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After 4 years of trying to make decent compost in a dalek, I have given up, all i get is a horrible mush, Which is still ok for mulching, but a lot of hard/ dirty work.

To top it all i opened the lid a few weeks ago and a big rat was sat there, just sitting there not moving, so thats that, I emptied the bin and now use it for storage.

I am trying a new method, which is to dig an hole in the veg plot then fill with greens/browns, then cover with soil, does this work?

Woodgreen wonderboy

Compost needs air to rot down, so I am not sure if burying it would work. I have never heard of this method in a lifetime of studying it.

Good compost generation needs lots of material to really work, which is one reason why your dalek didn't work. Small amounts don't really work.

You also need a mix of nitrogen ( e.g grass) and carbon (e.g. Stalky material). Add some soil for bacteria.

Given the right mix, the right amount, some air and moisture your heap will begin to cook. The temperature will rise through aerobic bacterial activity. In essence the bacteria start to digest the material breaking it down. As they run out of oxygen the activity reduces, the bacteria die, and the heap cools. SO then you stir it all up, turn it over, and off you go again.


2ponds, the only time I know of digging a hole and putting compost material in is for a runner bean trench.  Where was your dalek placed, sunny area, did you turn it, what did you put material, not just grass, did you add many questions. Tell us what you did and maybe we can give help   Hope Roland has gone. 


Hi Woody didn't see you there


Hello thanks for replies, yes i did the green/ brown mix/ scrunched up cardboard, even turned it "hard work" should have had 2 daleks i suppose, turn one into the other.

Regarding runner beans, I do the trench thing, thats why i thought about the hole, I have read somewhere that  a hole in the ground is warmer and the material breaks down thru soil bugs/worms, when i am filling the hole i put soil in with it and mix it up, i wont know until spring? whether it works, but will post if so, 

Yes Roland has gone, never to return "hopefully". 


Please let us know how you get on 2ponds. Just one last question was your dalek standing on soil or hard surface?

I have 3 daleks and one doesn't rot down too well as the others but it is on a wet area. Dunno if that is the reason why it under performs.

It was standing on soil next to a beech hedge, it still got warmth from the sun part of the day.

I have watched monty don with his elaborate compost making method, "works great" but i dont have the room for all that. 

 Anything organic buried, rots down, thats my theory. 


Was just a thought 2ponds  Not many of us have the room & time Monty has to compost things. If nothing else you'll have a very fertile area in your garden. Had to be careful how I phrased that. Good luck


I have two wooden compost bins which have turned out really good compost over the past couple of years that we've been here.  They're on the ground in the shade under one of the ash trees - I put a base of twiggy stuff at the bottom to let air in, and build up layers of grass mowings, household peelings & cabbage leaves etc, cardboard and partially decayed  rotted-down leaves (see other thread about leaf-mold).  When I can get it from a colleague I also add guinea-pig poo which is a fantastic 'starter' but this won't be as easily avalable now that I've retired, so I shall be more reliant on the 'Recycled beer and cider' which my OH is happy to provide.  I cover the heap with big sheets of cardboard, stir it frequently and when I empty one bin I turn the other into the empty one.  That all seems to work really well. 


I do the same as Dove, i only use the daleks for storing once the compost is made in the wooden containers. I put all the junk mail, envelopes, mags, newspapers, etc. i dont fill them right to the top, thats the trouble putting it in the dalek, they are too tall and not wide enough.

You do need lots of worms, have a look and see if they are in there, if not, dig some up from your garden. A few shovels of soil from your garden will get it started quicker as it contains the bacteria you need. Get all the menfolk to pee in it.

 Dont use any more than a 2inch layer of grass clippings at a time and fork them in well.

Keep it moving and mr ratty wont want to bed down in it, they hate disturbance.


Long ago when we had a small garden with no room for a compost heap (pre-Daleks) I always used to dig a trench across the Veg patch, put all the composting material in it and when full, cover it over with the soil from the next trench and so on down the plot. It worked and the stuff disappeared into the soil with no trouble.

As long as the soil is not compacted then there should be enough oxygen (which the bacteria need) for the process to work.


I'm trawling the depths of my memory - I think I remember someone on GQT saying not to do this because when vegetable matter/grass clippings etc are dug into the soil they use up the available nitrogen in the soil in order to decompose, thus depriving your vegetables of the nitrogen they need.

Of course, if you had an area of veg plot that you could leave fallow while the stuff is rotting down that would be another matter. 


Well, I never had any problem with growing Veg on this system and that Veg patch fed us for the years we lived in that house.

Easy enough to add nitrogen to the soil in any case. Still better than throwing material away.

a friend of mine does the "hole in the ground" thing. He fills up the hole, covers with soil, and then excavates the compost - usually in spring. Seems to work for him, but for me sounds a bit back-breaking!

I've got a couple of daleks. When one is full I start filling the second and by the time that is full, the other one is usually cooked. I did find it took a while for my compost bins to get really active - now they take about 3 months in the summer but it used to be a lot longer. I think that's down to building up the worms and bacteria that do the work. I carefully transfer any worms into the uncooked bin and there is always some material that needs to go back in, presumably that means some of the microorganisms go back in too. And yes, "recycled beer" helps!


gardenning granny

Hole in the ground works well!  I have so much green waste in the autumn that once my daleks are full I excavate a trench in the veg patch and fill that, then replace the soil I dug out plus the excavated soil from the next trench alongside the first.  I add in the comfrey leaves left over from making liquid fertiliser, shredded paper from the study.....anything really.

In the spring I just dig it all over, and it's always full of fat juicy worms.

Good luck.


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