The Earthmaker has a capacity of 466 litres and measures 1200mm high by 750mm in diameter.
No composting experience is necessary to get started. Read the User Guide to find out how easy it is.
This is a trick question! The time it takes to make true compost depends on many variables. Examples include the amount of waste material you add, whether the material is shredded, the nitrogen/carbon balance, the moisture content, the time of year, etc. Good mulch is made in several weeks. A few more months of bacterial action converts mulch into real compost.
A cold climate will slow the process while warm weather speeds it up. That said, speed is not really important once the continuous cycle process has been established. Add waste to the top of your Earthmaker at any time. Remove mulch/compost from the bottom when needed.
Some seeds (such as pumpkin, squash, and tomato seeds) and bulbs (such as oxalis bulbs) will survive the heat and will unfortunately germinate. In addition, Wandering Willy is highly resistant in that any small piece grows. We suggest putting these difficult weeds in a black plastic bag and leaving this bag in a very sunny place. Leave the bag there for a few weeks to allow the weeds to “cook” before feeding them to the Earthmaker.
Fibrous woody weeds or plants such as jasmine may also survive and sprout. This may not matter, however, because you can easily remove them later. Because there is minimal light in the lower chambers, their growth will be hampered.
Try to avoid diseased plants, though, as they may spread viruses. It is preferable to burn clippings from citrus trees that have borer. Pine needles and gum leaves take a long time to break down as they are full of resin.
Most other weeds, like other green waste, can be fed to your Earthmaker. It is mainly a heat issue. In most cases, the top chamber will get quite hot, ensuring that weeds in the leafy stage will break down.
Adding worms isn’t a problem but you can leave it to nature as vegetation eating red worms will find their own way into the upper chambers. Soil aerating earthworms will appear naturally in the bottom chamber.
Earthmaker traps radiant heat from the sun in the top chamber with the black plastic absorbing heat even in winter. In fact, there should be at least a 10-degree centigrade difference between the temperature inside your Earthmaker and outside it EVEN WITHOUT THE HEAT FROM COMPOSTING MATERIAL. In freezing conditions, a waterproof thermal blanket will extend the composting season.
Earthmaker will sort itself out whatever you put in as long as it is an organic, non-toxic mixture of nitrogen (green) and carbon (brown) and you stir and mix the material occasionally, e.g. about once a month. Too much grass will result in slimy wet material. Mix in dry leaves if possible, or just leave it to eventually break down.
For speedy results, a ratio of 1:5 of food waste to garden waste is about right, i.e. one bucket of kitchen scraps to 5 buckets of garden waste. If you have a large lawn, put excess grass in a simple bin beside Earthmaker. You can then use this material to layer over kitchen material later.
No. Earthmaker is very forgiving providing the four ingredients for making compost are present: air, water, carbon, and nitrogen. The composting process will happen if your Earthmaker is fed a balanced diet of food and garden waste.
It is best to aim at a 2:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio, but in practice, a 1:1 by volume mixture of carbon (dry leaves, twigs, shredded paper, etc) and nitrogen (grass, green vegetable scraps, etc) will be okay too.
Note: carbon and nitrogen occur in both kitchen and garden waste.
You can add material to Earthmaker’s top chamber when it is convenient. It is useful to stir and mix the material you add every four weeks or when transferring material to the middle chamber. Then, let the process take its course – your unique compost recipe will reflect your lifestyle.
Remember, the only compost you can truly trust is the compost you make yourself! (Centralised composting plants constantly combat contamination!)
Go to the How it Works section for a more detailed description.
As with the speed question, this varies greatly depending on the volume and type of ingredients as well as the ambient climate.
An average household of 3-4 people in a temperate climate is likely to produce 10-20 litres of kitchen waste per week (or 40-80 litres per month).
Earthmaker is a busy machine. With average use, an Earthmaker can process 500 to 1,000 kg (1,100 – 2,200 lbs) per year, yielding 200 to 300 litres of rich worm-filled compost.
The sums vary depending on local, state, regional, and central government policy, and the volume of organic waste you produce.
Most local governments have adopted a user-pays system for taking household waste away. Processing organic waste at landfills, central composting plants, or oxygenation ponds is very expensive because of the many safety considerations, e.g. managing methane and leachate. This trend will increase as schemes are put in place to discourage practices that increase global warming.
The other side of the equation is the cost of importing nutrients to add value to your land. Not only will you save money on fertilisers or commercial compost, you will also know the compost you are using is free from contaminants. In addition, the growing of vegetables or flowers in your garden will become more productive.
The Earthmaker Aerobic Composter is a continuous cycle process. Once the cycle is set up (which takes about 12-15 weeks), the amount of material added determines the rate at which compost is produced. You can speed up the process by adding carbohydrates such as sugar, and by stirring more often. Having an exact ratio of browns to greens (2:1 of carbon materials to nitrogen) also produces compost faster. Remember, Earthmaker’s unique aerobic process is faster than anaerobic composting.
No, not at all as there will be plenty of enzymes and nutrients from the kitchen green waste you add. That said, soaking shredded paper in a solution of blood and bone overnight before adding to your Earthmaker will enrich your compost.
Lime should NOT be added. If your soil is fallow or acidic, and you are
planting vegetables, it would be better to put lime or dolomite directly onto your garden before, or with, your compost.
NOTE: some plants like acidic soil, e.g. camellias.
Only if there is no chance of disease or parasites being passed on. We do not recommend dog faeces for this reason. Be sure to add nitrogen and carbon etc as well, e.g. grass cuttings, leaves, twigs, and kitchen waste.
Horse manure can be added to Earthmaker, BUT ONLY IN SMALL QUANTITIES as it’s heavy!. Also, there may be a problem with seeds coming through so our recommendation is to compost horse manure, along with associated hay or straw, separately in a heap in a corner of your garden.
No, please do not add ashes from coal or tanalised wood. Plain wood and paper ashes are okay, but do not overload Earthmaker with this type of material, and make sure it’s cold.
Anything not biodegradable or that is non-organic will not break down. This includes plastic, metals, and glass.
Also, large sheets of paper or cardboard will take too long to compost and may clog up your Earthmaker. It’s also important to avoid anything toxic such as pesticides, paints, solvents, and harsh chemicals. If in doubt, don’t!
Tetanus spores can live in the soil for a very long time so it may be a good idea to ensure you have a tetanus booster every 10 years. If sharp objects, such rose thorns, penetrate your skin and you are not immunised, serious illness from tetanus can occur, although this is very rare.
Do not store your compost in bags or closed containers. Instead, use it as you remove it from your Earthmaker. There have been cases of people catching Legionella when opening bags of dry commercial compost or potting mix. Legionella is a soil-born bacterium that can cause illness in the elderly and people with health problems if inhaled.
Please contact us if you have further questions.
Happy Earthmaking! And congratulations for practicing responsible waste management!
Material too wet and slimy
Check that you haven’t left the top open or whether y have too many grass clippings. Stir in dry leaves, twigs, newspaper, straw, untreated sawdust, or shredded dry seaweed Ensure the site drains well.
Material too dry and not composting
Add water or leave the top open so rain can get in. Dryness usually means you are not adding sufficient nitrogen material such as cut grass, clippings from pruning, etc.
The composting process needs a critical mass to create heat and stimulate organic breakdown. When the top and middle chambers are almost full the process should be working well.
Compost smells rotten
If the decomposing material smells like ammonia or hydrogen sulphide (i.e. rotten eggs) it means the mixing, loosening, and aeration process has not worked as it should. Carefully stir to let in air. Also, ensure the material is moved through regularly to prevent it from compacting and clogging the system.
Taking too long to reach the bottom
You may not be feeding your Earthmaker enough, or a blockage may have developed from large twigs or kitchen scraps or because of inadequate mixing and pushing. Remember to chop up food waste and shred garden waste where possible.
First batch does not compost fully
The first batch will take longer than subsequent batches. Bacteria and microbes will gradually multiply, and many will remain on the shelves as material is pushed through. It might be necessary to recycle the first batch of material through the continuous cycle system to establish a good composting environment.
Fruit flies are in the top chamber
At certain times of the year there will always be fruit flies (Drosophila). Do not worry as they are part of nature’s process. If they bother you just break their life cycle by covering with wet newspaper or layer over with grass cuttings and/or dry leaves.
In certain areas, ants may invade your composter if sweet material has been added. These can either be ignored or baited with non-toxic poison.
White grubs appear
Sometimes, in dry conditions, composting grubs may arrive in the top chamber. They are whitish, 1-2cm long, and have a wriggly tail. They are not maggots. Leave them to do their job and layer over with grass cuttings and/or leaves.
Blow flies emerge
Blow flies may appear if meat scraps have been left exposed. Use a natural pyrethrum fly spray and let them decompose in the compost.
Rodents may be attracted to food or the warm nesting environment They can be discouraged by:
Ensuring food waste is well covered with garden waste;
Keeping the lid and door properly closed;
Putting your bin on a solid surface, e.g. cobbles or timber slats with narrow drainage gaps; and putting your Earthmaker in the open provided it’s not in hot sun as rodents don’t like open spaces where they are vulnerable to predators.
As it was with semi-colons. These are not complete sentences.
Alternatively, you may choose to deal with rodents by disposing of them in the compost, rather than encouraging them to go elsewhere (such as the house). Place non-toxic bait in your Earthmaker.