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  • Justine Elamatha

Dump Composting - A Lazy's Person's Way To Get Started

There are lots of different ways to compost and if your space is limited then container composting is a great way to get started.


If, however, you have access to soil (or, in the desert, some sandy ground), then dump composting might be a method worth trying. I struggle with remembering to turn piles and remaining consistent- the best thing about dump composting is that your largest roll to play is assembling your off-cuts in one location and letting sun, heat and time take care of the rest.


As with anything, there is a balance to be struck. We are not yet composting kitchen scraps out there because the sugars in the produce encourage a) fermentation and b) ants, neither of which are welcome in large quantities.


Here is Shelly modelling some dried grass clippings.


So far, our experiment has included greens such as fresh tortoise poop (Thanx Shelly), landscaping trimmings and any Shelly-food leftovers such as lettuce nubbins or cabbage stems. Browns include dried grass clippings, fallen leaves from the neighbour's frangipane trees, dried tortoise poop and spent loo rolls. Corn cobs would be an ideal contribution!


It gets watered every day because the pile is parked under a bougainvillea bush but we haven't been too precious with it. It does not get turned (though... it probably should?) and it has attracted an impressive array of insect life that is kept in check by lots of busy spiders. Too much wildlife for some perhaps, but the fauna keeps itself to its food source which is the compost pile and we haven't had issues with migration to either the tortoise shelter adjacent or the house 10 feet away.


August 1, 2020 August 16, 2020 August 23, 2020



The photography isn't textbook but you can see that the original pile on the left was at least 25 cm high. We kept adding to it as we cut the grass or plants or Shelly had contributions but it very quickly condensed itself to a mere lump. A couple of days ago I had to remove some whole banana peels from the worm bin as they were starting to ferment and potentially cause sour crop. You can see, however, the apple from August 16 didn't even make it 10 days without being completely consumed.


What about the smell, you ask? There isn't one. I did get in there to see what the insect life was like but there was no smell unless you're close to an apple or banana, in which case you get a a tiny whiff of sour. Beyond that, nothing.


Speaking of insects, this is what our population looks like up close:


At any rate, so far, so good. A month of Dump Composting in the desert in one of the hottest months of the year with very little attention has at least cycled some nutrients back into the ecosystem with minimal inconvenience to the reptile, kids, dogs, humans or other life forms who regularly use the garden.

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