Compost Bin Recommendations Needed

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I am interested in starting composting. I would appreciate some advice on what type of bin to purchase and where to get them. There are only two of us in the house so we do not have a lot of kitchen scraps but do have a LOT of oak leaves in the fall and grass cuttings in the warmer months. I have a backyard vineyard which covers about 0.1 acre for which I need to build up the organics and nutrients in the soil.
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On Tue, 4 Nov 2003 05:48:44 -0500, "Paul E. Lehmann"

I really like the round wire bins. Get some 4' high "rabbit fencing" which is much stronger than chicken wire. Use about 10 to 12 feet of the fencing and fasten together using pliers. Cheap and easy. I built 4 bins and they are are over 10 years old, still strong. You can cut a "door" at the bottom of the bin, the same width as your favorite shovel.
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My recommendation is to get a 55 gallon drum and cut out both ends. Then get 8 cinder blocks that measure 8high x 8wide x 16long. Place these two high a bit further apart than the diameter of the drum in two walls such that each wall is 16high x 8wide x 32long. Next get some metal bars long enough to span the gap between the walls. Galvanized pipes will do, as will rebar. I found the round metal stakes with nail holes at one end and a point at the other used in concrete work to work well. Place these bars about an inch or so apart across those walls. Place the drum on top of the stakes and fill it with your leaves, grass clippings, etc. If any falls out onto the ground, simply scoop it up and dump it again into the drum on top of what is there. Then thoroughly water the contents of the drum until water falls out the bottom. Water thoroughly once a week or more often as needed. While you can turn the contents (I use one of those stakes), you can also just leave the contents alone. Over time as the compost forms, it will drop down onto the ground below the drum. The nice feature of this low labor approach is that a whole lot of air is available for decomposition as the bottom of the container is open. The one caveat is to move the fallen compost away quickly - particularly if you have a tree anywhere close by. The nearby plants just love the stuff and if you dally you'll find a whole lot of roots amongst that compost.

to
the
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and where to

of kitchen

cuttings in the

0.1 acre for

soil.
Stand 4 free pallets on their edges in a square, and nail a short board between the adjoining edges at the top corners, or tie the corners together with rope. Put the "densest" board pattern on the inside of the bin. Just remove the connections from one pallet to empty. For me, 2 or 3 bins work best. Fill one, let it set while you fill the second. Use the first by shoveling off the top uncomposted material to the second. When it's empty, then start filling the first while you use the second, etc.
Bob
Bob
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For fairly high maintenance urban composting, I've found nothing close to the Biostack sold by Smith & Hawkens. I like it because it comes in sections, so it's easy to adjust the height and also to turn. However, for someone starting out, I think it's better to go with one of those cheap round bins made of recycled plastics. Many local governments subsidize the price of them so they're less than $10. But the full price should be less than $20. I also recommend grinding your leaves and saving some in bags until Spring and Summer when you have grass to add to it. I don't have a problem with kitchen scraps, but if not cut into small pieces and if you don't keep your compost pile hot, you may get rats. (for vegetable materials, kitchen scraps probably cause the most complaints. They require more than just throwing into a pile and leaving them.)
--
Compostman
Washington, DC
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for
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On Wed, 05 Nov 2003 11:51:15 GMT, "Compostman"

I checked it out and it looks as if it could be my next bin. How long have you had it outdoors and is it exposed to any amount of sun?
Thanks, tj
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opined:

Tom, this is awfully expensive and cost 40 dollars for shipping. The 20 dollar price is PER level. It is not going to hold up well in sun. They did some experimentation with plastic compost bins and none of them held up for more than 4 years without degrading in the sun. Not in the kind of heat we experience.
Victoria
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wrote:

Thanks Vic, I was really exploring the concept. John Imrick (sp?) had some great recycled planters than do hold up well. I'll continue to look for a similar design but more stable in the sun.
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dollar
some
more
Tom, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Victoria's opinion is not based on true facts. I just went to Smith & Hawken's web page. I Biostack costs $89 for three sections. Additional sections are $20 each. I'm not sure how much shipping is, but I know it's not anywhere as close as what Victoria says. (I buy most of my stuff from the Smith & Hawken store near me, rather than on-line, but I have ordered from the company, and the shipping charge is similar to any other internet store.) I can tell you this: In July I ordered a Biostack plus an additional section and had it sent as a house-warming present to friends who had just purchased a house in New Hampshire. I checked my bill and the charge was $127.95. So the merchandise was $109, and $18.95 was shipping and taxes.
Now as to Victoria's assertion that "They did some experimentation with plastic compost bins and none of them held up for more than 4 years without degrading in the sun." Who is "They?" I have six Biostacks, plus lots of additional sections. The oldest is 6 years, the newest was purchased this year. I can't tell an significant difference from the oldest and the youngest, but in reality, the sections get mixed up as I turn the piles. Note: S&H usually puts the Biostack on sale about once a year. It was on sale last month for $72. Often they put it on sale in the Spring. Also, at the local S&H where I usually shop, I get a 10% discount because of my membership in a gardening club. I think that S&H is a fairly expensive store, but the quality is good, and for some reason, I don't think anyone else makes a container like the Biostack.
By the way, speaking of Victoria's "They." Did you know that they have conducted research which shows that for every hour one spends on the internet, the person's life expectancy is reduced by 30 days? Gotta go!!!!
--
Compostman
Washington, DC
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opined:

Hmmm...Taken from: http://www.smithandhawken.com/jhtml/site/catalog/Product.jhtml?PRODIDQ87&CATIDr&index=1 Biostack Composter # 420067 $89.00 Biostack Single Layer # 420083 $20.00 ($40 add'l shipping) This is the only composter designed to save your back while improving your soil: its three bottomless tiers make turning the pile easy. Built of 60% recycled polyethylene, its waterproof, rotproof, rodent-proof, and easy to clean. The hinged lid blocks rain and retains essential heat. Holds 13 cubic feet. Individual layers also available at right. 28" Sq., 34" H.
That's 40 dollars ADDITIONAL shipping. So, either you are full of shit, or not, but it's what they have on their website.
As for "they?" The Tarrant County Cooperative Extension in Texas. Do you live in Texas, or Nevada? Tom and I do. Me Texas he Nevada. We have sun 300 days a year, or darn near close, with way over 120 of those days about 100 degrees. Very little rain
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Biostack
near
in
without
of
this
at
go!!!!
http://www.smithandhawken.com/jhtml/site/catalog/Product.jhtml?PRODIDQ87&CATIDr&index=1
your
to
cubic
not,
you live

days a

degrees.
I just checked out Smith & Hawken's web site and sure enough they say $40 shipping for the $20 single layer, but I checked what the shipping for a complete Biostack (3 layers) and it is $15.95. Someone at S&H has gone crazy. I've sent them an e-mail to ask what's going on. As I said in my message, in July I sent a Biostack and an extra layer to a friend in New Hampshire for $127.95. As to the "they" which you say is the Tarrant County Cooperative Extension. Have they published their study? I'm very skeptical. I recommend putting compost piles or containers in the shade. But this isn't to protect the plastic containers, but to protect the composting person from the sun.
--
Compostman
Washington, DC
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opined:

It says 40 dollars EXTRA, which is on top of the regular shipping on items which are determined by the level of cost.
I should have said Denton County. I made an error. I don't recall if it was published or not. Several different bins were given out and within 3-4 years all started showing signs of degradation caused by the sun.
When Tom asked the question, I answered him based on the knowledge of where he lives and where I live and how we both have intense heat and in general, the solar exposure for many, many long months of 10 on the scale of high solar degradation to our skin, and just about everything else. It wasn't an off the cuff answer. There were factors.
Nobody at S&H has gone mad. I've been ordering from them for years and they always have pricey shipping on bulky items. It's not a mistake.
Victoria
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County
which
was
years
where he

the
the
they
Victoria, I'm responding to the S&H charge of $40 for shipping the $20 single Biostack layer. It's not actually bulky, because it comes in four pieces. And shipping for the full biostack, which contains 3 layers plus a heavy lid is only $15.95. So $15.95 for 3 layers and a top, in contrast to $40 for just one layer doesn't make sense. Plus I ordered both a full biostack and an extra layer and the total cost was 127.95. The cost of the items was $109, and shipping plus tax was $18.95. I've asked S&H for an explanation. I'll share it when I hear from them.
--
Compostman
Washington, DC
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On Sat, 08 Nov 2003 13:32:12 GMT, "Compostman"

Thanks compostman BUT I get a bit more sun than you!
Las Vegas solar radiation levels,
Annual Total BTU's per square meter (10 tubes): 5,693,311
Washington DC
Annual Total BTU's per square meter (10 tubes): 3,602,086
That's 57% higher solar radiation, I'd expect the plastic to degrade faster here. Generally even treated plastics begin to fail around the 5 year mark. I have seen products, recycled, that last longer but haven't found any reliable data.
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If you don't have a dog, find a back corner, preferably hidden by shrubs. Dig a pit about 2-3' deep. Dump your kitchen and yard waste in there. Cover with a little of the soil that was dug out of it. Keep the layer going until the content rises 2' above the surrounding soil then dig a new pit. Let the old pile sit for 6months and you've got great compost.
I bought an earth machine a couple of years ago. Found it impractical. High winter winds knocked the top half off a couple of times. The vents are not enough to prevent grass clippings from becoming anaerobic. Rats chewed through the plastic base and make the whole thing a winter home.
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On 11/5/03 2:25 PM, in article
wrote:

Interesting - no animal troubles here in NH with the earth machine. I tend to put the grass clippings in a different pile, more exposed to the elements. Just don't get a Compost Tumbler - worthless hunk of money! Cheryl
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On Wed, 05 Nov 2003 20:33:07 GMT, Cheryl Isaak

Isn't that the truth! I still use mine to make a mix of several different composts to create a product for making aerobic compost tea. I some times add some fungal foods to get the mycelium actively growing. In other words it's a high priced mixer that could be replaced with a $20USD recycled plastic barrel.
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On 11/5/03 6:17 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com,

I use it to "store" composting materials - add a load of grass clippings or two and get a mix half rotted down - I'll spread that to finish the job on the garden. When it rusts out, out it goes.
I wonder if it my climate - I am in the north, but I have friends in the south that get decent results if the entire load is chopped fine.
Cheryl
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You can also get high-quality plastic barrels for free, if you know where to look. Specifically, ask around at dialysis centers. They buy dialysate in medical-grade plastic barrels of roughly 50 gallon capacity. It costs more to clean them to medical specs than to make a new one, so many dialyssis centers are willing to give them away for free, to avoid having to throw them in the garbage.
They'll smell of vinegar (I believe that acetic acid, aka vinegar, is one of the primary ingredients in dialysate), but the dialysate doesn't have anything toxic. Rinse them out, let the vinegar smell air out, and you're good to go.
steve
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