The Dug Out’s Secret Garden!

The mini hot composter seconds before the big 14 week reveal!!

The Dug Out’s Secret Garden Directory!

Series Introduction …

Episode 8# – Pop Goes The Epiphany!!

Despite endless research … the day of reckoning was upon me – today was the day! Today was the day l was to discover how well the mini hot composter had performed after 14 weeks of activity ……. would l be thrilled or disappointed?

Mini composter no longer producing heat = time to take first content off – what could go wrong?

Well ……mm, l wasn’t thrilled at all! I was disappointed greatly – BUT l learned a huge lesson about the composting process with this system. It can take food, it can take shredded foods – but it can’t decompose down ‘pickled foods!!’ Nope, nada, nil and not happening!

Ah …… this isn’t right – this is not right at all!!

In normal food waste there is going to be moisture – so that’s not the problem – the problem with pickled foods isn’t the pickling process – it’s the bran! The bran under heat turns into some kind of sci-fi freaky gooey shit! [Which was super sticky and incredibly yucky!!] Sci-fi freaky gooey shit doesn’t break down in this style of composter.

Why?

Because the mini composter relies on stationary heat whereas a conventional hot composter is frequently turned over and the bran would be dispersed throughout each turn, therefore it wouldn’t sit under intense heat and sweat.

Three views of extraction …. far left the 50% composted content coming out, middle – the top sliding down, twigs not broken up or rotted away and far right – taken from the top looking down at the top layer sliding down and out.

This is a huge lesson. A real learning curve – so the first content produced was a waste of time and in many ways useless. Not totally, because today l had to quickly swing an old system into action and dry out the mini composter in readiness for the winter content period. I ‘ll not make the same mistake twice and when it needs to be emptied in January 2021 hopefully, the finished product will be much better.

As a composter it was working really well, it had evidence and the scents/smell of a burn – so l knew the process worked – but the bokashi bran stops the process horribly! So it was completely emptied out, brushed up, wiped down, repositioned again and laid up with straw, shredded woods, crumpled paper, browns and greens – but NO – moistures and hopefully it will start to burn again.

This then meant that l had to ressurect the second cubicle composter and empty the first content into it and l also opted to empty my back up support bins into the cubicle. I added some accelerator and will now have to work the turning method into this in order to break it down.

I wasn’t planning on having two of these cubicles again, but with a quick rearrangement l could easily fit everything in to the space out back. I laid a groundsheet down, covered it in shredded paper and then emptied five bins into it. I will work on turning this into the support bins and back once every four weeks or so. Well as they say, you can never have too much compost!

Okay, so everything sorted right? Oh hang on a moment Rory – if we can’t put the bokashi mix into the mini composter and we are only turning the conventional once a month, that means the bran will not break down quick enough – what do we do?

Worm farm prior to today’s feeding – after a couple of soft forking turns you can see the thousands of worms we have here. If l had to put a number on it, l am guessing maybe 200 hundred thousand – which has continued to multiply since 1] l made a deliberate worm farm back in July and 2] since l started feeding pickled bran scraps.

Well ………. funny you should ask … but remember the worm farm – the potting soil bin? Well, they freaking love the sci-fi gunky pickled mix and l feed them once a month – except l have been having to feed them twice a month due to the ever increasing population explosion ever since l started feeding sci-fi gunky mix!!

Worm farm to the rescue!!

When l opened up the worm farm today, l was astonished at the sheer volume of baby worms or what are actually called wormlets and cocoons. Each cocoon can hold 4 wormlets and a worm can produce 1000 babies in six months – you do the calculations ha ha!! Why am l experiencing a major worm explosion …. ?

What do worms love to eat??

Wormlets clumping together in an eating frenzy over the remains of the banana skins from 2 weeks ago.

Banana skin and fruit, apple cores, cardboard, soft fruits like mango, bran, eggshell and paper ….. are you seeing the pattern here??

The bokashi bin that fed the worms today was from Suze – who doesn’t shred her food, where as l do. However the worms are loving the mix because in the main, currently Suze and l are both eating a lot of bananas and eggs and of course we are both using lots of bran to cover the foods in the bin! Once l poured in the feed, l forked it over again, provided them fresh egg cartons and covered them up. They will now have to be fed once every 10 days or so.

Well, l guess l am going to have to find an outlet for prime composting worms now.

Anyway – so there we go – the mini composter does actually work – BUT – it hates bokashi bran – the worm farm is very efficient and thankfully loves bokashi bran! We all live and learn and there is always an opportunity for something else to happen with composting, thank goodness! However for the mini composter review – that will not be written until some time in January.

Welcome to the Secret Garden folks, thanks for reading and see you next time!

9 thoughts on “The Dug Out’s Secret Garden!

  1. The only times I’ve seen good comments for the type of mini hot composter you have is when the stuff is pre-mixed (from bins and such) and loaded in a single fill. It works well with weeds that can’t go in other composting systems, but once again, a single fill with a premixed load of brown and green.
    I don’t create enough green to fill one of these in a single sitting, so I have two cold composters and the worm farm and use a closed-lid system for bad weeds (pong-pong stuff, really bad until watered down for use).
    Good luck with it all, and I’m impressed with the worm-count!

    1. Hey Cage. The Marshall’s compost bin has pretty good reviews in truth and for it to work over here it doesn’t specifically need to have a pre-mixed content and can work on the same premise of the old fashioned layering system – but as l have learned today the biggest threat to that working correctly was that the bran really didn’t break down quick with the heat and just turned to a seriously gooey muck which was also like a glue. I have a tool for bringing the stuff out from the compact end product – but the tool wasn’t having it which is when l really realised that it was almost like a bonding glue was holding it together – enter the bran mix. Oops and mm interesting.

      It’s all good as learned lesson – however IF come January 2021 and following the same principle excluding the bran and l have a similiar result then l will have to look at following conventional practices as you have outlined and l follow using a conventional composter – which is a little defeatist considering the hot composter was supposed to do the trick.

      At that point, Marshalls will be hearing from me again 🙂

      1. Everyone I know who’s used one (or similar, called the same thing) has issues with layering. Many have given up on them and gone back to either cold composting or worm farms (small spaces). I need my things to be easy (no lifting, etc.), so I’ll wait until your experiment/s show the process to follow before I use of them.

  2. Sven would love to visit your worm farm.😂 His aim is horrible so I don’t think there’d be too much danger.

    It always sucks when things don’t work like they’re supposed to, but you learned something and made your worms happy too. Not all bad.

    🌊🦄💫🧸💌

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