Other types of compost bins

There are many types of compost bin available from mail-order catalogues and online suppliers.

Plastic Compost bins – The most popular and cost effective compost bin is the ‘dalek’ shaped Compost Converter which is currently on offer from Somerset Waste Partnership. This cone shaped plastic bin comes in 2 sizes, requires no assembly and features a hatch to access finished compost. Once the compost is ready the easiest way of getting to the compost is to lift up the whole cone, rather like making a sand castle.  The top few layers will probably need to go back into the cone for further composting whilst the bottom layer can be removed, sieved and used.

A range of larger compost bins up to 900 litre are also available on the Somerset Waste Partnership campaign. visit http://www.somerset.getcomposting.com/ to view the full range.

Wormery – A wormery is a home to Tiger or Brandling worms (available from your wormery supplier or local fish bate shop).  Don’t try to use chunky earth worms as they won’t survive in the conditions within a wormery.

Worms will happily digest most types of kitchen scraps (but best to avoid lots of acidic citrus peel and onion skins), and the digested food is turned into compost.  Wormeries produce a liquid which needs to be drained off and once diluted is a fantastic fertilizer for your flowers and vegetables.

As wormeries contain living creatures they need a certain amount of care to ensure conditions are maintained correctly for the worms.  Do not over feed them as the food waste will rot before they can get to work.  They also need protection during winter months, keep the wormery in a shed or garage or wrap with insulation so the worms don’t freeze.

Wormeries come in two main design styles, either a bin type shaped in which layers can be created or bins consisting of individual chambers.  As the worms digest their food source they climb upwards seeking further meals.  The worm casts can be harvested to enrich the garden and the liquid they produce needs to be drained off.  This should be diluted before feeding to plants but is a rich source of nutrients.

Bokashi Bin – These food digesters can work well for those with limited outside space.  Usually purchased as two separate units which work in sequence the system also requires the use of impregnated bran to ferment rather than compost food wastes.  Once the food waste has gone through the system it is still recognisable but it becomes inert and safe to put out into the garden (or into a traditional composting system).  Food is added in layers and topped with the bran – don’t be too stringy with the bran or the process wont work.  A Bokashi unit also requires draining and the juice diluted and used as a plant feed.

Generally once one unit is filled it is left to ferment and the other unit then is used.

Green Johanna – Those with plenty of space may with to try using a Green Johanna.  These look like well vented compost bins being cone shaped but unlike a traditional ‘dalek’ bin are used with a base plant and winter jacket (for insulation).  Originating from Sweden Green Johanna’s are designed to continue to work in lower temperatures, whilst the ventilation system enables internal temperatures to reach 650C, therefore enabling them to be suitable for the composting of food waste as well as garden wastes.

Green Cone – Across Somerset we offer a free kerbside food waste recycling service but you may wish to install a Green Cone.  These digest food waste and unlike a compost bin or wormery you won’t get compost out of them.  They should be installed in a sunny spot with the basket dug into the ground and the cone above catching the sun’s rays.  The high temperature and aerobic activity breaks down food wastes into water, carbon dioxide and a small solid residue which remains underground.  Unlike a compost bin, the contents don’t require turning and neither should you add garden waste such a twiggy material into the cone.

Where to place your compost bin

Try to place your compost bin where you have easy access to it.  If you have difficulty getting to the bin you won’t regularly add material to it and the composting process will slow down.  They work best if they get some sunshine and are on grass or soil which allows liquid to drain away and the mini-beats which make the compost access.  If you need to put the compost on concrete or hard paving, add a few sticks at the bottom to create air pockets and introduce a small amount of soil to add some micro-organisms into the mix.