Every garden needs a compost bin, or three. How do you use a garden compost bin to give you the best compost in the shortest time? Compost bins come in many shapes and sizes from round plastic ones to barrels that tumble your compost.
Why Do You Need a Garden Compost Bin?
Garden compost bins serve two purposes; they reduce the amount of waste material that goes into your trash collection and they produce a fertile, soil-like material you can use in your garden.
In some countries people already pay for every pound of trash that is collected and this policy is likely to become more common, rather than less. Vegetable waste weighs heavy and represents a large part of the weight of a trash bin. Removing waste vegetables from your bin will make it a lot lighter and could save you money.
Turning your potato peelings into soil is something that appeals to most people. It saves on the cost of buying compost and fertiliser and gives you better vegetables.
What Kinds of Garden Compost Bin are Available?
Most people use the ready-made plastic type of compost bin. These may be square, made of slot together panels, or round. The biggest problem with these is their inherent lack of strength.
You can buy wooden kits to make garden compost bins from. The kits contain pre-cut 6 inch planks that slot together to make a square bin that is strong enough to last for years. These bins are attractive and large enough to make a useful garden compost bin.
You can also buy barrel-type bins that you rotate regularly to make your compost much faster. This is the most expensive option, but you get your compost faster and it is going to have fewer viable weed seeds in it because the heat from the faster composting will have killed them.
You can even make your own garden compost bins by nailing together old wooden pallets. Just saw them in half lengthways and nail them together.
Will One Garden Compost Bin Be Enough?
No. You need at least two garden compost bins and preferably three or more. You need one to start with that you will fill with kitchen vegetable waste and grass cuttings. It does not turn to compost overnight and could take 6 months or more.
When your first compost bin is full you will need a second one to take your potato peelings and other waste.
Your life is much easier if you have third bin to turn the compost from your full compost bin. Otherwise you have to toss it onto the ground and then back into the compost bin, lifting all the compost twice.
Do You Need to DO Anything to the Compost?
Yes. Bacteria break down the vegetable waste is in your garden compost bin; bacteria need oxygen, so the more oxygen the more bacteria there will be and the faster your waste will be turned into compost.
You need to turn the compost regularly, every 4-6 weeks in summer and every 8-12 weeks in winter. The easiest way to do this is to use a garden fork to toss the partially decomposed compost into an empty compost bin.
You will need to turn every compost heap at least three times. This is why the rotating compost maker has become a lot more popular; it does away with all that heavy lifting and tossing.
What Can Go Into Your Garden Compost Bin?
Uncooked vegetable waste such as peelings and apple cores
Potato leaves etc. from the vegetable garden
NO cooked vegetables
NO weeds' seeds or tap roots