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Hot Composting

By adding the right ingredients, you can literally get your compost cooking.

Hot composting could be for you if you are a keen gardener, have lots of compostable material, and want a large amount of good quality compost quickly.

Once you have decided where to make the hot compost – It can be made in a large free-standing heap, or you can build a structure out of pallets, or similar – a large heap is made. All of the materials are added in a single session, alternating thick layers of brown carbon rich materials with thinner layers of green nitrogen rich material. See here for what is classified as brown and green.

Then, with the help of microorganisms, especially bacteria, and with the right mix of moisture, air, greens, and browns, the pile will heat up rapidly. This heat will speed up the decomposition process, and can be sped up more by turning the heap and mixing in more air once it starts to cool. The more you turn your heap the faster you will get great compost.

Wastebusters has a super informative hot composting page, found here, with troubleshooting tips and tricks too.


You can use a wide variety of material, including chicken wire, wood, plywood, bricks, concrete blocks, etc to make your own compost bin. It must sit on the soil and be no smaller than 1 metre high x 1 metre wide x 1 metre deep.

For large amounts of garden waste, units can be made from wood, bricks, or concrete blocks. Ready access from the front is necessary.

Black polythene or sacks may be used for lining, warmth and moisture control. Wrap netting frame around wooden stakes. Line these with newspaper or cardboard to retain heat.

More resources

Click on the green text to download instructions for a DIY composting bin using wooden pallets, from our wonderful friends at MPHS UPCYCLE: COMPOST BINS

Check for designs at your public library in books on compost such as The Suburban/Urban Composter by Mark Cullen. Some designs can also be found through Googling ‘compost bins’ on the Internet.

Have a look at the COMPOST COLLECTIVE’S PINTEREST BOARD for Bin Composting systems. Each image is described and some lead to interesting websites with more detail.


Putting worms to work is not rocket science, and there are all kinds of creative ways to house them.

On Youtube

Have a look at some of these DIY WORM FARMS and see what might suit you. They may even inspire you to create something to match the resources you have available.

The bath version

bath-tub-worm-bin-300x178If you use a bath, remove the plug and build a frame to allow the bath to sit securely at a convenient height. Bricks, posts or blocks may be used for elevation, and to give room for the liquid collection container to be placed beneath the plug outlet.

Roofing such as plywood or corrugated iron will be needed to shed water and provide protection from summer sun and vermin. Consider the optimum location to allow it to stay warm but not too hot. Worms do best at 23C.

If you look at the various videos and instructional offerings on the web, you’ll see you need to create a layer that collects the liquid while keeping out the worms. Here’s one method: Place 1.5m of the 65mm perforated drainage pipe covered with two layers of old stockings. This seals the ends and covers the perforations, which stops the pipe blocking. Add pumice sand or scoria to a depth of 75mm then place shade cloth, doubled over and cut to fit, on top of the filtering layer.

To remove the worm castings once the worm farm is full (after 9-18 months), place a plastic sheet or large container next to the bath, and using a garden fork remove the top half of the worms’ bedding. This is undigested food and is where the majority of the worms will be. Place this to one side.

Remove all casts. Rinse drainage layer thoroughly catching all liquid.

Replace the contents that were put aside and commence the feeding, forking, and watering process when required.

Your bath worm farm will ultimately digest about 2-3 litres of mixed organic waste a day.

More DIY Worm Farm resources

Earthly delights in Christchurch have lots of helpful resources, as well as being suppliers of worms if you want to buy some to get things started. Here’s their suggestions for DIY WORM FARMS.

We’ve also put together this partial list of worm suppliers in New Zealand. Please note suppliers listed aren’t necessarily endorsed or guaranteed by Auckland Council. If you are a worm supplier, and would like to be added to the list, please email [email protected].