Edited to add: Just looking back, I've realised that due to a major senior moment, this post is pretty much a rehash of my previous post- a lot of the questions were asked and answered- thanks for the replies. The update is drilling the holes in the barrel, which will hopefully let roots and earthworms in, and effluent out, but keep burrowing rats out. I'd still welcome suggestions about what to plant in the vicinity.
I'm currently experimenting with composting solutions, but approaching them as a waste management solution, rather than a source of a product- I'm hoping that I can get greedy plant roots and earthworms to do the harvesting of the compost, and reduce the amount of intervention required. The immediate problem is that at the Off-Grid site where I hang out, food is abundant- the pickings are good for out of date supermarket food, but unfortunately there is a major rat problem, and I want to hit their food source. The setup so far is: a 200 litre barrel with 20mm holes drilled in the bottom buried about 300mm deep in woodchips. I've added perforated lengths of guttering round the inner surface, and a length of perforated 100mm drainage pipe in the middle to aerate the system, and put a heavy lid on top. I've chucked in a load of kitchen scraps, and so far, there seems to be a bit of heat, and volume reduction. The soil in the area is mostly clay, but with a long term project to mulch with woodchips.
Have I started on the right track, or the road to hell?
My questions are:
What should I/ shouldn't I add to the recipe? Remember, the primary objective is rat-proof food waste disposal- green waste can go into an open frame composter.
The abundant resources on site include: Tree surgeon woodchips- probably too slow to decompose, cardboard, straw, and pissoir charcoal. I'm especially anxious to get charcoal into the ground.
What should I plant in the vicinity- I'm looking for something with greedy roots that thrives well in the shade?
Do I need to add earthworms, or will they just turn up? What is their optimum depth? How do I create a heaven for earthworms, and a hell for rats?