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Can you make decent compost in these plastic bins?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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We will be doing a workshop on composting. And I never liked these plastic bins. My gut feeling says that you cannot make decent compost in them because 1) there is not much air flow and 2) they are way too small. Councils like them.  What do you think? Does the compost get anaerobic in them? (I find them very ugly too)
 
gardener
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Without knowing what kind of plastic bins you're referring to, I'd say trust your gut feeling. It may well indeed restrict air flow and may not hold enough material to get hot.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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They look all the same to me. They are all small and nowehere near enough other than for a courtyard.
 
gardener
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most compost bins that work well in small sizes are tumbler types not standing types.
a Standing type bin would need to contain 4 cubic feet of material to start with since that is what it takes to get a good heat cycle going and to continue.

I do have one friend that stacked three small bins on top of each other and by doing that he got a good heat cycle going, but that meant that he had to climb a ladder with his starting materials.

I think that tumblers are the best way to go for small batch (1/3 cu. yard or less) composting, they work and they are fast so you can start more batches.

Redhawk
 
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I wouldn't spend any money on any composting contraption. If every year you pile any material you have, leaves, grass clippings, vegatative kitchen waste, including coffee grounds on the ground, you'll get an annual crop of compost. Why spend a fortune to make it a few days earlier? Last years leafs are always composted in time to pile on the new fall supply after harvesting this years compost. You mow your lawn, fill a plastic bin, mow next week, you'll need a new bin. How many bins are you going to buy? 35 weeks, 35 bins, and then you get to the leaf season. You'd need to buy these wholesale, a truck load.

Go simple, make a pile in an out of the way spot.

 
John Duda
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I looked up the composting bins:

Lowes $108 WOW!

For $108 I could buy two yards of mushroom manure delivered. I get a year of benefits. I get 54 cu ft of ummmph in the garden. You buy the $108 marvel you get 7 cu ft a year later. It'd take you almost 8 years to get the production that I get by picking up my phone and yelling 2 yards of it!, please, thank you!.

If you mulch on the ground, you get the benefit of the worm industry. All those worms hauling nutrients back into the soil under the compost pile. Under the marvel you get nothing but weeds.
 
Angelika Maier
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I mysef would never ever buy such contraptions. Most of the bins here are not tumblers they are these square plastic ones and that is what the council here recommends.  They are between 150 and 400 l.It is about producing qualty compost, the stuff you want to make tea out of it.
 
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I suppose it largely depends upon the volume of waste you produce that is worth composting.  I brood my hatchlings in the basement of our house, and from that comes a decent volume of litter.  In previous years, I've cleaned them into the bushel-sized totes and placed them on the porch when my wife starts complaining about the entire house smelling like chickens.  I watered and turned them initially, and then again whenever the heat level started dropping.  It seemed to work fairly decently. 

This year, I'm doing things a little differently.  I got one of the 3' long x 1'wide x 18" deep tubs, and started it with a little soil from last year's container tomatoes.  It stays in the basement brooding area, and gets chicken litter whenever I have a surplus and can't just add more carbon

Because it's just my wife and I, we don't produce huge volumes of kitchen scraps, so those not chicken-worthy get added into the compost bin, and it gets watered whenever the chickens or ducks (and soon turkeys) soil their waterer too badly, adding saturated carbonaceous material to the mix. 

Because I haven't started working outside yet (another month until absolute no-frost season) the weed-eater style cultivator stays close by, and it gets thoroughly turned once or twice a week.  We're not getting crazy heat, but it's still getting into the low triple digit range.  Our dry climate, combined with winter temps, make it difficult to sustain an active compost heap off season.  This seems to work fairly well for what we need, which sometimes includes brooding-mortality disposal, as the garbage guys get cranky when you put dead animals in the trash can.  I could go down there now, and likely not find anything more than some banana tops and a few feathers. 
 
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