With an acre of garden you'll have so much organic matter that you'll
pretty much need to dig a substantial pit in the ground, at least for
pre conditioning before you actually shovel it into a composter that
will produce humous (a pile of semi-rotted organic matter is not
I think you're better off buying a ready made composter. It will cost
pretty much the same in materials to make one yourself that will
actually work, most home made units don't work very well... and you're
much better off with several smaller units rather than one gigantic
one. Whatever you do do NOT get one of those tumbling composters...
in order to properly compost the materials must be in contact with the
ground. Also if you reside where there are cold winters the above
ground models will slow way down as soon as the weather turns cold and
will virtually cease to compost at all with the first frost, those
with direct contact with the ground will continue to compost quite a
while longer into cold weather. My neighbor purchased one of those
new fangled revolving drum models that cost more than $600, just a few
weeks ago he finally admitted that it doesn't work, not at all.
I bought this one about 10 years ago, it works very well and it's
still going strong (it's the only one I have seen that has a 25 year
warranty - I suspect it will last even longer and/or outlast me).
My neighbor bought this one this past spring, he's very unhappy with
it... he will soon be even more unhappy as this will be its first
winter here in fridgid upstate NY. He purchased the large "400"
model... I often see him cranking away for like ten minutes at a time,
at least it will build big biceps. I don't ever do anything with mine
except toss stuff into the top and pull out sweet smelling jet black
humous from the bottom, I don't even bother to stir anymore, the one I
have really cooks.
The wire screen is really not a base per se, it's just a mesh covering
that's supposed to keep rodents out of the composter. At the time I
bought mine the screen wasn't an available option although I could
have easily made one myself of galvanized hardware cloth. The mesh is
really only necessary if you have a rodent problem or you live in a
municipality that has ordinances concerning composters, usually only
in areas where folks live live close together on relatively small
lots. I don't think a mesh covering is at all necessary when you live
in a rural area
Many years ago I lived in Sandpoint, Idaho, just north of town on
I'll second both comments. I've been using the Soilmaker forever. Works like
a charm. And, I know 3 people who are disgusted with the tumbler type of
composter. All 3 are the type who fall for anything novel, whether it works
or not, so I have no sympathy for them at all.
It's strange how some people's brains operate. My neighbor noticed my
composter when I first moved here, he came over to inspect right after
I set it up. He asked if that "little thing" worked, as if I moved it
200 miles from where I lived previously and was setting it up because
it didn't work. I spent over an hour answering all his questions
about composting... I could tell he knew nothing... and he's supposed
to be the know-it-all up-stater farm boy... as if there are no rural
farms down-state on Long Island. A few days later he was setting up
some sort of composter contraption near his vegetable garden, a four
foot diameter cylinder of turkey wire with weed block cloth wrapped
around it, no lid. For three years I watched him stuff that stupid
thing with all sorts of garbage to compost but he never pulled out an
ounce of humous, there was no composting happening, I wonder why not.
Each spring he dumped out what was nothing but dried leaves, twigs,
and household garbage, all of it discernable as the day he dumped it
in, just a bit slimey, and stunk worse than community outhouse. He
rototilled all that into his garden (then wondered why some of his
plants got diseased. This past spring I saw him setting up his new
expensive toy. A few days later when I was mowing and passing where
he was watering his garden I stopped to chat and in conversation I
asked about his new composter... he showed it off like it was his new
grandchild, I made no negative comments, in upstate lingo just said
"Yup, it sure looks nice, yep". At the end of the summer he came by
to see how my plants were doing and that's when he finally admitted
that he made a mistake in not listening to my recommendations, he was
very disappointed with his new composter, not only didn't it produce a
drop of humous, but the plastic crank mechanism was falling apart. I
suggested he try to return it, and to get one that sets on the ground
like mine.... we'll see, I don't think his ego will permit that. He
can buy six like mine for what he paid for that elitist POS. Btw,
he's been spending quite a bit of money on boxes of composter
enzyme... mine is on the ground and I have all the micro-organisms
doing their thing plus tons of earthworms, I can pull out a handful of
worms just by lifing the lid and reaching in. If I had to spend all
that money I wouldn't bother to compost. When I bought mine over ten
years ago it cost $59.... I even suckered myself into ordering a box
of enzyme starter powder when I placed my order, I never used it,
never even opened the box, I just recently gave it to my neighbor.
Composting should be easy and nearly free... so far my $59 composter
has cost me like $6/yr and gives me about 50 gallons of perfect humous
each year.... I have ten 5 gallon contractor buckets filled to
overlfowing from just this summer... no putrid odor, smells exactly
like deep woods forest floor... if I didn't know better I'd mistake it
for wild mushrooms. My neighbor's tumbler composter smells like ripe
Nonsense. Above-ground compost bins are used successfully by
gardeners in every part of the UK. It's so successful in the UK climate,
that local councils provide free compost bins on request to encourage
more composting of green waste(part of the UK rubbish recycling
policy). I have 3 free "daleks" from the council, and two home-made
square bins. The home made ones are faster IMHO. The home-made ones are
each about a cubic metre in size, made from old pallets wired together
at the corners. You could build a run of bays as long as you like. When
I want to turn or empty one I just undo the front side. The OP should
be able to obtain old pallets free from warehouses if he asks.
At the 80 acre gardens where I work we have compost bays made with
stacked second hand wooden railway sleepers; big enough to drive a
front-loader in to shovel up the compost when it's ready. <envy>.
also very popular and successful in New Zealand with wet cold frosty
winters. If worried, build a cover. Ideally one made from tin with a wooden
frame that can either be hinged or lifted on/off as required. Even bunging a
piece of old carpet on top will be of some benefit.
UKers must have a strange sense of success.
Above ground bins are never okay, above ground bins don't compost...
rotting organic matter is not composting. Organisms only found in the
earth must be present and in abundance and especially earthworms for
composting. Your above ground bins are making putrid slime, not
humus. You should be happy to have cool weather, your slop pots won't
stink so badly.
In gardening compost used as a noun is actually inaccurate, composting
is a process (verb - to compost) that produces humus, not compost...
in gardening organic matter is either partially composted or it's
humus. Humus is organic matter that has been fully digested, not
rotted. Some folks who use above ground bins add digestive enzymes,
but that does not function very long as it does not renew itself.
Some add earthworms (because proper humus is composed almost entirely
of earthworm castings) but unless they can reach the earth as needed
they will quickly die as exposure to sunlight heats the mass and the
worms will cook.
Above ground composters are a type of industrial equipment used as
chemical digesters for dealing with sewage (from port-a-pottys to
municipal sewage treatment facilities), not something practical for
Those above ground bins are nothing other than port-a-pottys
masquerading as composters, they produce sludge, not humus.
Just a guess, but I wonder if what she calls an above ground bin is exactly
what you and I are using. Let's find out.
Janet, this sits on the ground. Something similar could be made from any
number of other materials. Does this fit your general idea of an above
Following this thread an "above ground composter" evolved into the
rotory type, a bin with no ground contact whatsoever. Actually if the
bin provides the organic matter with any ground contact it is not an
above ground composter... I really don't think any normal brained
person would argue whether the organic matter sits directly on the
ground or in a depression... it's either "above ground" (as in
suspended)or it's not.
A "normal brained" person would have actually read Janet's entire post
(the part that you snipped), where she describes exactly what she's talking
about in reference to her homemade bins using pallets. Additionally, before
going off and attributing a misperception to some other part of the thread,
one might have googled what a "dalek" composter is, even if they had made no
connection to Dr. Who.
Additionally, your narrow definitions concerning composting are beyond
curmudgeonly. Decomposition of organic matter has several intersecting words
to describe the state of the decomposition, which some people might use
interchangeably. The techniques might vary, the results may vary with some
drawbacks, but it's all good to avoid throwing organic matter in the
Nature will continue the process, no matter what state the organic
material has achieved or what words a mere human uses to describe it.
Yes. But what a price!!!!!
Here's the models supplied by local councils (prices in sterling).
Here's pallet compost bins
That's a great site for a variety of composting choices, but will surely
twist "someone's" knickers........... OMG, the Green Cone doesn't produce
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