Building the dream composting station

COMPOST CENTRAL: The ultimate compost station with humanure bays, a compost bin, worm farm, chickens and goat systems. Picture: Hannah Moloney
COMPOST CENTRAL: The ultimate compost station with humanure bays, a compost bin, worm farm, chickens and goat systems. Picture: Hannah Moloney

The stuff of dreams this is - introducing our dream compost station.

We've got humanure bays, a compost bin, worm farm, chickens and goat systems all clustered into one compact, pretty spot and it's awesome. Why is it so awesome?

It's wonderfully efficient having all these systems in one place. We can just go to one place to drop off food scraps, humanure and animal manures into various compost options. When I harvest chook or goat poo from the neighbouring yard, it's dead easy as it's all on the same contour.

The worm farm also functions as a seat so we can hang out and watch the goats in comfort (we like to do that a lot). Plus it's rodent proof, being built from a enamel bath and hardwood frame.

The humanure (from the compost toilets) system is ergonomic, tidy and safe with no lifting or handling of raw poo or wee.

We've got a number of wheelie bins retrofitted to be the chamber for an inside compost toilet. There's a tap on the bottom of each bin which directs all urine to underground infiltration system.

Once a bin is full, it's swapped for an empty one and the full bin sits in on of the bays until it's composted for approximately six months (that's what those two green bins are doing). Once ready, it's then transferred into this new bay where it finishes the composting process with compost worms. At this point there's no unpleasant smell, it'll stay here for another six months or so at which point it'll return to our orchards.

More lifestyle:

You also need to know that we have a flush toilet and that this compost toilet is optional, not for public use and all inputs highly monitored. There's not much in it at the moment, but it'll build up over time. The front timber panels can be removed one by one for ergonomic access.

Wheelie bin toilets are awesome - check out Natural Event and The Humanure Handbook for more inspiration.

Tree prunings we harvest for our goats can be stored easily while they wait to be chipped and put back onto the garden or into the goat and chook runs.

We harvest weedy cotoneaster daily for them from our local forest and cycle the carbon back into our landscape once the goats have stripped all leaves off the branches. Until now, I've been making awkward piles of sticks and branches, which get in the way, but not any more. That one cross piece of timber you can see across the front is to help contain them.

The compost bin is rodent proof with a layer of vermin mesh added to its bottom to stop rodents creeping in.

The black bin to the right of the worm farm below is full of dry, brown carbon materials to add to the compost bin and occasionally into the worm farm if needed. Having a stash of ready-to-go carbon on hand helps your compost experience be a successful one as if you only put food scraps into a compost bin you'll create an anaerobic disaster.

Finally, it's beautiful. Built from salvaged corrugated iron from the local tip shop and hardwood timber from a local person's bush block. Why hide your compost bin system behind the back shed where it's cold and dark (and you never want to go) when you could integrate it into the hub of your garden?

One of the permaculture principles is "produce no waste". While a lot of the success with this principle is wrapped up in reducing consumption, it also questions what we do with the waste we produce - this compost station is part of our answer for our property.

Every morning I drink my morning cuppa staring out the window at this gorgeous creation of efficiency and nutrient-cycling heaven.

Special thanks to Anton who built it for me - the ultimate expression of love.

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture.
This story Building the dream composting station first appeared on The Canberra Times.