Surprise surprise!

This may come as a shock to you, but we had intentionally neglected our compost bins for 5 whole days, as we were curious to see what would result after that. In other words, we neither looked, observed, touched, nor attended to our compost bins for all 5 days.

This is another one of our attempts to compost the “lazy” way, assuming the position of unmotivated or disinterested Singaporeans with regards to recycling/composting. For more information on our “lazy” experiment, click here. You may also view the chronological updates of our “lazy” experiment here.

Before we divulge any details on this crazy (we know) 5-day thing, we would like to first recap the conditions of our bins before we “neglected” them:

  • Both bins were, as always, placed right outside our HDB apartment near our row of plants
  • Both bins were completely uncovered (we took away the lids) except for the “do not touch” labels
  • Both bins were left completely exposed and unprotected from Singapore’s weather and tropical conditions – we even allowed rainwater to freely fall in, and there had been really heavy downpours over the past few days!
  • Both bins contained hay as the top cover material – click here for more information
  • Both bins are propped up from the ground using simple plastic containers to improve aeration under and around the bins – click here for more information

If you are keen to make your own low-cost and handy compost bin like ours, you may view our video tutorials here.

Today, we are proud to say that the contents in the green compost bin have just turned 5 weeks old, while the contents in the pink compost bin are 3 weeks old. Usually, it takes between 3 to 6 months to compost in a tropical climate like Singapore. However, this time can be shortened when composting conditions are kept ideal. For more information, check out these simple ways to speed up the composting process.

(Note: We named our two compost bins as “green” and pink”, because each bin originally came with a green and pink lid respectively.)

Finally… We present the results of our neglect! 😉

Our two compost bins still sitting fine right outside our HDB apartment!

NO flies (except 1 or 2 small ones), NO bugs, NO odour!

Proving it further - we believe a picture like this speaks a thousand words

Look ma', no bugs!

A closer look at the ground. Yup, we are 100% sure - no bugs at all!

Even the top hay of both bins remained mostly dry. However, when you dig deeper into the bin, you would find the hay below to be slightly damp.

Hey wait! We noticed a small spider that suddenly visited one of our bins. But it left rather quickly. Perhaps there was just nothing for it to eat because of the top hay covering 😉

Well, that’s not all! We found more mushrooms inside the pink bin (the bin on the left). However, most of them had already grown and withered away – mushrooms usually have very short lifespans. Their fruit (the noticeable mushroom above the hay) serves to release spores. These spores grow into new mushrooms in ideal conditions.

For more information on our very first mushroom discovery in our compost bin, the purpose of mushrooms, and why they are great in composting, click here.

Top view of the left bin - you can see black withered mushrooms near the sides of the bin. Their black spores have darkened the hay directly below/around them.

A closer look at some of the mushrooms. They may look quite eeky because they are all withered up and dry. Their released spores are very dark in colour too, hence the black areas you see in this pictures.

Side view of our semi-translucent compost bin. Check out the long white stems of the mushrooms!

They are longer than my palm!

Surprised by the results? We are too!

In fact, we are highly encouraged, excited, and thrilled! You see, composting in Singapore happens even with neglect – and we don’t mean this in a very licentious way. Composting in/outside your apartment doesn’t mean you can just leave your food and household waste unattended, assuming that they will turn out manageable, non-intrusive, odourless and effective like ours.

In fact, composting without first setting proper conditions can yield really smelly and unwanted results. One of our earlier entries records a very strong stench coming out of our compost bins because it had become anaerobic (meaning the compost bins did not have enough air or oxygen in them). Moreover, there were noticeable number of flies because of the smell.

However, when we added hay to the top of both bins as a “cover” for all the compost materials, it acted as a really effective biofilter – all smells from the compost piles had been effectively filtered by the hay, thereby emerging into the air completely odourless. This also led to a fly-free and bug-free result! For more information on why and how we got hay, click here.

The hay also helped to keep warm compost temperatures in. This is highly ideal for composting, as a warm compost pile means an active compost pile.

With hay as the top cover material, we can hardly feel any warmth coming out of the compile bin. This is because hay acts as a good insulator, keeping warm temperatures from emitting out into the surroundings.

This picture was taken before we used hay as the top cover material. Without hay as the top cover material, we could actually feel some lukewarm temperatures coming out of the compost pile.

So we noticed that the pink (left) bin had exhibited some good results with the appearance of mushrooms – one of nature’s effective decomposers. What about the green (right) compost bin?

Contents in the green (right) compost bin

A closer look! You can see that the materials are gradually breaking down into "dark brown stuff". However, we can still recognise some newspapers and leaves.

Upon turning the compost bin around, we noticed some egg shells which still seem to be in their original form.

So we noticed that some of the material in the green (right) compost bin are still in their original form, especially the egg shells. But this is really normal as egg shells are high in carbon/calcium that take much longer to break down. If you prefer, you could crush the egg shells before adding them into the compost bin, but we decided not to as we wanted to create some air spaces inside the compost bin to aid an aerobic process.

That’s all we have for you in this entry! 🙂 We hope we have brought you greater and interesting insights about composting in Singapore (apartment), and how easy it really is. This also applies to anyone who lives in a tropical climate and would like to start composting the fuss-free and extremely low-cost way.

As aforementioned, we truly found hay to be an amazing material to add to our collection of ‘browns’. So we highly recommend you to use it too! Like us, you will be pleasantly surprised by its usefulness.

We promise more updates on our compost bins soon! By then, we hope to bring you some yummy goodness – otherwise known as “black gold” or fertiliser for plants 😉

Lastly, if you like what we are doing and our method of reducing the need for harmful incinerators and landfills, do support us on our Facebook page! Help us promote responsible and green living. Like you, we love Singapore. You and I can each play a part in sustaining our clean and green environment.

Have fun composting!

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2 responses »

  1. Famhike4 says:

    We live in a subtropical climate. We would love to start composting here, but we will be living here for only a year. Will we be able to compost in that time? We also live on an island where we get typhoons frequently (sometimes several times per month), and we have to bring all of our outdoor items indoors during thy typhoons. Do you have any tips?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Famhike4!

      We’re sorry for completely missing your comment till now. Thank you for reaching out to us with your query.

      Although we have very limited knowledge and experience about composting in subtropical climates, our guess is that organic wastes will break down considerably faster than temperate areas. Our household wastes have taken about 6 months to break down in a tropical climate, so it might be possible for you to compost within a year.

      To compost indoors (in view of the regular typhoons in your area), it would be more convenient to use composting worms (i.e. red wrigglers) to break down your wastes. They feed on wastes very quickly and turn them into high-grade fertiliser. Another alternative would be bokashi composting that can even be done right under your kitchen sink. We’re happy to say that there are plenty of amazing teaching resources online for these two types of indoor composting.

      Hope this helps, do feel free to ask us questions again in any of our social media links:

      Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/CompostingInSingapore
      Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/CompostingInSG
      Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/CompostingInSG

      Cheers 🙂

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