Monday, May 12, 2008

Top Ten Compost Systems

dalek type compost binAs part of our Composting Challenge, Bean Sprouts presents the top ten composting systems.

1. Pile up organic stuff in a heap and wait
PROS: cheap, easy, effective
CONS: takes up space, quite slow

2. Build a compost box, either make your own or buy it like this one from Wiggly Wigglers.
PROS: more aesthetically appealling than a heap
CONS: they can be quite pricey if you buy them, you need a suitable spot in your garden

CompostBox3. Plastic compost bin, aka "dalek". You might be able to get a free or subsidised one from your council, visit the RecycleNow website to find out.
PROS: even tidier than a compost box, quite compact
CONS: you still need a garden or at least a patio

4. Tumbler, such as this one at Just Green.
PROS: supposed to be faster than a dalek, sounds quite good fun
CONS: space again, and are they easy to turn when they're full or do you have to be quite strong?

5. Green Cone
PROS: can compost cooked food, meat or fish, bones, dairy products which other composting systems can't deal with
CONS: They're not cheap, you need a garden with some earth as half of the system is buried underground.

Green Cone6. Leaf mould composting. There's a video about it here
PROS: make something useful out of fallen leaves, very easy
CONS: you need enough leaves to start with, takes a long time

7. Bokashi, an effective microorganism (EM) that speeds up composting incredibly. Here is the system sold by Wiggly Wigglers
PROS: very quick, can compost in a sealed bin indoors
CONS: cost, you have to keep buying the bran impregnated with EMs.

8. Trench composting - basically fill a trench with organic waste, cover it over, and plant on top. There are instructions on how to do this at Instructables
PROS: Cheap, you can combine this with the bokashi method by adding some EM impregnated bran to the trench to speed up composting
CONS: All that digging is hard work, you need a garden you're willing to dig up so maybe not suitable if all you have is lawn and flowerbeds

9. Wormery, such as these from Wormcity
PROS: some systems are suitable for indoor use, good if you don't have large volumes of compostable waste
CONS: if you get it wrong the worms can die, some people are squeamish about worms
Wormery
10. Compost toilet, like these from NatSol
PROS: recycle your own humanure, modern ones look just like normal toilets
CONS: A lot of people might feel this is a step too far, you've got to remove the compost at the end of the process

If you decide to try one of these methods, please vote in the poll in the right hand side bar.

19 comments:

sophiedb said...

I have no idea why we never thought of calling our bins Daleks *head!desk* The Cult of Skaro is living in my back garden..

booyaa said...

what an excellent blogpost! thank you for pointing out the instructables tip, we'll use it to condition our soil for next years crops!

we've got two "daleks" on order, we'll have to buy plungers for both of them now! :D

Jane said...

We have a dalek and I made a hole in it and stuck a cane with half a coconut on the end into it. My husband stopped me from painting it black and gold for a dalek supreme.

BTW the greencone as far as I know is designed to rot down waste til there's nothing left and doesn't actually produce compost.

Z said...

Whatever you decide on, far better to have two if possible, so that one can be rotting down/being used while the other is being added to. Ideally, unless you have a tumbler, you add to bin/heap 1, turn it over into bin/heap 2, to aid rotting and mixing, and put your compostables into 1 again.

Z said...

By the way, Mel, my son has put up instructions on his website to make carrier bags out of newspaper - http://www.greengreengrocer.co.uk/newspaper-bags. They are vastly popular with his customers and he's hoping that people will make them rather than keep taking the ones he makes.
I wouldn't usually put up a link to me or my family, but as it's free, green and useful, I thought you might be interested.

Z said...

Whoops, don't go to that yet - the instructions have vanished. I'll get on to him and have it changed.

Multiveg said...

Lol, booyaa - a while ago, Blue Peter dressed up their "dalek" compost bin into a Dalek with sink plunger, and polystyrene (I think)balls. Shame it is no longer on the Blue Peter website.
We have daleks, and a sort of new zealand box, plus bokashi bin (not so expensive if you can get it through RecycleNow). Started bucket number 2 while first bucket ferments....

Mjohnson said...

I've tumbled a tumbler and yes you have to be quite strong, not that I'm all that strong. I'd say if you're a bit on the small side you may have to find a friend to help. Of course mine might just have been a bit of a tricky one. It was old, the stuff at the bottom was very well rotted.

Ruth said...

On the subject of composting - my compost book arrived on Saturday! Thank you Mel! And just in time for your composting challenge... Coincidence? I think not.

Shannon said...

good to know info ! i've been wanting to start a compose pile for awhile .
great blog ! :)

Wormcity said...

Thank you for including our wormery in your top 10

MamaBird said...

Awesome! We have a tumbler but as someone in comments pointed out you really need 2 systems (our tumbler is now full, eek). Short on space so I am thinking of either worms or bokashi... Thanks for the links!

Jessica said...

I read a great book called "The Humanure Handbook" that teaches all about the what's, why's and how's of compost, as well as how to compost human manure. It's a great read. One thing I got from it is that any way of doing compost is just fine, even our way of just letting it sit in a pile until it's decomposed. Compost is so amazing and so simple!
If you are interested, this is my blog post on the topic: http://tinyurl.com/52grwm

Jessica
www.practicalnourishment.com

Chile said...

We had a rotating drum for a while. When it was half full, it was hard to spin, and if too moved vigorously, had a tendency to come off its base (which collected worm tea). It was also sorely lacking ventilation holes which didn't work well here in the desert. We got rid of that and are now just doing two piles. I just blogged about this as I just redid the compost pile with chicken/sheep manure and pine needles. The manure seems to be the hot tip for faster composting.

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