Compost bins and worm farms

You can reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill by using worm farms and compost bins.

More than half of household waste is made up of food and garden scraps.

Using a worm farm or compost bin helps the environment by significantly reducing the amount of waste that is thrown away.

How to order a worm farm or compost bin

1. Order a worm farm or compost bin online

2. Pay for your worm farm or compost bin

 3. Pick up your worm farm or compost bin

  • You can collect from our depot, corner of Roseneath and Gray Streets, Clifton Hill.
  • We have staff available from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 2:30pm.
  • Please bring your receipt of payment.

Sizes Available

 Type  Cost   Dimensions 
 220L compost bin  $38  L 71cm X W 71cm X H 77cm
 RELN worm farm  $91  L 57cm X W 39.5cm X H 64cm
 Hungry bin worm farm  $300   L 65cm X W 60cm X H 95cm
 (About the size of a small wheelie bin)

Composting

What is composting?

Composting is when household food scraps and garden waste (also known as organics) are broken down to create a dark soil.

This soil is nutrient-rich and provides an excellent fertiliser for your garden. 

Why compost? 

1. Supercharge your garden

  • Feed your garden nutrient-rich soil and watch it flourish!
  • A compost pile or worm farm can become a valuable source of plant food for your garden.

2. Divert food waste from landfill

  •  Food makes up 50% of our waste going to landfill.
  • As it breaks down it creates greenhouse gases, affecting our air quality and contributing to climate change.

3. Save money

  • Each year, we throw out $2,000 worth of food. 

How do I compost?

There are a number of ways to compost at home. 

Finding an option that suits your home and the amount of food waste you produce is important to consider before you begin.  

  • A compost bin can be great solution if you have enough space, and requires minimal upkeep to function well, provided that the materials added are balanced.
  • Collect your kitchen scraps in a compost caddy or container indoors and then add them to the compost bin.
  • Food scraps have a very high water content so it’s important to balance your compost by also adding dry material.
  • Suitable dry material for composting includes paper and cardboard, dry leaves and straw. 
  • Turning your compost with a garden fork or aerator will keep the bin aerated and breaking down effectively.
  • Once the compost has broken down it will become a dark, rich soil conditioner that can be used to fertilise your garden. 

Making sure that you are adding the correct materials and keeping the moisture balance correct are key to successful composting.

This list will help you decide what to add in, and what to leave out.

  • Choose a sunny spot for your compost bin, whereas worm farms are better suited to shade.
  • Turn your compost pile regularly to give it air.
  • Break up clumps of food waste or add twigs and newspapers to increase air spaces.
  • Keep it moist, but not wet.
  • Ensure you feed it the right food.
  • Balance is key. Like the food you eat, your garden is as healthy as the soil you feed it them. Too much of the same thing limits diversity of our nutrients, so change up what you toss in your compost!
  • Lasagne technique: Add a layer of newspaper, grass, leaves or straw when you add food scraps. 

Building your compost

There are a number of methods for building your compost and each will take a different amount of time:

1. Layering

  • Add 10cm layers of vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, leaves and shredded newspaper, covering each layer with a thin layer of soil and a small amount of fertiliser.
  • Your compost will be ready in three to six months, but will take less time if it is turned regularly.

2. All together

  • Add saved kitchen and garden waste to your compost at once and turn several times a week.
  • This generates a lot of heat, making your compost ready in 3 to 6 weeks.

3. Compost worms

  • Layer your compost as usual but add compost worms.
  • The worms will turn the heap for you making your compost ready in approximately 3 months.
  • Many nurseries and hardware stores sell compost worms.

You will know your compost is ready to use when it is dark and crumbly.

Always remember to wear gloves when handling the compost and adding the soil to your garden.

What can I compost? 

  • Bread and cake (please note: these may attract mice)
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Tea leaves, tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Shredded paper and cardboard
  • Dry grass clippings/leaves
  • Egg cartons
  • Hay/straw/mulch
  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Human and animal hair
  • Animal manure
  • Old newspapers (wet)
  • Sawdust (not from treated timber) and wood ash
  • Tea leaves, tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Used vegetable cooking oil
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Some weeds
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings and scraps
  • Bark
  • Cane mulch
  • Dry grass clippings
  • Dry leaves
  • Egg cartons
  • Hay
  • Paper
  • Shredded paper and cardboard
  • Straw
  • Tree prunings
  • Blood and bone
  • Dolomite
  • Dynamic lifter
  • Lime
  • Soil
  • Wood ash

What can't I compost?

  • Dairy products
  • Diseased plant material
  • Fat
  • Large branches
  • Magazines/glossy paper
  • Meat scraps and bones (Bokashi bins can accept these)
  • Metals
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Pet droppings

What's your compost telling you? 

  • Too wet? Add more carbon/brown matter (dead leaves, twigs, newspaper).
  • Too dry? Add more nitrogen/ some more green matter (grass, fruit) and sprinkle with water.
  • Too smelly? Add dry material (newspaper, grass). Turn your compost to air the soil and add a dash of lime juice.
  • Breaking down too slowly? Turn your compost to expose it to air and add water.
  • Maggots in your compost? You may have added meats, faeces and fats. Avoid this in future and cover with lime juice or soil.
  • Pests in your compost? Your compost is too dry – remove any breads/grains, cover entry with wire, turn compost and add moisture.
  • Lasagne technique: Add a layer of newspaper, grass, leaves or straw when you add food scraps.
  • Feels warm? Your compost is breaking down correctly.
  • Taking too long to break down? Turn your compost more regularly. It usually takes three to six months, but turning it will speed it up.

Worm farming

What is worm farming?

Worm farming is when you feed fruit and vegetable scraps to compost worms.

There are 3 common types of compost worms: tiger worms, Indian blues and red wrigglers. These worms eat their body weight in a single day and can double in population every 2 to 3 months.

The worms produce castings that make a great fertiliser for gardens and indoor plants.

Keeping a worm farm requires minimal maintenance and is ideal for people living in flats or in houses with small backyards.

How do I worm farm?

You can purchase a variety of different worm farms from nurseries and hardware stores or you can make your own.

  • Once you have your worm farm and compost worms, all you need to do is add your fruit and vegetable scraps each week.
  • Add a small amount of food in the first week and increase this amount gradually over six months.
  • Make sure to chop up the food first and include a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Compost worms will also eat coffee grinds, paper, leaves and even damp cardboard.
  • Do not add onions, garlic and chilli or acidic food such as oranges or lemons.
  • Avoid meat and dairy foods or materials contaminated with toxic chemicals such as sawdust from treated wood.
  • If uneaten food remains in the farm, you will know you have overfed the worms.
  • Place a few layers of newspaper on top of the food to keep the moisture in your worm farm.
  • Pour some water on the newspaper every few days during summer to prevent the worm farm from drying out.

For more information about worm farms visit Sustainability Victoria’s website.

I don’t have space and/or access to a compost bin or worm farm. What else can I do?

You can visit Share Waste to find someone in Yarra who can accept and compost your food scraps, or add yourself as a host and compost for others to divert their food waste from landfill.

You could also consider using a Bokashi bin if you live in an apartment, or have limited space for processing food waste. They can be purchased at garden nurseries and environmental supply businesses.

For more information about composting visit Food Know How and Sustainability Victoria's website.

Abbotsford four-bin waste trial

We are also trialling a new food and green waste collection service in selected part of Abbotsford.

Trial participants are helping the environment by separating food and garden waste into a separate bin, to divert it from going to landfill.

To find out more and follow our progress, read more about the four-bin waste trial in Abbotsford.