Tips and Tricks give you some extra info on ways to best use the Compot but is by no means a full list as I am constantly finding new ways to use it every year. You might too.

  • Putting grass clippings, scrunched up leaves, hay, straw, lucerne, pea straw, coconut fibre, or shredded bamboo on top on your Compot keeps the hot sun and air from drying out your waste in summer and keeps the cold air out in winter keeping it warm inside the pot over winter and dark for all the garden critters.  Worms need moisture to survive so if you are filling your pots up with only worm friendly waste only, you will mostly have only worms inside your pot, then you must cover it so the contents don’t become too dry or hot inside the Pot, and it keeps the light out, otherwise, the worms will leave. Bacteria and Soldier Fly Larvae also like the dark conditions and will continue to decompose the waste while the worms will live in the surrounding soil outside the pot, picking up all the leftovers from the other bugs and spreading their castings into the surrounding soil. Exactly as they do when you fill your Compot up with “ALL your kitchen waste” and not just worm friendly waste.
  • The Compot is unique in that it does not need to be dry to work.  In fact – the wetter the better with this system (unlike other above ground composters which generally need to be somewhere between dry and wet).  This is where your wastewater comes in handy.  See next tip.
  • Keep a container on your kitchen bench for your food waste. Add to this any “wastewater” you might be tossing down the drain – i.e., any water you are wasting down the drain. EG – When rinsing out a tin, jar, or milk container etc. that is destined for your recycle bin. Or throwing out cooking water or washing up water (even with detergent in it). Don’t throw this wastewater down your drain.  Rather, add it to your container of food scraps.  The water will soften the scraps, mingle the odours, ferment the waste (time dependent) and produce a liquid that can be poured around your plants before you fill your Compot with the remaining waste.  Not only are you watering your plants with water you would normally throw down the sink, but you are also making a solution of nutrients to feed directly to your plants while aiding the decomposition process. As a general rule – if you keep your scraps covered with wastewater, they should not smell for three to five days. Some things go “off” quicker than others such as cat food (stinky stuff). You need to work out what you can tolerate in your kitchen before you empty the waste into your Compots. If it gets too smelly and you can’t tolerate the smell, then empty it straight away or add more wastewater to dilute the odour till you have time to empty it.  The water in your container means your waste won’t smell if you are like me and only dispose of your scraps once a week.  But if you don’t have time to spread the water around your plants just toss it straight into the Compot. This will flush all the nutrients (currently accumulating inside the Compot) into the surrounding soil instantly fertilising your plants. But work out a system that works for you
  • Another tip and trick to reduce the smell in your waste container is to add lots of citrus peel. Makes your compost smell really nice even inside the pot in the garden. Sometimes I just squeeze an old lemon or lime into the waste container. Sometimes your waste will never smell. It all depends on what you eat and how long you leave it soaking in the water. You can watch this video “A smell that would kill Satan” which shows waste that I had not emptied for 60 days as I was too busy to walk out to the back yard and empty my waste container. As soon as the waste went into the Compot there was absolutely no smell. It all disappeared into the soil. You need to work out what you can tolerate as an odour in your kitchen. If I don’t remove the lid of my waste container there is no smell. It is only when I remove the lid to put more waste in that I can smell it. This is the part you need to work out what you can tolerate. As long as you don’t remove the lid there is no smell in your kitchen. The longer your scraps can soak in the water the better. It comes down to what you can tolerate and how often you want to fill your Compots or empty your scraps. I do what takes me the least amount of effort and time.
  • If I haven’t emptied my waste for over a week and it is a bit “on the nose” I light a match and fluff it out in the air to release the Sulphur smell of the match. Sometimes if my waste has been soaking for a long time it can be quite pungent so a few matches do the trick here until I find time to empty the waste into the Compots. This match trick also works for other odours in your house such as the toilet which may require more than one match. lol
  • Soaking your scraps in your wastewater will make the waste disappear quicker as well as allowing you to add a lot more waste to your pots than you would otherwise be able to do.  Especially if you are on water restrictions. And it makes it easier for ALL the garden critters to decompose, especially the Soldier Fly Larvae.
  • If you are a big juicer, you definitely need to soak the pulp as all the moisture has been removed during the juicing process and it will not break down quickly inside your Compot unless you reconstitute it with water. Hence the soaking in waste water is the best tip and trick if you are a big juicer. (Article coming very soon)
  • If you have a problem with roots in your garden just twist the Compot around occasionally when you are filling it – if possible.  The roots will then grow around the pot rather than in the pot.   Though I have never had a problem and I confess I rarely turn mine.  Generally speaking, if you are looking after your garden (that is keeping it moist) the roots will not grow into the pot as long as there is activity in the pot from you continually topping them up.  See below tip also.
  • You might find roots growing into your Compot because the surrounding soil is so dry that the plants are finding their way into the pot because that is where all the moisture and nutrients are.  Keep the water up to your plants or you might find it easier to move the pot to a better spot.  Alternately add water retention material to the soil (such as Zeolite) to make water available to the plants when the soil is dry.  If it is a big tree you might need to add soil conditioner as well until your pots have improved the soil sufficiently to retain water and not require further assistance.
  • Diatomaceous Earth can also help with water retention as it holds 200 times its weight in water.   Plus, it is a good bug controller.  But it can, of course, kill your good bugs as well.  So, use sparingly, and it must be dry to work.
  • If you have big dogs, I now recommend that you do not put meat in your Compot.   But if that is the only thing you must throw in your council bin then it’s not such a bad thing.   Most people feed their meat to their dogs.   See the below tip.
  • To the best of my knowledge fermented food waste deters most dogs but not all dogs, so you could try the method of filling your scrap bucket with your wastewater and letting it sit for a few days to ferment (if you have the time and space) before you empty it into your Compot.  The mixture of all the odours and the fermentation smell will generally keep most dogs away.     You may need to experiment with how long you need to soak your scraps for your dogs to stay away.  And you may find you need to leave meat out.   I have had dogs in my yard on numerous occasions and they have never gone near my pots but I do let my scraps ferment in water for quite a long time (mainly because I am too busy to empty them every few days, plus this saves me time – I only have to do it once a week or in my case – once every 2 or 4 weeks – yuk!.  lol )
  • Another tip and trick with dog waste is to put some of your dog’s poop in with your waste.  Many dogs don’t like the smell of their own poop so will not touch the Compot if it has their own poop in it.  But don’t do this in your veggie garden.  You can use the Compot just for disposing of dog poo on its own.  It works a treat but be sure to moisten the dog poo as the worms will not eat the dry waste and neither will the Soldier Flies.  The Compot works better if you mix some of your kitchen waste with your dog waste because it seems to give the bugs a variety of food to eat.  Thus, you can use your Compot for “ALL” your kitchen waste and animal excrement.  The choice is yours.  Experiment with your dog first to see if they go near fermented waste on top of the ground.  Then put a dollop of their dog waste on top of this waste.  If they want to roll in this mess, you will probably find that nothing will stop them digging up a Compot. But leaving meat out might work.   Several methods to test before you consider using a Compot with your dogs. Only you can know your dog. You can watch this video of a dog in my garden.
  • Another option is to put some beer in the Compot as the dogs don’t like the malt or fermented smell of the beer.  But I think that is a waste of good beer.  Maybe use old wasted beer.
  • Someone has told me that citronella oil will also deter the dogs.  They apparently hate the smell.  Spray some or pour some around your Compots and see what happens.  Let me know if you have any adverse results.  I have not had time to try this method yet, plus I think it is extra work.
  • -Or there is always the pepper and chili method.  Not very nice for the dogs though, as it burns their mouths and gives them diarrhoea.   And appears to be only a temporary fix.  Soaking my scraps for a few days so they ferment works for me and I am sure it will work for you if you leave the meat out and add some of their poo.
  • Plant a Compot in your chicken pen.  As the soldier fly larvae move in and out of the pot, they will provide great food for the chickens.   45% protein.  Or feed the larvae to your fish if you have any.  Best to get the larvae when they are white and not encased in their black shell ready to pupate into an adult or hibernate.  Try them for fishing bait as well.  I have a customer who swears by them.
  • Propagate Wheat on top of your Compot while in your Chook Pen.  Remove the Top when the wheat has grown and let the chocks help themselves.  Experiment with other greens for chooks as well.  Or plant the wheat directly on the ground or on top of a pot plant container filled with soil; cover with the Top; hold in place with the stakes; and uncover when the greens have grown.  Great if you can’t let your chickens run free in the yard.  Experiment with different greens.  With wheatgrass, if you let the seed ‘just’ sprout it is said to be full of protein but if you let it grow big and green it is said to be good for their eggs.  Check out the video in Martine’s garden with her chooks.
  • I now recommend to people that they use the “Above Ground Method of Composting” inside a chicken pen because some chickens have been known to dig up the Compot trying to get to the Soldier Fly Larvae. You can dispose of some of your chicken mess from inside their pen, around the Compot inside the pot plant container, but probably not all this waste as it can be a large quantity. Ideally also you do not want to soak your waste in your chook pen as this will deter the chooks from coming over the pot to help themselves to the Soldier Fly Larvae. And if you grow wheat grass for them on top of the Compot they are not likely to come near the wheat grass if they smell the fermented smell of waste. You can however grab the wheat grass in a bunch with your hand. The whole lot (soil and all) will come out of the lid easily in a paddy the shape of the lid. Just toss this paddy on the ground for the chickens to help themselves.
  • You can also remove the Soldier Fly Larvae with a trowel or your hand and toss them to the chickens if you want to. This works best with just bread inside the Compot as you get a nice white mixture of bread and larvae, so it is clean and easy to toss on the ground for the chickens. Watch this video to see what I mean about the bread and larvae mix. Composting with Black Soldier Flies For me I prefer the self-help method – less work. But work out what works best for you in your chicken pen. You might come up with a better idea.
  • When propagating in Summer it is best to do it under a nice cool shady area and water every 2 to 3 days.  I have found it too hot in Queensland to propagate in the sun and it dries out too quickly.  But it does depend on what you are trying to propagate.  Of course, in winter it doesn’t matter whether you propagate in the sun or the shade as the warmth from the compost below warms up the environment inside the TOP creating its own climate on top of the Compot like a glass house. But like all gardening it is trial an error depending on what you are trying to grow.
  • If you are finding little critters are digging around your pots it may be because you do not have them planted into the ground properly.  They should be level with the ground but if you have really bad soil and are not able to plant them level with the ground then place some chicken wire around the pot on top of the soil and hold it in place with the stakes.  This idea came from Shay.    The other thing, of course, is to soak your scraps so they ferment.  I know it keeps my bush turkeys away and Antechinus.  I have never had a rat or possum or anything dig excessively around my pots, or dig up my pots, except for one time when I put fresh pineapple skins in a pot that was not fully buried in the ground.  I learned my lesson.  Fermenting your waste will even keep raccoons away.  Though we don’t have them in Australia.  A Canadian customer told me this little tidbit.
  • Remember if you are putting meat in your pots, you must cover the Compot with grass clippings or hay, so the odours are filtered.  There should be no odour unless you are uncovering your pot to refill it, and this is usually only within the first week.  If you are just using veggie scraps you may find you don’t need to cover it at all.   However, I recommend it be covered to maintain the nice environment inside the Compot for all the little critters that are working away composting your waste. And to keep the light out. Most of the garden critters like the dark.
  • Remember to keep your soil as moist as you can so the worms can move around your garden.  They will die if the soil dries out and if there is no moisture around your pots.  Be sure to cover your garden (and your pot) with something to keep the moisture in your soil. I love my grass clippings and leaves because they are free. But you can use anything that can breathe and let water into your garden. Hay, straw, lucerne, coconut fibre, mulched palm fronds, hoop pine mulch, anything that is not too densely packed with soil and something that will break down over time. No fake bark or black plastic. Shredded Bamboo is fantastic as it takes a long time to break down, does not matt together, allows water through and looks neat and tidy on your garden. But it costs money. You can use sugar cane mulch if you don’t have a rat problem in your area. Otherwise stay away from sugar cane mulch as I am sure the sweet smell of molasses that is released from the sugar cane attracts the rats and then viola – they find food on tap. lol.
    And if using grass clippings and leaves (great carbon and nitrogen ratio) put some irrigation tape or pipe underneath the grass clippings as they will tend to matt together. This way the garden gets watered, nothing is lost to evaporation, the worms can break down the underneath layers and turn it into beautiful soil, and they are usually plentiful and free. Just keep topping them up each time you mow your lawn so they smother any little weed seeds that might be trying to germinate. I have less weeds in my garden where I use my grass clippings and leaves than I do in my lawn which is covered in weeds. Remember not to pile it too thick especially around the base of a tree or plant as it can ring bark the tree. A couple of inches thick is usually enough. You will get the odd weed, but they are usually easy to pull out as they have sprouted in the clippings and not the soil. Still the cheapest, easiest option in my humble opinion.
    Plus it breaks down really quickly and you don’t get those horrid little compost flies hanging around your garden like you do when you have a big pile of grass clipping rotting down in a compost bay. Best part of all – you don’t need to turn them like you do in a compost pile. So not only do they break down fast, but they also turn into beautiful soil without all the hard work usually associated with composting.
  • Worms, as a general rule, don’t like being in the pot with the soldier flies (in most instances) but they will come back in winter when the soldier flies have vacated after summer or are hibernating over winter.  If you only want worms in your pots, then you have to selectively feed your pots with WORM FRIENDLY FOOD only. Much the same way as you would with other composters, with only worm friendly waste.  Put all your other waste in another Compot and let the Soldier Flies live in there.  This way you can continually have a pot or two producing worms that you can move around your garden if you want or transplant somewhere else.  And remember they will take longer to decompose the food than the Soldier Flies as worms do not decompose food – they eat decomposed food. And they try to fill the pot up all the time with soil so you will find you have to empty them more often. Be aware that fresh waste and worms will attract any starving critter who is in your garden looking for food. I personally recommend you ferment your waste and attract the Soldier Fly to decompose your waste and let the worms live outside the pot in your garden. Some people seem to have luck with just worm friendly food, but most don’t. It all depends on your area and how you are using your pots. EG. I have a customer who puts them in raised garden beds with worm friendly food only and told me he has never had a rat problem. But that might work in his area and not yours. So just be aware of what can happen, so you know what to do if you find you have a rat problem.
  • Some people add cow manure to their pots to keep the worms happy.  I personally think you should add the cow manure to the surrounding soil, so you don’t waste good space in your Compot for scraps.  Experiment to find out what works best for your garden and conditions.
  • If adding worms to your Compots (especially baby worms) dig down the outside of your Compot and bury the worms gently in the soil.  If they are too close to the surface the birds and other critters will devour them as a delicious, tasty snack.  You can put them directly inside the Compot if you are only feeding your Pot with worm friendly food only and not all your kitchen waste.  Worms will eat anything that has decomposed enough – even citrus and onions.  They just don’t like this waste when it is fresh as the acid can burn their delicate skin.  And they will overeat meat and die if you are using your pot just for worms and you are putting meat in them.  Best to leave meat to the soldier flies.
  • When designing a new garden or replanting a tree somewhere, plant a Compot in the hole first.  Feed it for a month or two then let it sit for two weeks to partially decompose.  It should look like a big slushy mess and be full of Soldier Fly Larvae.  Remove your pot from the ground, check that the hole is big enough for your plant, (if not then make it bigger), upend the contents into the hole (bugs and all), toss in roughly an inch or two of dirt on top of the partially composted waste, and then plant your tree on top and back fill as you normally would when planting a tree.  The waste will now start to decompose slowly acting like a nutrient bomb under your plant for the next few months.  The Soldier Flies will find their way out by themselves and if not then they will become further compost.  And remember to water your plants. Everything needs water.
  • If you have really bad, sandy or clay soil, you will need to dig a slightly bigger hole and add some cheap potting mix in the base of the hole.  Plant your Compot, then back-fill with cheaper potting mix around the Compot.  Add worms to this layer of cheap potting mix and fill your Compot up with ‘ALL’ your kitchen waste.  As the worms move in, out and around the pots, they will mingle the bad soil in with the cheap potting mix and their castings, which will, over time, improve the soil.  It is very important to fill your pot up with ‘ALL’ your kitchen waste in this instance because if you fill it up with just worm friendly waste, the worms will live inside the pot where the food is and not move around the surrounding soil.  Therefore, this is less effective at improving your soil.  Check out the video on the video page.
  • Another really good tip and trick for bad clay or sandy soil is purchasing some Shredded Bamboo. It is not cheap but what it does in your soil is amazing. There are two ways you can use it. A. Directly on top of your Compot to cover the lid and spread it around your garden as a soil cover as well. B. When you dig the hole to put your Compot into, put the shredded Bamboo in the base of the hole instead of the cheap potting mix. You could use grass clippings and leaves or mulched-up branches, but grass clippings break down quickly. Mulched up branches are better than grass clippings as they take a long time to decompose but will improve your soil deep down without any hard work. The leaves take longer as do the mulched-up branches. The Shredded Bamboo takes a long time to break down, absorbs the excess water in the hole, aids aeration of the soil, improves the structure and texture of the soil, and breaks down slowly over time improving your soil deep down at the 30cm layer where your plants feed and where you are not likely to fix with simple top-dressing supplements. It is a much better long-term fix for bad clay or sandy soil. If you only put the shredded bamboo on top of the lid to cover your Compot the worms will carry the bamboo deep down to the base of the Compot. By putting it at the base of the Compot before you plant your pot saves the worms some extra work. And if you don’t have worms in your garden, you are fixing a job that they would normally do. It all depends how much effort and money you want to put into improving your bad soil. It is not an overnight fix, but it will absolutely improve your clay or sandy soil – as attested by several of my customers.
  • If you are a large family and don’t want to buy a lot of pots then you can get more use out of less pots by getting one of those big white buckets (about $8.00 at Mitre 10 , or free from many stores that throw them away or $2.00 or $3.00 on Facebook market place) and collect your scraps in that daily, along with all your wastewater so the scraps are always covered with water.  This should allow you to soak your scraps for probably 3 to 5 days or more (depending on the amount of waste you produce) so your scraps are fermenting and softening the whole time.  Then once a week go and fill up the pots that you have (you would need a minimum of 3 to 5 pots for a family of 4 or 5) and you will find they will hold a lot more waste when it has been soaking than when the waste is fresh and firm.   Make sure though that you keep the lid on the white bucket when you are collecting your scraps as you do not want this attracting house flies or vinegar flies.   I personally don’t like these big buckets because I find it hard to get the lids off once you get them on.  I have since found some with nice soft lids that are easy to remove.  Some people have tried them in the garden like the Compot, but they are too difficult to remove the lids – though a dog can rip the lid off easily.  Go figure.   But when you are collecting that much waste all at once it can get too smelly, so it is not the best solution, just an option.   I find it better to just have more pots around the garden. How you do it is up to you.
  • Another tip and trick to get more use out of less pots are to remove the contents inside the Compot when it looks like mashed potato (not like fresh food). It must be semi decomposed, or this method will not work. Get an old pot plant container (the size does not really matter as long as it has holes in the bottom) and fill this container halfway full of your semi-decomposed waste. Do not fill to the top or you are likely to attract animals who will try and dig it up. Cover the ‘half full pot of waste’ with grass clipping and leaves, weeds, soil, or any covering you are using on your garden as a mulch to hold moisture in your soil. (No sugar cane mulch) Now place your pot plant container anywhere you like in your garden. The worms will come up through the holes in the bottom and finish off the decomposing process and then remove the contents and soil back down into the ground. This is slower than the Soldier Flies but now gives you an empty Compot that you can fill up again with your freshly fermented waste. When the pot plant is empty you can fill it up again. This method can be useful for some people in winter who have run out of space in their pots as the pots have slower down due to the cold. Remember to make sure it looks liked mashed potato and not fresh waste.
  • The tip above is a little bit like the above ground method of composting except with the above ground method you can fill your Compot up with Freshly Fermented Waste as well as semi-decomposed waste. You could put some of the mashed potato waste around the pot when you first set up the above ground method like I did when I went to Sally’s house and found she had waste in her house that she had been collecting and it already had Soldier Fly larvae in it. They found her waste in her house it appears. Watch this video in “Sally’s Garden“. This is not something you would do all the time but in Sally’s case she only had one pot and too much waste. Ideally, she needed two pots for the amount of waste she had.
  • When using your Compot for your doggie doos or other animal excrement, (cats for instance) try and place it near a big old tree or dead space in your garden.  Rake the poo from the ground straight into the Compot and make sure there is some moisture in the poop, or it will just dry up and not decompose making it virtually impossible for the worms or Soldier Flies to eat.  You can add food waste to this if you want as well but make sure you have soaked the waste and fermented it to stop the dogs from digging it up.  And, like the Compot in your garden, cover it with some grass clippings to filter any odour and to keep the contents moist for the worms. Remember though – you need to know your dog. If they eat their own poop then nothing will stop them digging up the Compot. The only option then is to use the Above Ground Method in a container you dog can’t knock over. Or plant your pot somewhere that is not accessible to the dog.
  • If you have cat waste, I find it best to put the cat cwaps in the pot first and put your food waste on top of the cat waste as it can still smell a week later in your pots. Stinky stuff. If you are using compostable material to collect your cat droppings and urine you can use the Above Ground Method to dispose of the compostable material around the Compot. Keep the inside of the Compot for your cat cwaps and food waste to smother the horrid smell of the cat waste. I have not had time to test this method of putting the compostable cat material around the outside of the Compot, but there is no reason why it won’t work. It might need a good flush with some water to dilute the urine and wet the compostable material.
  • If you go away on holidays and come home to find your pots full or half full of dry soil, simply fill the Compots up with water to moisten the soil.  It will turn back to beautiful friable soil that you can scoop out and toss on your garden.  You now have an empty pot you can start filling again. Remember it is very rich soil (FRASS) so spread it around and do not put it around the base of a new seedling or you will find it may kill the seedling as it is too rich.