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We have a nice size garden in South East London- but not big enough to have a compost area with large open containers like Monty Don has! 

I'd love to compost our waste as at the moment the council is taking our waste away and I am buying compost!

I don't know anyone with one so I'd be grateful to hear  peoples opinions about which models/ brands of compost bins (that are enclosed) are good?

Ease of use is important - plus for the smell to be contained.




I used to have a small compost bin (the green plastic type with an access door at the bottom) in my small garden but it was such a pain and eyesore really as I could not hide it.It filled up very quickly and then I had nowhere to put other compostable stuff.It was also not a nice job trying to get the stuff out especially as I did not have much space to work in.

In the end I gave up and scrapped it completely.The compostable waste is taken by the council for recycling and I do buy the stuff back as compost! Sometimes you just have to accept that what you want is not really practical.

Space is at a premium in a small garden and where the compost bin once stood I now have a nice seating area from which to see my garden.


Good, properly made, compost has no smell other than that of earth and leaves. Some things, such as citrus skins, putrefy and smell awful but most things don't.

I have never tried a totally enclosed compost system but nothing put into it should come put smelling bad if it works properly.

Agree with pansyface.....compost heaps should not really smell.  

I have 2 a small bought one.  The other a home made large one that makes much better compost.  I emptied smaller one this morning and used it on veg patch.

it is very difficult to properly heat a heap unless it is turned regularly and mixed now and then but I rarely do that.  The other downside is that rats can be encouraged unless a tight fitting lid is added.  And rats can and do home in on compost heaps....for the food and for the warmth.  

There is nothing wrong in not having a compost heap if your garden is small but if you can it's a good thing.  Remember IS work if you want a clean, effective compost bin 

I intend to add another heap but siting it is a poser.  


Green Johanna.    My council subsidizes it so it was only £25 including delivery and aerator. Check with your council and see if they offer something similar.  It's tough to turn but if you get a winged or corkscrew aerator it works.  It has a lid that turns to stay on completely and it has a base so it's pretty secure against rodents. And yet I've always had mine on paving but it is still filled with worms and woodlice etc.  They find it somehow!  I find I have to dig into the center to find the compost.  If you do that twice a year or so, you can remove the nearly made compost and put it somewhere else to mature. (It won't be recognisable as vegetables etc anymore but may still be a bit squidgy. )  It comes in ringed sections which are screwed together. You can pretty easily unscrew the top half to make it easier to get to if you want.  I love composting.  My husband laughs at me but I find it really cool that our rubbish turns into something good.



I bought a council "dalek" years ago from Surrey then topped up with one from Cambridgeshire many years later.  In my last garden, which was small, I had three slots and two compost bins.  

I'd rotate by taking the dalek off and putting it in the space then moving the contents back into it.  Then I'd do the same with the other one into the space I'd just made.  Any compost that was ready either went on the garden or into bags and stored behind the shed.

I found that it quite quickly rotted down and made room for more waste, I sited them on soil and they were in a south facing position.

I have the same system in my bigger garden but I sent off for another 4 daleks so I now have them in two sets of three with two spaces.  I keep bags of "brown" to one side such as pampas grass clippings and stuff that's been through the chopper.  I have a lot of grass clippings so I'm always sure to mix on the way in and I throw in some soil now and again too.

I'm happy with the system, it works for me.


I think it depends on how 'small' you think your garden is!

If I had 3 dalek bins I would have no room to garden in,my one was too much!


Yes of course you're right Madpenguin, the garden I had when I bought the first dalek was very small but that was where I learned to leave space for two and turn it into the free space.  I have to admit that if you only have room for one (two spaces) you won't get much out of it - you will, but it will take a while and new gets mixed up with old.  However, two, and three spaces was very successful I thought.

Gardener Eve asked for feedback about different types of composting ... do we have any wormery people listening?  I've never tried those tumble bin things, anyone had success?


I have 2 plastic freebies from the council, only because other people did'nt want them.I hide them under a nice Acer tree at the top of the garden, they are hidden most of the year by planting.So long as I turn and mix often, the compost turns out good. Must admit they have been on the uggly pills but they look better than my previous attempts at making one.


 MP I was wondering about compost that you can  buy back. Is there a danger of spreading pernicious weeds like mare' s tail etc or do they sterilise it and if they do would you trust them to do it properly?


I don't buy the council stuff B3 as there's japanese knotweed in this area and I dont trust that people do not put it in - either by accident or knowingly.


Sounds like a sensible precaution to me, S.


I have never had any problem with the council compost here on the Isle of Wight.As far as I know it is not sterilised.There must be 3 tons of the stuff put on my garden over the last 13 years.My garden had marestail when I arrived but that has been eradicated,I am lucky in that I don't have any pernicious weeds.I had some local topsoil for the garden this year but it only produced annual weeds which were quickly got rid of.We do have JK on some parts of the Island but not heard of it being a problem in compost.


Have you considered a compost tumbler? Easy to turn, aerobic & virtually no smells.

Sited in full sun and activated with a shovelful of garden soil, they can be quick to work.


I can't get on with the dalek type bins (too difficult to get compost out at the bottom) or with the wooden open bins (didn't like the mice nesting in there). I now have these modular compost bins which are excellent.

They are very expensive to buy from here - but I got mine for £15 each via a local authority promotion for home-composting.

They are now about 15 years old and as sturdy as ever. You can remove / open the sides up completely which makes turning the compost and digging it out as easy as with an old fashioned compost heap. If you get the mix right and are prepared to shred / mow material you can make coarse compost in a season (6 months) or finer compost in 9 - 12 months. They take a lot of stuff! 

I have a medium sized garden (1/3 rd of an acre) with equal size front and rear gardens and use a total of 4 bins in 2 lots of 2 - two out front - two in the back. They are tucked away in corners. I can usually be using compost from one bin while the other is filling & cooking. When the usable compost bin is empty I turn the 'new' bin into the empty bin and leave it to cook a bit longer. 

The bins are no more unattractive than other plastic bins but definitely easier to use. I have never had a problem with vermin in these bins.

I don't use the council produced compost for the same reason as Snoodle.



I have a friend who swears that the council compost can only be considered soil improver and it is advertised as such, whereas everything you read or see on TV about home-made compost bills it as nutrition rich.

I had a newly built raised bed that the contractor filled with council compost and it did nicely for the first couple of years then I realised that it needed digging out and refreshing.  This might be true for all raised beds, I don't know, that was my first one and I've moved now.

What do other people think about the nutritional value of Council Compost, is it really just a soil conditioner?  I can't see how it can be.


I have always used mine as a soil improver.My garden is heavy clay and I used it to give it a bit of fribility.



Garden compost makes great worm food. It's the worms that turn it into super-rich plant food.


With my Dalek type, just lift the thing off and turn the compost, stick it back in no hard work.


It is  a soil conditioner but  still high in nutrients.  What they mean is that it is not supposed to be a growing medium in itself.  Perhaps because it's too high in nutrients.   The company that makes and sells the compost in my area tell you what the composition of it is.    I think they say "use as soil conditioner" because in this country you use "compost" to mean what in America they would call "potting soil" as well as the result of composting, which is too rich to use as a growing medium. (Note that Monty Don always mixes garden compost with grit and leaf mould to give it more fiber.) Plants grow best over the long term with actual soil because it needs the minerals as well as the organic matter. All raised beds/containers will need refreshing after a time. Most gardens tend to be be overly fertilised, which can cause water pollution from run-off.

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