Need a compost bin?

WrittenOnWater(N. VA 7a)February 21, 2014

I am new to composting, but as my garden grows, it's becoming necessary to save on buying bags of gardening soil. I see folks who buy composting bins and others who throw things in a pile. I live in a townhouse, so I'm leaning toward a rotating bin to avoid bothering the neighbors, but don't see why they are so expensive!

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robertz6

One reason is to pay for all the advertising. It takes money to convince people to pay $80 to $500 for a tumbler when a $20 mesh bin DIY system hold more! And after a year and half I gave up my tumbler for mesh bins. They do better in the winter, and surprisingly mine was even easier on my back than the tumbler.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 4:06PM
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toxcrusadr

Yes, forget the tumbler and get a simple mesh bin, or if you want an even neater appearance, a nice black plastic bin with a lid.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 4:55PM
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WrittenOnWater(N. VA 7a)

Thank you for the reply! Sounds like I should reconsider my purchase. What do you mean when you say the tumbler didn't do as well in the winter?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 4:57PM
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JCTsai(8B - Jacksonville, FL)

Can you find a free barrel somewhere?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 8:29PM
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WrittenOnWater(N. VA 7a)

Thank you all! Actually, after checking Craig's List, I was able to find a rotating composter for $15. Worth it?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:45AM
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robertz6

" What do you mean when you say the tumbler didn't do as well in the winter?"

My mesh bins are 4'by8'by24" high. There is a lot more bulk, and it sits on the ground. So while the tumbler will pretty much be frozen any time the winter temp is below 32F, there will be more activity in the mesh bin. And there is access for any interested worms, which is a plus.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:56PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

'Worth it?'

I'd ask myself why the person is getting rid of the tumbler. And what state it's in for that price. Keep it simple and get a roll of wire netting or three pallets. Or a plastic compost bin. Does your local authority do a deal on bins?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:55PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

There is no real need for a compost bin. All that a bin will do is contain the material to be composted. A bin will not digest, or provide an environment that will digest, that material. A bin may aid in keeping excess water from the material, however.
There is also no real good reason to purchase soil for the garden. All one needs do is add adequate amounts of organic matter to the mineral soil that is there. Maybe, if one is building raised beds purchasing soil might be considered.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 6:47AM
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robertz6

"There is no real need for a compost bin."

Try putting a uncontained pile in your back yard of any metro area, and see how fast your neighbors mention it. Or call the local code enforcers.

There is a real need for compost bins (for most of us).
1) They save space
2) Retain heat more efficiently than a heap (if you have a warm or hot mix)
3) They can discourage animals
4) They appeal to your neighbors more than a heap. Keep in mind that many neighbors expect compost piles to smell more than the fresh grass they just piled up along their fence.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 4:18PM
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captaindirt(6/7)

I start the beds by pulling big weeds and then putting down news papers as a barrier and then mulch on top of the paper. I do this every year and it works great for keeping weeds at bay. Others have told me they only put News paper down the first year and only mulch aftwer that.
what do you do?
Thanks

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:35PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I once made a tumbler compost bin from a 50 gal metal drum. What a pain it was to turn, especially when it was full. And since I wasn't real careful making it, it leaked/dripped through the door that rigged up. Even if you get a plastic one, think about how heavy it will be when full and fully watered. and It needs vents of some kind so it will leak smelly liquids when you turn it.

I have a nice looking plastic bin and it works ok, but the output is limited. You can't replace the bags of garden soil with one of these bins.

I wanted a larger bin so I took four metal posts (ent conduit pipe...very cheap) and ran some 36" high stucco wire around them and ended up with a 4'x5' bin. Stucco wire is a high quality, made in USA, chicken wire, cheaper than the chinese crapola chicken wire you buy at Home Depot. But you have to buy a 150 ft roll of it.

If you want to make a nice looking larger bin, use 4x4 wood posts and run hardware cloth around the exterior. Or, better yet, find out where local landscapers buy their compost and soil mixtures, borrow a pickup truck and buy what you need by the cubic yard. It is much much cheaper that way. I easily fit a yard of compost ($30) into the back of my 1984 Toyota pickup.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 1:38AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Ma Nature has made compost for more years then all of us put together and has never, as far as I know, used a bin. Do not equate what may be desirable with what is necessary.
A bin may be desirable to aid in keeping the composting material contained, some few people may find a bin better to look at then a composting pile, but they do not help retain any heat or discourage vermin.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:03AM
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josko021

A friend in Metro Boston has asked me to help her start composting, and I could use some help with my advice.
It's a pretty uptight area, so appearance, looks, lack of odors, and lack of "omigod, animals" is very important. A couple hundred bucks for a bin, tumbler or what not is absolutely fine. The goals here are to get started, not make enemies of neighbors, and reduce waste stream a bit. There's a steady supply of hardwood sawdust to prevent any over-green issues. It's a single-person household on a 1/2 acre lawn/woodland lot.
I know for sure that my usual pallet bin compost pile would never survive the scrutiny.
What should I tell her to get? Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:56AM
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toxcrusadr

Look for something like the Earth Machine or the Home Composter, or any of a host of others that are basically plastic containers with lids. You can find them at hardware and home centers, nurseries, or online. Also check whether your city has any kind of program to promote composting. Often they sell such bins at cost. At retail it will be less than $100.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lots of Plastic Compost Bins

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

This website has about the best tutorial on composting
I have seen. Refer your friend to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:25AM
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