Compost superstars and the ongoing barrel experiment

Yesterday I paid a visit to long time HCC contributors, Chris and Leigh in Gunghalin. But isn’t Gunghalin outside of the HCC collection area? That’s true, but Chris and Leigh happen to be very good friends of mine so that makes it easier for me to collect their kitchen scraps regularly. Also, Leigh had been working in Hackett for the last few months so she was able to drop off their scraps once a week. However Leigh will be taking a break from her paid work for the next little while as they are about to welcome baby no. 2!

Some people bring some nice biccies when they visit, I bring a big black bag of leaves

Despite impending life upheaval they have been very gracious and let me run a little experiment in their backyard. Chris and Leigh have been the first household to host a barrel. They found that the barrel could be tucked into a corner of their courtyard quite easily, in a convenient location that wasn’t too far from the back door and kitchen. Apparently little A is right into the spirit of things and is quick to declare “into the compost!” with any scraps after dinner. Chris has noted just how many half-eaten foods can pile up with a toddler in the house. With the scraps collections however, (either into a bucket, or into the barrel) they don’t have to take the kitchen bin out as often, a small win for convenience.

Family of four with a barrel and plenty of dry leaves tucked in behind the lemon tree

Although the courtyard is only small there is plenty of room to roll the barrel just outside their back fence. I’m sure the grass at the golf course doesn’t mind a little bit of nutrient rich barrel juice!

Chris and Leigh did a great job adding a handful of leaves each time they added kitchen scraps. The barrel had been gradually filled over three weeks. I was a bit worried that it might get too full and then I wouldn’t be able to lift it but it seems as though my initial estimate of a month was about right. I could have waited one more week before swapping it over. Nevertheless, I switched it with a clean barrel because I was keen to see how the decomposition inside was progressing.

plenty of leaves = no slimy mess

My one mistake was providing leaves that were still attached to twigs! The leaves had come from a pile that a neighbour had conveniently raked up yet there were too many twigs and sticks hidden in with the leaves. This just meant that it was a bit of struggle to get the contents of the barrel out.

Besides the sticks the contents of the barrel were great, no bad smells and it had obviously been hot enough to keep quite a few soldier fly larvae happily chomping away. It was certainly starting to compost and will integrate into the main heap nicely. I’m calling this a success! If you’d like to contribute scraps to the HCC but are not in the collection area, or don’t want to drop off scraps every week then a barrel could be a good option. Email Brook at if you’re keen 🙂

phew! emptied. I’m glad I provided nice small leaves for better mixing and less tangles this time!

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