Which Home Compost Bins are Best?
WHICH HOME COMPOST BINS ARE BEST?
If you buy new timber to make a compost box, choose wood that has not been treated with chemical preservatives.
As long as you can keep it warm, moist and aerated, and get at your finished compost, any container will do. Be inventive and make recycled compost containers from old plastic dustbins, discarded pallets or disused building materials.
Make sure all materials are shredded, not too moist or dry, and watch the carbon/nitrogen ratio. You can get up to ten full bins of compost in one year using this method:
Week 1: Build a traditional layered hot heap in the centre bin, spread a layer of chopped leaves or straw in the adjoining holding bin and throw in kitchen and garden scraps daily.
Weeks 2, 3, 4, 5: Turn the centre heap. Keep adding daily to the holding pile.
Week 6: Move the centre pile into the end bin. Move the holding pile into the centre bin, mixing all the materials well. Start a new pile in the original holding bin.
Weeks 7 and 8: Turn the centre heap. Keep adding to the new holding pile. Turn the end heap.
Week 9: Check the compost in the end bin. It should be ready to use in the garden.
Continue the cycle for a permanent supply of compost. It will take longer in winter, and if your supply dries up or tapers off for a while cover the maturing heaps with carpet or straw until things can speed up again.
CAGES AND METAL BINS FOR HOME COMPOSTING
Any old iron?
Four sheets of corrugated iron nailed to sturdy posts, makes an excellent container. Drill a few lines of holes in the sides to encourage aeration, and stand on bare ground, then add garden and kitchen scraps as you have them.
PLASTIC COMPOST BINS AND TUMBLERS
The main advantages of tumblers are speed and good heating, so weed seeds and diseases are killed.
Tumblers are self-contained so there is no risk of attracting vermin, and they can be used where there is no bare earth to site a heap or conventional bin. However, tumblers can be heavy to turn, and will not produce good compost unless they are turned regularly to ensure aeration.
WHAT DOES COMPOST NEED?
Commercial tumbler bins are designed for easy turning and aeration, and can produce finished compost in less than a month.
HOW SHOULD YOU USE YOUR HOME COMPOST?
Compost is mature when it has largely stopped decomposing — when the main bacteria have done their jobs and died.
Compost structures can be temporary or moveable, they can be beautiful and permanent. What you choose depends on your needs,as well as time, money and DIY skills.