Dalek, beehive, New Zealand, bokashi, wormery, green cone…
So many types of compost bin – a tricky decision or an obsessive addiction?
Choosing a bin is not that difficult as bins exist for a range of budgets, space, agility and needs. The difficult bit is perhaps deciding which one to get first. (I remember us all looking at a fellow trainee on the Master Composer course with bemusement when she told us she had nine compost bins but by the end of the course I think we all wished we had nine compost bins!)
The following bins are suitable for traditional home composting where you do not want to compost any cooked food waste, for example.
Dalek £10 – £30
(and other plastic-moulded bins)
Cheap and cheerful and does the job. Often subsidised by the council but also available at the likes of Wilkos so it’s worth shopping around. Just as effective as more expensive bins but the main downfall is access to the finished compost as the hatch at the bottom is small and awkward. It is easier to lift the bin off completely and put the top layer of unrotted material back in the bin leaving you a pile of compost (likewise for turning the compost). This however requires body strength and enough space to resite the bin. It is also not the most attractive bin but there are ways around that if money is an issue.
(Another cheap option is a compost bag. These do not seem very widespread and have mixed reviews, particularly in terms of durability, but I am currently trialling one as it met my current needs.)
Beehive £100 – £150
There is a price to pay for beauty although some models are similar to the dalek in terms of compost production and access to the finished compost. However, the compost is perhaps easier to turn and add raw materials to. Its main selling point is its attractiveness.
New Zealand Boxes £0 – £100
The main advantage with these is that you can leave one bin to decompose fully while you start adding raw materials to the next bin. These bins are wide making them easier to turn, and often have removable slats making it far easier to access the finished compost. If you are handy with wood and a toolkit then it is also easy to make your own (often at no cost if you get your hands on some old pallets). These bins are not good for anyone with limited space, but if you do have the space you are not limited to two – why not have one just for leaves to make leafmold, for example? Bins can be open or lidded depending on your circumstances.
A simple heap, old bins with the bottom cut off, straw bales, post and wire mesh, and wooden pallets are all good ways to start composting if you don’t want to buy a bin. There are plenty of instructions for these online and I also have a couple of ‘how to’ guides on these methods if you are interested.
My dad’s homemade bin
My next post will look at more unconventional composting methods but in the meantime go out and buy/make a bin and get composting!
At my first workshop.