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Hosta, what part of the country are you in to have such a thin layer of soil? Are you half way up a mountain? I often plant things at the edge of the drive, and that is solid clay; I always know I'm in for several hours work with a crow bar


North Devon / Cornwall border. Yes , on top of a hill, but , on the plus side, I can see Dartmoor about 20 miles Eastish,  Bryn Tor 35 miles to the south and Bodmin around 30 miles westish, and I can't see a single house.

When the builders set the ground poles for the polytunnel they used as 6ft steel bar to break us solid rock before they could  insert them. bless'em.


I have to say, it's not all that bad. Some parts have a decent depth, but it's the finding which takes time. All part of the fun eh?


Just noticed this thread and it reminded me I have a compost bin to do something with. It's one that the Council "gave away" for £10 some years ago and I was keen, as I'd never composted and a few years earlier hadn't even been interested in gardening.

Anyway we did that thing of putting stuff in, seeing from the top that it shrank down, and wondering where it was all going. It was only this spring that a pest control officer, talking about mice, pointed out that all the compost was going straight into the soil beneath. The council leaflet didn't mention standing it on anything! D'oh.

She recommended leaving it a bit to let the most recent contributions rot down (which is what the mice were attracted to of course), then tipping it up to empty, and putting some fine mesh underneath before starting again. Does fine mesh sound a good thing to use, to you experts?

My other problem is that my health is poor - improving slowly, but it's taken 8 years so far and I'm still on disability - plus I'm newly single, and the garden is the bit of household management I'm not fitting in so far. This bin is one of the ugly plastic kind, with a lid you lift to put stuff in, and a little sliding door at the bottom to take the compost out. I can only get down to it (just like lower shelves etc) on a Good Day (and I try to clean the kitchen on Good Days). It hadn't even occurred to me to empty the whole lot in one go, as you're all talking about.

If I tip it on its side (I have a tarpaulin), is it worth carrying on with this bin or using the opportunity to start something better designed? and if the latter, what design? but if the former, should it stand on mesh or something else?

Oh, and it's a bit too near the house for an open compost heap, I do want to be able to enclose it completely with lid or whatever. But there is space for two bins, or there can be anyway, and I do have a second identical bin somewhere - because the council delivered two. They can't count application forms or £10 cheques, evidently, but didn't want the extra one back.


Mandicore, so sorry to hear that you have health problems. I think you are a star to even think of composting.

If you can manage it, 2 bins are better than one; so one is cooking while you fill the other.

You need fine but HEAVY duty wire mesh, or a solid base; some bins do have them I believe, but access to earth is better. If you can get one of the compost turning devices and are able to use it that would also deter any vermin.

Hope this helps


Hi Artjak, thanks for replying!

I don't know about a star, it's easier than using the wheely bin for all the extra peelings and loo rolls which would double its contents! (and it's only emptied fortnightly.) Easier at the putting-in stage anyway.

Well, I do have the two plastic bins. At least from memory there's one round the back somewhere! I can manage most things by catching the moment, it's a very fluctuating thing - and oddly, despite general lower capacity (therefore lower activity), my basic muscle strength is still almost as good as ever - when it's there at all.that is.

So on the whole, the big challenge is setting things up in the first place, and once they're set up I'm fine. So the long-term project is to get everything arranged for easy-care gardening and then I'll be rolling. Such as raised beds, which will be a dream come true - one day!

I have some mesh which I bought by mistake for something else (on eBay) ... as you do It's pretty fine but I don't know what counts as heavy duty. I'll fish it out tomorrow, I hope, and if I can't decide I'll do my best to describe. There may be enough to use 2 or 3 layers.

A compost turning device I also hadn't thought of - the bin would require a step ladder for that job. Nothing stopping that except a bit of hedge-pruning. Do you mean one of those things that look like pitchforks, or something more mechanical? I may have to settle for the wiggle technique (in this thread, lol) for a while.

Slightly off topic but it seems this is where all the compost expert are


I have been given the opportunity to help myself to a compost bin, one of these...


It is completely full to the top and the top 1" looks lovely compost, now I know this hasn't moved or been added too in at least the last 18 months and so god knows what's beneath the top 1". Will it all be ok to use? I'm hoping it will give me a good 75-100 litres of great compost?

I would say it will be good... But until you have a look you will not know!

Chris 65 I would think it would be ok

Mandicore; several layers of mesh would be good. I'm afraid I don't understand what you said about needing a stepladder?  The compost turning devices, just google them and some will come up for under a tenner. I got mine from the Centre for Alternative Technology some time back.


I think the stepladder would be an individual thing Mandicore depending on how tall you are to reach easily into the bin / where your strength is (for instance I have no strength the moment I lift my arms so would be better on a step instead of leaning into the bin to twist my wiggle stick).

I started off with one compost bin. I've now got four and a wormery! Hoping for some useful compost this year to spread on the vegetable patch.

@Artjak, all I meant was reaching in from the top of the bin as Clarington suggests. I'm not sure why they make the top that bit narrower than the bottom, so the lid is effectivley smaller - like a sugar bowl rather than soup bowl. (Now that conjures up a *horrible* dinnertime.)

    I think the stepladder would be an individual thing Mandicore depending on how tall you are to reach easily into the bin / where your strength is (for instance I have no strength the moment I lift my arms so would be better on a step instead of leaning into the bin to twist my wiggle stick).

Yep, that's what I meant. but it wasn't be clear to the non-achy!


    I started off with one compost bin. I've now got four and a wormery! Hoping for some useful compost this year to spread on the vegetable patch.

I'm impressed! I did once get enthusiastic for a wormery after reading a booklet. But I'm a fickle serial obsesser, and once committed you can't just take a week off when the whim departs - ormore accurately when another whim arrives. So instead, i wrote a poem about reading the booklet in a café.

By the way, is it possible to get at the html (or bbcode or whatever)? I just made a tangle of blockquote!



Mandicore; I am not a techy so cannot help with 'html'.

Have a look at compost turners; the 2 I've seen are either auger in shape or arrow. I have an arrow one but I am pretty strong in my arms (years of being up a ladder/scaffold tower and painting with my arms up in the air!) depending on how your strength is working you may prefer the auger.

Steve 309

Some great composters out there by the sound of it.

I'm frustrated at the garden where I work as I don't have time to set up a proper row of three heaps - just two at the moment and they're not adjacent.  And my "helpers" tend to add dock roots, Coke cans and plastic bags, none of which help much

This little rant was precipitated by my starting to turn the heap today and finding a load of rubbish in there.  But the bottom half (it's been there since last summer) contains some usable stuff, some of which has already gone onto the sweetcorn/squash bed, so it's not all bad news!

Oh for a hot heap!


Steve, I am just contemplating a 3rd bin

May I suggest that you do a sign with images of plastic bags and tins, with big red crosses on them and images of plant material, t-bags, cardboard etc with a big green tick on them? You could make it amusing too, (images of sofas/ legs of lamb/ cars) that your 'helpers' get the picture It could be done on cardboard and then laminated.

Those signs are a GOOD idea.

And yes, I'll look at compost turners. This week I'm looking at the Green Deal which is enough shopping around for me for a few days! but now I know what I'm thinking of re the composting - thank you


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