Maintaining a composting bin outside your home

If you put your food waste out for collection by the municipality  it will make a stink right across Colombo as it gets transported to you don’t know where. Inside a compost bin your food waste will decompose in a controlled way making you a good bit of rich soil at the same time.

You can maintain a compost bin even if you have just the tiniest bit of green space.

(If you are not the green thumb type but you expect your municipality, say CMC, to do its job, as it should, join the Colombo-Our-City network and get active)



  • A covered bin with holes on the side
  • Container with dry smallish leaves, sawdust or shredded paper
  • Container with rich soil (or buy a bag of compost)
  • A broom stick from an old broom
  • Kitchen waste collected separately in a bowl or a bucket



  •  First put a layer of soil in the bin. 

This will provide the microbes which actually do the composting. Microbes are not visible to the naked eye.

  • Then put a layer of leaves, saw dust or shredded paper

You need optimum moistness and an optimum carbon and nitrogen ratio for good composting. This mixture will help with that balance

Left over rice or fruit and vegetable waste is typically rather wet. Dry stuff such as dried leaves saw dust or newspaper can balance the wetness.

Fruit and vegetable waste or fish and meat waste is rich in nitrogen but low in carbon. Dry stuff is rich in carbon. Therefore dry leaves, saw dust of shredded newspaper are also good for balancing the nutrient for the microbes..

  • Tip your kitchen  waste into the bin

Ideally items should not be more than 1” in length, width or height.

  • Mix the contents with a handle from an old broom.

This will mix the contents and provide the aeration (or the oxygen needed by the microbes)

  • Cover the mixture with a layer of leaves and layer of  soil

This will keep away flies.

  • In 2-3 days touch the sides to check temperature.

You bin should feel warm to the touch. In the case of microbes you call the compost doctor if there is NO temperature. For the time being this facebook will be your compost doctor. Send us a chat message if you compost bin has got cold and flies started invading..

  • Keep adding food waste to the top, mix with old stuff and layer with leaves and/or soil

As the food waste gets composted it will reduce in volume. Every few weeks, use a shovel or an old spoon to remove compost from the bottom opening.

  • Keep out the rain

If you can’t find a sheltered space to keep the bin, make sure to lightly cover the bin in heavy rains to prevent  getting through the holes.


  • Read our post “How does composting work” to learn about microbes and how they decompose our food.


Microbes, like any pet you may keep, need a good balance of food (C:N at 30:1), oxygen and moisture. Overfeeding too is bad for them.  You need a sufficiently large microbe population  (i.e. old compost or soil ) to balance the food waste you put into the bin.


Too wet?  Mix in dry material

Too dry? Moisten with a spray of water

Too little air? Use the broom stick to aerate

Too much waste?Add more soil


Check out our informative video on composting by clicking here!

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