Compost Bins, yes or no?
Please help me decide whether to build a new compost bin. We had an old circular wire bin that we just accumulated grass clippings and leaves in and we just broke it down this spring. I am considering whether to build a new three bin system to actually compost a little more actively. I'd build it from hardware cloth on a wood frame and build a cover that latched on the top, also made of hardware cloth.
I'm cooling off on the idea because in the spring I'm naturally exuberant and gung-ho to do everything garden related, but my enthusiasm wanes as the temperatures rise. Another consideration is there are three people in the family who have back issues, so the passive pile was more suitable but still work that ended up being the whole job for the one person without a back problem. I was thinking that maybe having the three bin system, we could more easily keep up with it by turning it from one bin to the next before a lot of heavy materials accumulated, but I've never used that system and don't really know if it would make any difference at all.
There are two other issues, one is having the piles touching the ground, which I realize is necessary. We have a lot of trees with aggressive roots that grow up into the compost and defeat the purpose of having it. And I worry about covering the ground above tree roots for the health of the trees. Then the last issue is whether I will attract rodents or other creatures and that the cover won't keep them out. I imagine many creatures can chew through that hardware cloth. Then I read about someone struggling to keep yellow jackets from building a nest in their compost pile the other day.
So, what would be my alternative? Heavy mulching of my vegetable and perennial beds with grass clippings and chopped up leaves. Growing cover crops and turning those in to the vegetable beds, and purchasing some organic compost some of the time.
So, what say you? Have you been sailing along with your efforts to make compost, or have their been issues? Would you feel my alternatives would be feasible to continue to improve the soil and maintain fertility? Do you have some tip that simplified your compost making or solved a compost related issue?