Compost Bins

Plans for the re-design of the garden are going well (if you ignore the whole a) huge demands on my chainsaw b) saving up for all of this c) several tonnage of top soil that needs moving d) fact that we've not actually done more than sweep the leaves up so far).

But one thing that got me thinking was what kind of compost bin is best for a garden.

I used to have a Dalek in my old garden but I wasn't there long enough to harvest from it so I've no idea if it would have proven to be a huge success (I mean it was for the family of rats who lived in it despite my throwing carrots peelings onto their little heads in the morning...) There's a Dalek in the current garden and two somewhat rotten wooden frames full of grass clippings and all look quite fresh in terms of prospective compost.

In your eyes, what makes a really good compost bin? Is plastic fantastic or should I be getting the wood saw out and making wooden frames similar to the one Clueless put up recently for us to marvel at the fantastic handy work.

Ideas tips pictures and advice would be gladly appreciated!



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 55,117

    I would get at least a double wooden one with removable slatted fronts to make it easy to remove/turn compost.  Place them on bare earth with a piece of this 

    beneath them - it won't stop really determined rats but it will go a long way to deter them!  image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    If it is speedy compost that you are after, make or buy a 'tumbling' bin. This gets frequently rotated and speeds up process. The drawback, as far as I understand, is that you fill it all at once. The hot bin is great, but costs about £130. It's fairly new, but have seen it work at Royal Norfolk Show and was pretty impressed. You can even put meat and fish in there once you have got it up to temperature and working properly. I'm hoping the price will come down.

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Thanks Artjak I'll have a look into those. Speed isn't really an issue, but it would be nice to avoid the major pitfalls of compost bins when I get them. The Dalek for instance didn't seem easy to mix and aerate but was smell free and easy to install / plonk on the ground.

    Dove - I get the feeling that the neighbours cat would be the better bet at deterring rats. Its certainly doing a good job of ensuring only a plucky robin gets near my feeders!

  • In my opinion there are several things you need to take into consideration. Firstly, how big is your garden? How much will you compost? If you have a large garden a couple of daleks will not be enough. (I have 6!) If you have the room and someone to help you can recycle pallets into bins effectively and have several side by side - one to fill, one composting, one ready to use.

    To me one of the most overlooked questions when talking about composting is the siting of the bins. We want them out of the way, yes, but we also want them in the sun. The heat generated by the heap and the extra heat from the sun (plus turning the heap) will speed up the whole process.

    I am very happy with my daleks - easy to access at the bottom, you can set them on wire mesh to stop vermin accessing them (never had the problem) and I turn them by twisting an old fork into the mix. They are not permanent and therefore easy to move if you fancy a change or realise siting was a mistake. They are also reasonably cheap to buy or to acquire for free on freegle or having sharp eyes when a for sale/sold sign goes up  image

    I use an open pallet type bin for my leaf mould which works well and put a pallet on top intially to stop the leaves blowing away.

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Dainti. Thank you ever so much for this.

    The garden is large (not huge, just large) with half of it given over to lawn which I think would fill a Dalek very quickly (in the past I was putting half of the grass in the green bin for recycling and half in the compost as so to not overwhelm the compost bin as all too clearly I can remember fathers green slimy mounds where he would dump the grass clippings from his huge front lawn and nothing ever seemed to happen to the pile). We also have all our vegetable waste from the kitchen and lots of hedging / trees to keep pruned not to mention the shredded paper from the office (we try to compost everything we can).

    Positioning is a bit more tricky. I'm thinking of clearing cat poo corner which is lined by a hedge one side and a fence the other to site the bins there (as its tucked up out of the way by the vegetable plot, I'll be able to paddle up the footpath in the winter rather than going over the grass, and it wont provide an easy access point for anyone thinking they can retrieve lost footballs from the school next door) but I'm not sure how much sun it'll get there. I'll see if I can think of anywhere else suitable!

    It looks like two or three pallet builds may be the way forward.

  • Mrs GMrs G Posts: 336

    I have two daleks and they seem to work pretty fast.  I had usable compost last year from the previous residents which I used for potting on.  I have forked them a bit but not too worried about that as I put stuff in in thin layers using shredded/crumpled paper in between to create air pockets and stop it getting too wet.  Woody stuff I shred and either use as mulch or compost.  Leaves, I made a simple plastic mesh cylinder held up with garden canes threaded through and some are in jute sacks.  If you're getting rats then your bin is too dry and cosy for them.  Grass must be put in in thin layers.  I also use thin layers of grass as a mulch around trees and shrubs, keeps weeds down and adds nitrogen to the soil but if your grass has produced seed send this to the council waste otherwise you will have very weedy compost.  The rangers at the local country park use pallets but then they have loads of space/waste.

  • Just to put my tuppenceworth in - I use daleks (and I find it most amusing that everyone on here seems to accept that 'daleks' is their correct name image). I have two and I just put compostable stuff equally in each dalek. It takes about a year to rot down but I get good compost out of the dalek's bottom (as it were!!) twice a year.

    The compost is so good now that I find I am able to mix it with vermiculite and use it in my pots and containers both outside and inside the house, including my garlic pots, and seven large potato sacks. Once the sacks are finished, the whole lot goes on the bedding. I have cut down on my purchase of multi purpose compost almost to nil.

    They are positioned together at the side of my house which faces south west but there are mature trees all around so the sun is on them on and off in Summer from 2pm until 5pm, and in Winter, hardly at all due to the sun being so low.

    Mixing has become a lot easier since purchasing a compost aerator. It's the type which is like a metal pole with foldable 'wings' on the end. The wings fold into the pointed pole as you push it into the compost, then spread out again as you pull the pole back up, bringing the compost mix up with it. I am only slight but I have no problem with it and it's been a godsend.

    Grass is a great natural accelerator and if you don't have a lawn then I'd ask a neighbour if you can have their clippings. It's amazing how hot the bins get after putting a good layer of grass clippings in. Other than that, I make sure I use the secateurs to chop anything like stems into small pieces (It's actually quite an enjoyable task!), so that they rot down easier.

    I'm sure that you are aware, Clarington, that it takes a year or so to get good compost, so whatever you decide to do, you will have to be a bit patient at first. Once it gets going and the worms find it, you will have more compost that you can use.image

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Thanks James. I'm not sure if that wood would be pressure treated or if it would rot really quickly (not good when you're thinking long term composting!) Are they what you've used for yours?

    Does anyone have an experience of "Green Fingers" ? I'm tempted to get two of these

    (based on them being prettier than daleks and cheap enough to make it not worth my buying the raw materials).

    At least now I know what the plastic dalek types aren't all that bad - I was worried that perhaps they didn't let enough air circulate and the contents just sweated instead of rotted. They may turn out to be the better option (or at least easier) as with the strong lids and robust style I know we can keep the visiting inquisitive dogs out and it can be easily hidden away from view with some trellis.

    I've seen some very pretty bee hive compost bins which we could at least turn into a focal point rather than an eye sore and move them to a sunnier position but the costs just make my wallet run away in fear!!

    I guess I'd best learn carpentry over Christmas!

  • No I used Pressure treated and then painted then with Timbercare that good for five years I cost me £60.00 to make and is 1600x800x900 high I hope it's going to last for the next 15 years at least all you need is a saw, nails and a tape for the compost bin


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