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I want to choose a compost maker. There are some specifics needed though!

I work in a primary special needs school and we are working through the RHS benchmarking. We are keen to compost,  however, the school site joins both fields and a hotel complex. From there any ground based compost bins have attracted unwanted guests (rats).

That means we need another solution - hence I'm thinking of  tumble composter....... but which one?

We need one which is

  •  not expensive [cheap!]
  • VERY stable
  • easy to tumble and empty - our pupils have various mobility problems
  • long-lasting (axis reinforced?)

There seem to be many available but without advice from folk with experience choosing the right one is tricky.

Anyone out there got any advice?

Thanks  image


  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I would never recommend a tumble composter-the theory looks great but have heard so many bad reports

    Can you not put chicken wire round the base of the bins to deter the rats??

    See what others say.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    There are plenty of adverts for them, but I have never seen anything from anybody who has actually made good compost with one.  They will be very heavy to turn when loaded and I wonder if they really do 'tumble' to compost rather than the contents just staying in one lump.

    Might it be more satisfactory if one member of staff could make the compost off-site.  Perhaps the pupils could bring in shredded paper, peelings (you can wrap them in newspaper and just chuck them in the compost), tea bags and coffee grounds, etc.

    Or you could start a wormery. Or several. Good luck, growing helps with so many skills.

  • Caz WCaz W Posts: 1,353

    Have you tried "begging" for a free or heavily discounted compost maker from your Local Authority?  Our local school (in Wales)  managed to get 2 free by getting the children to write a nice letter image

  • I do like the wormery idea. Kids love wiggly things -even if they do squeal when thet see the squirming!

    Seems a cheat to compost off site - worth thinking about though.

    Also think about chicken wire, but having seen the tenacity of local rats I think they'd just climb up it!

    Thanks for your views.

  • I think you may mave misunderstood the bit about chicken wire - I think the poster who suggested its use meant that you should put the compost bin down on top of a piece of chicken wire rather than wrap the wire round the container.  You'd need to choose the smallest gauge mesh.

    However, I've got a better idea (!) & this is what I've done with two plastic "dalek" type bins which I got from the local council.  Both bins sit directly on an area which was already covered by several small-size concrete paving slabs, with approx half-inch gaps between the slabs.  This way the worms can easily find their way up through the gaps and into the bins, and the gaps are far too small for anything much bigger to manage it.  If you're consistent and careful as to what you put in the bins, it's not very likely that rats would be interested anyway.  The most important thing to remember is No Cooked Food Items should ever go into the compost.  I put all sorts of stuff in my bins - tea bags/coffee grounds/vegetable & fruit peelings/the contents of my vacuum cleaner cylinder/shredded paper/some leaves/some prunings/some grass "mowings" etc etc - but never more than about a 3" thick layer of the latter at any one time.  As far as turning the contents of the bin's concerned, I have a special gadget which I bought specially for the purpose - if you have a look at "garden tools and equipment" or something like that on the internet, I expect you'll be able to find something similar.  Good Luck!

  • I have "dalek" bins and they sit on slabs like hypercharleyfarley.The advice given above is very good as it has worked for me too. One of my neighbours bought the "tumbler" at great expense but it did not work for the reasons given above. And yes, do try the FOC method with the council.....good luck.

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,657

    Hi Linda the best answer for you is to ask if any of the kids dads or grandads have a copy of Gardeners World issue Dec 2012 or you might try to buy it , in it they have tested  10 composters some rat proof it makes very good reading , also lots of gardeners ask a local dairy farmer for a used disinfectant 40 gallon heavy duty plastic tub ,we use them for water buts and composters  just saw the top across level  this gives access and makes a nice fitting top when turned upside down,they are non returnable and most farmers should be glad to help you ,especially with a nice letter from the kids,

    good luck Lindaimage

  • Thanks for all your ideas and advice.

    I'll see what I can do about the article,  Alan. Ironic timing....esp as I've now go GW subscription! Maybe I can look on-line for article.

    I'm intending to see if our Recycling Officer (Guernsey) has any tips and shall go along with the farmers and local dairy idea.... we also  need to work on rainwater harvesting!!

    Hope you all have a good gardening year and make lots of wonderful compost!

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