Psssst… yeah you, come closer, we want to let you in on a little secret, consider this the Berlin underground clubs of the compost world. It’s ok we know the bouncer, so you can skip the line and head straight to the bar of in-ground composting. This in-situ form of composting, means your compost is already at ground zero and doesn’t need to be lugged from the compost bin to your garden beds. Soil is being improved as decomposition takes place and you have just bought a room service buffet to the worms and microbes, so they aren’t checking out of this garden bed anytime soon.
Often considered a cold or passive composting approach, in-ground composting makes use of the soil life of the garden bed to help break down your waste. Be sure to add equal amounts of green waste and brown waste. Most people have an excess of green waste at their disposal, this is ‘wet’ waste, comprised of nitrogen-rich plant material and includes your kitchen scraps, garden clippings and the leftovers that have somehow drifted into international waters that nobody is laying claim to. Brown waste is ‘dry’ waste, including carbon-rich plant material such as straw, wood chips, dry leaves, paper, cardboard and sawdust from non-treated woods. These lightweight, dry materials help to aerate the in-ground compost bin, providing oxygen and carbon for the microbe diet. As compost is formed, nutrients are immediately available to plants, it’s the perfect cycle with no double-handling.
Don’t forget that everything that goes into your in-ground compost eventually goes out into your garden. So unless you like playing the tomato lottery or appreciate an unpredictable pumpkin popping up, be careful with what you thrown in. As tempting as it is to throw in the weeds you’ve just plucked, be careful as their seeds may infiltrate and take over your garden. Most common household compost bins don’t have the right size of thermal mass to create temperatures hot enough to kill off the weed seeds.
Some clever in-ground composting systems help keep pet waste out of landfill and off the bottom of your shoes. The EnsoPet pet poo composter is a compact in-ground composting system that utilises worms and micro-organisms in your garden bed as well as their micro-organism inoculated grain to recycle pet waste and reduce your carbon pawprint. The micro-organisms in the grains ensure a rapid continuous breakdown of the waste. Be careful with cat poo and composting near food, although the microbes may break down some parasites, cat poo contains diseases and parasites that are harmful during pregnancy and can cause toxoplasmosis.
In-ground composting takes time, so if you want to make use of all your food scraps it is best to have a few compost systems or multiple bins. We like to have at least two in-ground bins in action so as one is filling up the other (now full) is being processed by your in-ground worm and microbe friends. Once that is done - fingers crossed, at roughly the same time the second becomes full - you can simply remove the bin from that spot (leaving behind a patch of fresh compost) and find it some new real estate. And repeat.
Through the continuous cycle of growth, death, decay, compost, fertilisation, nutrients are reused again and again. In this way, composting is the ultimate form of recycling, and there is no greater satisfaction than seeing those tangible results in your own garden.