to keep them inside or they cook in the summer. She spoke to me the other day about a commercial worm farm, but it would need careful planning to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer…a cellar would be ideal. We would be able to deal with large amounts of paper and vegetable refuse that way. Sounds like a good idea to me. Then again…if we had a cellar here we could grow mushrooms too, there are plenty of sources of manure to grow them in. So many ideas.

    Comment by di Lectable — April 29, 2008 @ 11:54 pm

  10. Hmmm, maybe if I get one of those turnable ones I could put an electric motor on it! Hey, what about using the cement mixer? Only trouble is, I think a certain husband might object to that! 😉 I have one of those worm farm thingies, I bought it many years ago at a garage sale but it’s never been set up. Yes a cellar would be ideal for a lot of things, unfortunately apart from the pub I don’t think there are any around here.

    Comment by Rose — April 30, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  11. Stay tuned, Pamela is preparing a post on worm farming.

    Comment by newseditor — May 1, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  12. First catch your worms…..;-)

    Comment by Rose — May 1, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

  13. I do believe there are several old cellars under some of the older buildings, but they have been filled in for safety reasons and to prevent occupation. The old stone house on William Street has one, the back of Colin’s place had one as well. You never know, there may even be one under your place. Maybe someone who knows the history of the older buildings where the businesses used to be, on Railway Terrace East, can inform us.
    It would certainly make sense to have one in this climate, just to keep foods in a tolerable condition, and a cool place to go in the heat of summer.
    HHmmmmmm mushrooms!!!

    Comment by di jested — May 2, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  14. I have sourced a tumble type compost maker from Stratco in Port Augusta – hubby is picking it up today. Cost a bomb, but hey that’s why I work, right? I am going to call my compost Costalotta Compost! 😉

    Comment by Rose — May 14, 2008 @ 11:37 am

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