Emptying a compost bin

When us Compost masters (no sniggering at the back thereimage) go out to do events in the Norfolk area, a lot of people say that they have been filling their compost bin for years and there is no compost. Well there probably is... you have to turn the contents about every 2 or 3 weeks, keep adding to it (50% greens and 50% browns - nitrogen and carbon. Browns being scrunched up newspaper etc.)

Then there is the big challenge, how to access that compost. Some gardeners just tip the whole thing over or lift the bin up to reveal the contents. I would find that rather messy on the gravel where the bins are situated.

So here is how I do it;

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 First put down some tarpaulin or plastic, an old shower curtain would do and I use a small coal shovel and the compost stirrer that I bought from The Centre for Alternative Technology years ago, but Amazon also do them.

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 Having taken the little apron off at the front, I start raking the compost out with the stirrer and the shovel

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 I have not sieved this compost as I want to add lots of 'roughage' to a new bit of flower bed that was under the lawn and very compacted rather poor soil.

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 In the compost you may find small plants trying to grow in a ghostly fashion without light; I put those aside to chop up and add to the next bin

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 This is unsieved compost; black gold as it will really help condition the old soil from under the lawn. I will add organic chicken manure pellets as there is not a great deal of nutrition in compost.

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 And here it has been dug in.image (The white line at the edge of the lawn is where I used diluted white emulsion and a small brush to define the new lawn edge)

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Posts

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Artjak,    "Err" Um yes maybe but why make an easy job hard???

    Two large wooden bins plenty of air holes, up against a brick wall for heat and out of the prevailing wind. Fill one, a slatted plank front for ease of access to turn and use the man made accelerator, once full cover the top put the lid down and let it warm up, meanwhile fill t'other.

    Turn out into barrow and throw back a couple of times then use. The engineers mantra is do not make an easy job hard, do not  use ten actions when one will do the job, you know it is ready when it only half fills what was at the start a crammed bin.

    Frank.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Frank, sadly not all of us have the space for those large wooden bins; wish I had a big garden like yoursimage

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Forgot to say; from my medium size bin; Started 15/6/2013, finished filling it 30/9 2013, emptied 18/4/2014 I got 8 buckets of un-sieved compost and will get 2 or3 buckets of sieved to go on new veg bed.image

  • Glanced at my copy of 'The Garden' magazine whilst eating dinner. I came across  some advice with regard to the emptying of the compost bin. Namely, take care when emptying. There may be toads, slowworms, mice and hedgehogs living in the compost bin. Maybe even a wasp nest- so do take care when aerating, turning and emptying your compost heap or bin. The thought of the wasp nest made me shiver!

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Scott, In all my years of compost starting on middens, hot boxes and the last thirty years my wooden bins, have never seen anything but worms and snails. The snails get mortified the worms returned to the compost.

    The wasps decided to live in comfort under the bungalow, entry through an airbrick, I hated doing it but a powder the police gave me sorted them out in a couple of days. 

    Frank.

  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800

    Thanks Artjak, I know I need to 'turn' mine properly, I have been giving it a 'wriggle' (don't laugh!) with a fork, but now I know how to do it properly I will do.  After your previous advice I have been making sure I add paper and telling my OH to only add 1 mower collector thingy (do you like my technical terms?) of grass when mowing the lawn.  As of next week he won't be adding any for a while as he is feeding it image So I may get him to put some from the next cut into spare bags we have so I can top up the CB, is that a good idea?

    Frank, I don't have enough room to do as you say, I would very much like to store manure but at the moment am not sure where that would go.  Our garden is quite big, but my patch isn't, although I am working on it image

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Orchid Lady, My grass cuttings go to the green waste after weed and feed, they pile it high and it gets very hot, you get it back in named compost of which I am at times dubious.

    Turning compost no matter what size the bin, I toss mine out into the wheelbarrow then toss it back into the bin, the whole idea is to get air into the compost. It tends to compact if left as I have LECTURED on here Warmth Air and dampness not wet is what makes good compost, my bins are large because they heat better.

    Horse manure, can be dumped on the ground behind a bush or, black bin bags with holes punched in with a garden fork and dumped out of site, they do not take up that much space and think of the goodness a year later. Stick a row of pots with plants in  front of them.

    Frank.

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 13,521

    I also have 2 metre cube size wooden containers, the compost gets forked from one to the other, then gets put in those giant blue containers, since Christmas, i have enough compost to put on the long new bed we are making, just the remains of the christmas paper still there, it didnt rot down very will but is dug in and can rot down in there. Also had enough for the bean trench.

    Composting here has become a obsession, a good one i may add,  i spend a long time on it, but it has great rewards. 

    My garden had been neglected for quite a few years, so has benefitted from all our hard work compost making.

     

    Well worth it if you have the space.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Lyn so true, with modern composts made mainly from council waste I doubt its value, mixed with your own compost at least you know what it is getting.

    As Monty pointed out last night it does not all need to be completely rotted down, some plants thrive on some rougher stuff at the base when planted.

    My preference is to fill one box whilst using the other which is why it gets tossed out into the barrow and back, it gets plenty of air, fiddling with the top will let some air in but it compacts lower down, we can all compost from the largest to a bucket, the larger the heap or container the faster it rots down is all.

    Frank.

  • iGrowiGrow Posts: 183
    At the lottie I have four bins and when the one being filled is full the fourth one gets emptied. Contents of bin 3 go to bin 4, 2 to 3 & 1 to 2 leaving bin 1 ready for refilling. This means the compost is turned at least three times before it is finally used. The bins take up about 4 square metres and with a bit of working area a total of about 6 square metres... Out of 500 square metres of lottie this I consider to be worthwhile. At main harvest time, if I consider that bin 4 will not be ready I "drop and chop" and the worms do their job. If I then find I need that bed I clear the area by moving elsewhere by which time the compost bin cycle has usually occurred and there is room in the bins. At home, I have a similar regime but with only three small bins which mainly only get vegetable waste and browns.
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