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04/01/2013 at 22:32
I have been looking at composting loads in the past week or so. I know what goes in it now and what does not. However, I have read some articles which say have the bin raised so air can go through, some that say it should be on the ground and others that say it should be on slabs. Whats your personal experience and opinions please???
05/01/2013 at 12:08

Sam, my two compost bins are on the ground and did have wire mesh across the bottom that was over twenty years ago, when I bottom out it has gone so I start with twiggy stuff that gives air space.
The boxes are square made of wooden slats on a frame with very slight gaps between the slats to let air in at all levels although the best way is to turn the compost mixing it well as you go. The boxes have lids.
People say leaving air gaps lets rats in, my answer to that is in all my years I have never once seen a rat, that could be because I always had terriers who had the run of the garden.
To sum up, on the ground or on slabs does not matter. If you have some small gap in the sides, drilled holes, a cut hole with fine wire over it or leave air gaps in the slats air will be drawn in by the heat of the compost and as I keep saying on here AIR HEAT MOISTURE, that is the secret of good compost, the hotter it is the sooner you can use it.

Frank.

05/01/2013 at 13:34

That's great Frank. Thank you. I keep hearing about these rats and it did put me off but I have now gone and made on which sits on an old pallet with small gaps underneath. There seems to be so many ways of doing it and I don't want to waste my time doing something and finding its wrong. I really appreciate all your help  and advice on composting. I feel happier now 

Thank you again.

05/01/2013 at 15:40

Hi Sam, There's a bit of a myth that composting is difficult, but it really isn't.  The simple trick is to turn it often, so it gets regularly mixed.  Doing that will ensure it breaks-down evenly and quickly.  It is hard work, but skimp doing it and it will take two or three times longer and will still have some uncomposted material in it.  It needs to be damp but not wet, so cover it to prevent rainfall making it all into a soggy mess.

In scientific terms, if it gets too wet and isn't turned, the 'good' air-loving (aerobic) bacteria which do the composting will die-off and be replaced with anaerobic (air-hating) types which operate much more slowly and are what make some compost heaps smell nasty. 

05/01/2013 at 16:47

Ahhh right. Thanks Bob, Well I have thinned out my brown stuff as there was too much in it and am now keeping a separate bin for kitchen peelings and a separate one for my garden green leaf and weed (Not perennial as I'm guessing they don't go in?) ready to mix when they are a little fuller. It costs me a fortune for my compost so decided that this year I am having a go at making my own  I don't mean to pester folks, its just I have no idea about this side of things.

05/01/2013 at 17:16

Sam, it is not pestering it is a search for knowledge, we all do it one way or another, sharing experience is what it is about.
I will answer the same question on the board time and again because the people asking either do not know or do not know how to find the answer. I have a well used stock of books ancient and modern plus having learnt gardening at my Fathers side many moons ago now.
Always happy to share that knowledge Sam and as to compost it is not quantum physics it is common sense and the three golden rules, air heat and moisture and as Bob says a good hefty turning now and again, better than a weekend at the Gym.

Frank.

05/01/2013 at 17:23

This seems to be the case Frank  Thank you. I am very grateful for the advice. I worked for my dad as a landscaper for many years but composting is something we never had to do as the clients would sort that. I'm looking forward to being able to use my own this year. Its already becoming a bit of an obsession lol.

05/01/2013 at 19:18

I've been chucking things in a darlek looking one (called Monty) for nearly a year now and that's all I have done apart from giving it a bit of shake every now and again.

It's in a hot position and has plenty of air but I haven't turned it so it has taken a lot longer to rot down than expected.

However I was pleased that today on lifting it and removing the contents at the bottom, it resembled compost, smelt of compost, felt like compost ( if a bit chunky) and has now been used in the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05/01/2013 at 21:55

Hollie everything given time will eventually rot down, the large industrial heaps will rot down in six weeks, they have lots of heat and turned on a regular basis with a JCB.
I would expect good compost in three months Spring and Summer, six months Autumn Winter.
Well done on getting compost although had you turned the bin out onto a plastic sheet shaken it up and put it back you could possibly have had compost in six months.
Not everything will rot quickly so I shovel my compost through a sieve throwing the lumps back into the bin, it will make compost in time.

Frank.

05/01/2013 at 22:10

 I also have a darlex type large compost bin, which tomorrow i will follow Frank advice and empty it out, give it a good stir and then replace it, hopefully there will be something i can use as i havent emptied it since July.

thanks all

05/01/2013 at 22:40

If it looks like compost, smells like compost, feels like compost, then Hurrah! it is compost. I think with time; a couple of years perhaps, one does get a good feel for what goes in the bin. It is like learning how to make, for example, a cake or bread. The first few times you need to follow a recipe. Then you start to feel a bit confident; you start to understand the principles behind the recipe; and then you can start branching out on your own - inventing your own recipes.

05/01/2013 at 22:51

Frank, I am feeling very pleased,but yes, I'm in no doubt that you are right about the necessity of turning it.

Are you saying a 3 month turn around?

06/01/2013 at 11:15

Hollie, you have a right to be pleased, you did what a lot of people fail to do simply because they forget it.
All things need some help and compost definitely does. When you have a spare half hour tip it all out mix it and put it back, with a Dalek once a month although it would depend on how much new stuff you add in that time, once it is fairly full let it take its course.
That really is the reason I have two on the go one to fill one to use, Monty has four and tosses it from one to the other down the line to get perfect compost. My Son has one long one, plenty of room in the farm yard and adds the new stuff to the front we take the old from the back. It all works the Dalek being the basic takes longer, I would expect compost from it in six months as you tell us it is where it can get the sun to warm it up.
The one thing you should not do is use it for seed trays unless you can sterilie it, another story.

Frank.

06/01/2013 at 11:27
Good on you hollie. Job well done Even if mine produces a little...its a step in the right direction. Can it be mixed in the bin?
06/01/2013 at 11:42

Sam there are a couple of 'cheats' that will make it work quicker, I add in small quantities of soil from the garden or horse manure or old compost from containers that are full of roots etc. 

06/01/2013 at 11:50
Now I have heard of that. Its just a couple of trowel fulls yeah?
06/01/2013 at 12:36

The year I got free horse manure I added quite a lot in, it already had lots of worms in the manure and that year I got lots of good compost quickly. Most of the time I just add old compost in small quantities.

06/01/2013 at 14:38

Kate is correct adding compost and roots from old pots is an automatic reaction for me. Collecting a bag of well rotted manure from my Son I add that as well it all helps.
Those with Daleks can get in with a fork or even a crow bar, shuffle it around shake the bin and if possible spin it on its bottom edge when it is still light, once it gets heavy tipping it out and throwing it back will be best
I also store natural water or recycled water, Old Speckled Hen beer recycled (Ladies does not work) in an old milk container to add to the watering can when I am damping the compost after turning.
A handful of granular fertiliser added sparingly will also speed things up or use up any Tomorite you have left over well diluted, it is like a good stew, we all have different ways and ingredients but it all comes out tasting good, "err" I do not advise tasting the compost, especially if using recycled beer.

Frank.

06/01/2013 at 18:55

Frank, there has been that ingrediant added too although not recycled Speckled Hen more lager and Newcastle Brown. I too have chucked old spent ingrediants from pots into there as well.

Will continue on with making my own compost, very satisfying, especially when you can use what comes out of the bottom.

OH is going to build a turning cage for me next to Monty

 

 

07/01/2013 at 10:18
Brain is starting to overload now lol. More things you can add...think i need a pen and paper hehe
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