Start a new thread

21 to 34 of 34 replies

Yellowgrass, everything will rot one way or another, using a bin you will have to turn your waste materials as there will be no natural circulation of air, with this method you will have to keep a check on the moisture levels, if it gets over wet mix in torn up cardboard or shredded paper, if you have moles near to you collect the mole hill earth and mix this in, the soil has natural bacteria in it and will help with the decomposing. Avoid fats or meat from the Sunday roast etc as this only attracts vermin, it will rot down eventually but there is also a chance of smells with this type of material. When you come to using the compost in your bin you will need to turn the bin out onto a plastic sheet to separate the well rotted from the partly rotted, returning this material back into the bin to complete the rotting down process. You don't have to do anything in the way of converting the bin, just use it as is.

Hi Yellow grass, I am using a waterbutt that started leaking due to frost damage(when we had temps. of -15 degrees!). I just cut the base away, and it works fine. As with solid "dalek" bins, the compost needs turning occasionally. But it doesn't matter that much, as, if you don't get round to turning the compost it takes a little longer to mature. I have not been doing it lately and have noticed the difference.

By the way, I use the cut off bottom of the waterbutt as a potting tray, which is just right when I am sitting on the lawn in the sun doing the potting up. You could do the same with your container. As long as there is good drainage any container would be OK . Enjoy


Steve 309
ChipsMaguire wrote (see)
Hi I'm making a couple of compost bins out of wood, does there have to be gaps between the slats or can I make it solid? After all aren't most of the plastic composters solid? Any help on this would be much appreciated.

You need some gaps, at least at the bottom, to let air in.  The standard sort of design (no doubt someone will come up with a photo) has removable slats at the front so you can fill and empty the bin easily; I leave gaps between the bottom few by propping them up with bits of wood.

Someone asked about rats, and where to put the bins.  You're less likely to get rats if you keep out meat and any cooked food (i.e. plate waste) although you will probably get mice and/or voles when the heap's not too hot.  But just in case - and to minimise the effect of any smells - most people have their compost bins well away from the house.  Behind the shed is good, but you must have plenty of space around them.

Tricia Muddyboots

I make my two compost bins out of chicken wire wrapped around stakes, lined with cardboard which rots and I replace each year.  I don't turn them, but when I need to use the compost I put the top layer into the new bin and use the bottom half of nice fine compost.  I think a piece of carpet on top would make it compost more quickly and better.  My compost heaps have never smelt: I only ever add vegetable material.


Ask local builders as they do jobs in your area if you can have their pallets

take them apart ( you will need muscles and a crow bar ) and then build two so you can move compost on to the next one as a previous Allotmenteer said

I made a frame for the top and nailed thick plastic sheeting onto a hinged lid

Plastic and wire netting to go on the earth inside and out to stop weeds and rats

If you check on Google you can find the best atmosphere for rotting down rain no light

Lets us know how you get on please


I'm confused! Newboy2 says no rain no light is the best atmosphere for composting, but this pallet system will have lots of both as it has no lid. Does it matter if it doesn't have a lid?

Steve 309

The compost needs to be very moist to start with but not allowed to be saturated with rain, nor to dry out.  So it needs some sort of lid: most people use old carpet or something of that nature.  Thick cardboard maybe.  Or you could build one out of wood and even hinge it if you have the inclination. 

Light is irrelevant, except that it might allow weedlings etc. to get going....which might actually be useful, as it'd let you remove them.

Air is essential.  Gaps near the bottom to let it in; brushwood etc. under the compost material to let it spread and chimneys (formed when you remove the posts you stand in there when you build it) to encourage it to flow upwards.

Sorry to go on, but it's my favourite topic

Thank you Steve 309, that is all very helpful!! I have read lots about composting, but some of it can be contradictory. I have a large compost bin that has been on the go about a year now, but would like to try the pallet method. I saw it on Gardeners world last year at long meadow. Monty has 3 sections, one for stuff waiting (to be shredded I think?), one for composting and then I think he turned the composting stuff over into the third section which is the lot that got used once it had broken down sufficiently. I have been composting for years, but I seem to always end up with stuff that has not broken down enough at the bottom, so I am doing something wrong, maybe not cutting things up enough maybe? A friend of mine has stopped putting paper and teabags into his bin, he reckons that paper now has other things added to it, and it does not break down well anymore. I must admit I do have complete teabags at the bottom of my in, that have been there a year.


Steve 309

The idea is that you pile stuff into the first bin, turn it into the second and turn it again into the third; use it from the last bin.  If it's chopped up, not too woody, moist and - crucially - has a mix of green and brown stuff, it should rot.  Turning it helps mix it up and also gets more air into it.  And gives you an opportunity to remove all the crap that's found its way in there.  Plastic teabags, plastic plant labels, plastic bags (including the supposedly biodegradable ones), stones, lumps of wood, lost tools, etc etc.

In theory you're supposed to store all the material separately till you have enough to make the whole heap in one go but that's impracticable unless you have an enormous garden.  I tried it once in a NT garden and it worked brilliantly but never managed it in a normal sized one.

I use use pallets in the same way, except I place a pallet on the ground to allow air to get in from the bottom. You cant have too much air for good compost!
I dont use the stakes in the ground I just connect the corners up with wire. I have at least two bins side by side. When one is full I start on the other. In this way I make about a ton a year.
Compost made well should always smell pleasant.
Good Luck
When I have used pallets for compost bins I found that the material at the outer edges didn't rot down so agree with connie-g's method of lining with cardboard and it then works better.
Re Chips' question - solid sides definitely work better.
I have made compost bins from pallets for years. If you have level ground where you want to put the bin you dont need stakes just put the four sides together and use some wire to hold the corners together. Its good if you have some help in holding them up till you get them all wired up.
I thought it was Ok to put in potato peel and other unused vegetable matter in to a compost bin as long as it wasn't cooked. The photo in the video clearly shows raw peelings.
Can anyone clarify this for me?

Yes, it's fine to use uncooked vegetable peelings etc in the compost - my only caveat would be if you find rats are setting up home there - then I would not use potato as rats love them.  Otherwise it's fine - building up in layers with other materials as has been described, and stirring and aerating frequently.

Sign up or log in to post a reply