Talkback: How to build a compost binJump to latest post
21 to 35 of 35 replies
21 to 35 of 35 replies
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
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.
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 stuff.....no rain no light
Lets us know how you get on please
Compost bins are a living ecosystem in themselves and as such, need oxygen to perform at their best. There should never be a sour smell as this indicates a problem.
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?
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.
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.
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.