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The Smelly Bucket

May 14, 2024

Why do I still find myself bracing and turning my head away every time I open the compost lid?

 It has gone on for nearly 20 years. However, I have never actually met with any foul smells. It’s the sight of food scraps sitting amongst worms and other bits and pieces that look like they should smell.  

My husband grew up on a farm, and they used to call their food scrap bucket the “smelly bucket.” Again, I don’t know if it ever really smelled that bad, but the chore of taking it out was a guaranteed argument.    

Living here in Hawkesbury, our area is ideal for the many things we can do with our food waste, whether you’re on a residential property or a farm. Our Council does not yet offer the FOGO service, where you can use the green wheelie bin to put your food scraps in with your garden waste, but there is no need. We can make good use of our food scraps in our home garden or in our paddocks.  

I have fiddled with small worm farms for years but finally purchased a large AeroBin using a council discount through the Compost Revolution. At first, I felt like it was filling up too quickly, but once I got the mix of food waste, carbon (e.g. paper), and moisture content right—it really started to hum.  

Down at our farm, we don’t produce a lot of food scraps, but having a dedicated compost bay behind the shed for manure, grass clippings, leaves, and dead plants works a treat. I wish I had a bobcat to turn this mounting pile of goodness, but, alas, turning a pitchfork into it occasionally will ultimately do the trick.

I look forward to Winter when I will finally get a chance to spread this composted mixture onto my paddocks. From what I have gathered through the years, just adding fully broken-down composted organic matter to the top of my soil will bring teeming life down below. 

I love it. It is simple and a very low-maintenance approach to improving my pasture. All I need is compost, time, that bobcat (in an ideal world), and a bit of muscle. I won’t fend any weeds away (although some may argue I will), but by spreading compost, I will improve my soil health, improving the grass my animals graze on. That feels like an easy win.   

Separating food scraps for composting might already be second nature to you, or you might divert them to a chook bucket instead. What I have found through the years is that once I started to separate food scraps from everything else, it felt strange not to do so.  

If you have ever wanted to try composting but didn’t know where to start, I would go to They have a discount with most Councils, including ours. There is also, where you can link up with a local network of keen composters and have them pick up and compost your food waste for you. 

So why bother with all of this? 


I use this “free fertiliser” at home in my veggie patch and garden. Down at the paddocks, I am readying my compost heap for a big spread before I sow my Winter seed mix. With the amount our area cops in terms of floods, bushfires, PFAS, and God only knows what else, I think, at the very least, improving my pasture is a step in the right direction.   

Happy gardening. Better yet, happy composting.  

All the best, 

C W McGregor

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