Since I moved into my current address almost five years ago I have been using the cylindrical upright type of polycarbonate compost bin left in a corner of the garden by the previous owners. Judging by the clean state of the bin when I started using it I think I was the first to put it to its intended use. The truth is that these compost bins have become so ubiquitous in recent years that everyone seems to think that you need one in order to compost your waste. I would beg to differ! In fact I would argue that it’s only worth buying one of these bins for what they call “city living” where space is at a premium and your compost needs are not so great. Anyone who lives in the suburbs and has a bit more space would be strongly advised to build themselves a good old fashioned compost heap!
Last week I finally decided to ditch my compost bin and build myself the same kind of compost heap my dad kept at the back of the garden when we were growing up.
I had a space of about 12 feet square behind my shed (this would give me almost 10 times the volume compared to my old compost bin!), next to a fence and sheltered from the rest of the garden by shrubs – the soil is not very fertile due to it only being about six inches deep on top of some old concrete foundations and the sun light finds it difficult to penetrate due to the surrounding shade, so nothing really grows in this patch making it ideal for a compost heap!
I took an old wooden pallet that had been lying about for ages doing nothing and dug a foot deep trench opposite the back of the shed and sunk the pallet into the trench making the third wall for the compost heap (pictured). I purposely want to leave the fourth side open to make it easy to add decaying material to the heap and to make it easier to dig out ready compost.
Wooden pallets are particularly useful as walls for compost heaps because as well as being pretty weather resistant, strong and free (usually it isn’t to hard to find some lying about dumped by a lazy neighbour!) they have spacing between the slats which enables air to get into the compost heap which helps to speed up the decomposition of organic matter. In my next post I will be writing about how I layered the heap to ensure a rapid and efficient composting process as possible.