Forum home Tools and techniques

Problems with composting and bin

I am so fed up I now feel like giving up on composting altogether
It took me a while to understand the green and brown and of breaking stuff up but think I got there in the end
I had an old bin, round and narrower at the top, the bottom hatch was missing so I closed it up with stryofoam, plastic and wire (looked a mess but worked, contents heated up nicely)
Wanted a new bin and thought of the Hotbin mark 2 but was advised that I would prob not have enough to keep it continually cooking.  I live alone and have small garden.
I decided to go for similar to what I already had, it was the same shape but when it came it was too tall, it came up to my neck!
I ordered another one but made sure of measurements this time.  This one is square, just the right height and had air holes all around it which I have now been told just dries out the compost at the corners and is no good for oxygenating at all.  
I got help to empty my old one and bagged up the stuff that was ready
I sealed up the holes in my new bin with gorilla tape, put a few twigs in bottom (tip I heard) loaded back in stuff not completely rotted and have topped up with grass, dead flower heads, kitchen waste of veg and fruit peelings, leaves, paper and cardboard (everything broken up small).  Made sure it was damp and not too wet 
It is useless, is stone cold not heating up at all, added some more green stuff.....nothing, grass not breaking down quickly like before
Bin is in same place as before.  Will it be the bin? or is it me doing something wrong? Am so frustrated with all this.  I don't like spiders or creepy crawlies so this is a big thing for me to do.


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,051
    patience is the hardest lesson to learn
  • BigladBiglad Posts: 2,893
    I've never felt any heat in my Dalek but get mostly usable stuff out of the bottom. Anything that hasn't broken down enough just goes back in the top. I definitely don't have the urge to become a compost guru but I'm hoping I've learnt enough recently to mean that the quality of my compost will improve as this year's contributions filter their way down the bin. I wouldn't worry about it too much and give it more time to get to work. 
    East Lancs
  • Ok thanks for your replies, I will wait.  Think is just that with my old repaired one, I could feel the heat when I opened the lid, maybe because it was old and established?  I do hope this one works, but as you say I must wait a bit longer
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,676
    How long since you filled the bin? Small dalek style bins can take a year to produce compost and rarely heat up like a big heap can. The reason this happens is because smaller bins have a higher surface area to volume ratio and therefore lose heat faster. That is why the insulated Hotbin works faster than the dalek type. If you wrap your bin with insulation it will retain more of the heat it generates and break down faster.
  • Thank you Steephill, I think I understand a little bit more now why it is not responding like my previous one did. 
    My last bin narrowed from bottom to top, plus it was over half full so everything I put in had a lower surface volume than the one I have now which is square and only filled to about 18 a large surface area (is that right?) 
    Is that why some bins are narrower at top than bottom so that they heat up more quickly?  If so I think I have bought the wrong bin.

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    Have you tried adding freshly-voided human urine?  The nitrates it contains sometimes boost a reluctant compost heap.  I keep a jug and watering can beside the throne for the purpose.
  • Thank you joshua, I'm prepared to try anything to get it going, it took me a while to suss out composting in the first place but eventually got my original bin going fine, just hope I've not jinxed it by moving over to this square bin.  Will definitely give it a go and keep people informed
  • SydRoySydRoy Posts: 167
     I don't like spiders or creepy crawlies so this is a big thing for me to do.
    Hmm.. composting may not be the thing for you then..rotting organic matter tends to require the presence of quite a few. 
    I'm teasing..but in all honesty almost all are completely harmless and dare I say interesting when you watch them closely.
  • Hi

    I have a square bin which sound quite similar to yours.

    I have had quite a lot of compost out of mine. I have never really got the heat that some have describled on here, except in the middle of my grass clippings after a few days. It is never steaming hot though, which I believe happens wit bigger scale composting.

    Just keep going as you were with your old bin. Sound like you have mastered the art of composting. It can be a slow process but I am sure that you will get there with it.

    There is a mountain of knowledge on here about composting. I know enough to get compost but always picking up information about it. My first idea of composting was, sling everything in my bin and six months later I have compost. After that false start I realised it is a science.

    Good luck with it. Let us know how you get on and if you have further questions pop them on here, nearly always there is an answer given 😁

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,890
    Hello Susan - I responded on your previous thread about composting.

    In my experience a compost bin will heat up when you add (in one go) enough well chopped, moist material to a depth of at least 6-10”. 

    If you always add shallower layers (because you don’t have sufficient material to make them deeper) you may well find that your bin doesn’t heat up. It doesn’t matter - the stuff will still break down - but it will take a little longer.

    With your conical shaped Dalek bin you were probably adding material to the top of the bin where there is a smaller surface area - so the layers were deeper and, therefore, more likely to heat up a bit.

    I think I suggested before that you could keep garden material to one side and when you have a really big pile spread it on the lawn and chop it up with the lawn mower. Maybe you can do that when you come to do the big autumn clear up - if only to reassure yourself it’s the volume and / or size of the material going into the bin that is the determining factor in how much it heats up.

    If you only have a small garden and only produce (say) a bucket of prunings each session you will probably never have a hot heap. It doesn’t matter. Mine is only hot during the really busy parts of the year - and I garden a third of an acre.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
Sign In or Register to comment.