5.09.2008

In search of the ideal compost bin

I spent way too much time last night shopping online for a new compost bin. I left my beloved compost bin behind in Connecticut when we left three years ago, and have suffered withdrawal ever since. Guilt overwhelms me when tossing banana peels, coffee grounds, and other kitchen detritus into the trash.

The bin we had in CT looked like this one. Whether it was the design or just pure dumb luck, that bin was a kitchen waste destroyer. It was invaded by thousands of worms that chewed away at anything and everything ten months a year. We poured everything we had into it, and were never able to fill it up. The bin was a gift from a friend who no longer needed it, but it seemed silly to move a compost bin. In hindsight, that seems like a poor decision. Surely we moved many items of lesser utility.

As someone who gardens in part to support a simpler lifestyle, I feel odd spending $100 or more for a box made out of recycled plastic. I know I could build one myself, but my time is valuable to me, and given the cost of materials these days, it would likely cost just as much. It doesn't help, either, that there are so many options, such as this one or this other one. A tumbler is not the answer (had one once and hated it), and it's critical that it be closed to keep out critters and to maintain temperature for year-round decomposition.

I'd appreciate any advice or tips anyone may have, both on recommended models and inexpensive sources. If you're a reader, leave tips in the comments; if you're a Gardenaut, sounds like a good topic for a post!

4 comments:

MamaBird said...

Why did you hate your tumbler? I just started composting with one - ruh roh! The first thing I noticed about your rec'd ones is that they all have a trap door to get out finished compost which I wish I had. But how do you turn the compost?

Kat said...

We bought 10 feet of screen from the hardware store and tied it into a cylinder. It is an open bin, but we do not have any trouble with pests at all -- I just keep a pile of leaves on the top and dig a small hole when I take out the kitchen waste. As long as there is brown content on top the odor and pests are not an issue. This actually works a lot better for me (and smells better) than the old method!

If you really want closed you can do something like this: http://www.girlistic.com/diy/compost.htm. You can cut out the bottom of the bin completely to give the worms more access.

Emily said...

Dale, I completely understand your dilemma. We hemmed and hawed before finally buying a plastic one from Home Depot (which they no longer sell -- I just checked!) It is so cheaply made that the first one they shipped us had been crushed to splinters in the truck, so we had to have it shipped back and a new one shipped out. So much for reducing our carbon footprint, right?

It's okay, not great. There's no good way to turn it, for one thing, except by taking everything out and putting it back in. Last week we threw in a pound of redworms, hoping to speed things up.

Someday, I want to build my own -- I think that's the way to go. I'd love to hear others' solutions, too.

DaleA said...

Mamabird - I disliked the tumbler because it was a dry climate. Unless I hosed it down every day, I had a desiccated tangle. If you're in a humid, rainy place, it will probably work just fine.

Kat - I lean toward such simple solutions, but I have to worry a bit about aesthetics with our backyard. The same dryness issue applies, too, depending on your climate. July and August are typically wicked hot here, and with little precipitation.