Learn the basics
This is what you should get if you convert green waste into compost. Any gardener will appreciate the value of this. Green waste will convert quickly in the right conditions. For garden waste you need to chop it as fine as possible to achieve any speed of conversion through a rotating compost bin. If you don’t it will take for ever to convert as (with the exception of lawn clippings) much of what is pruned from shrubs is woody.
There are thousands of composters out there and most produce a usable compost. Be wary of false claims of fast composting.
Compost will not form like the material above in 3 to 4 weeks.
For a good quality sample to form it takes time and some management but nothing more than a gardener with the most basic of skills can handle.
There are two ways of making compost:
Accumulate a heap of green waste, leave it in one place as a single batch and wait for it all to rot down to the consistency of compost as shown above. This will happen, but over a long time.
Accumulate green waste either in a heap or in a rotating compost bin and then either dig the heap over or rotate the vessel. This option will draw air into the mass of material and will accelerate the process considerably.
Compare these two options:
- The first option involves building a heap or filling a static bin. When this is full you need to close off that batch and leave it for time to pass as it rots down. While this is happening you need to start to build another heap or fill another bin. When this is full you have to start another and so on until the first heap or bin contents have rotten completely. This option requires both patience and space.
The second involves being a little more proactive and organised. You need to have a close-off point and stop adding fresh waste to the heap or rotating vessel. You then need to either dig over the heap or rotate the vessel regularly to draw air into the accumulated mass until it has converted completely.
In the case of the heap, this will turn into compost relatively quickly and will take up less space as time goes by. However, because you can’t add new material to this heap, you have to start another.
Why use a rotating compost bin?
With the rotating compost bin we have the advantage of accelerated composting but there will be a point where you can add no more. You have to allow the freshest green waste to catch up with the most rotten material in the vessel.
The question here is, do we empty the vessel and put the contents in a heap (or maybe a static bin), or acquire another rotating vessel and start filling it.
All of the rotating vessels have the issue of having a close-off point even those that have a double chamber. They can’t have any more fresh waste added until the batch has fully turned to compost.
The Rolypig is an exception among composters.
The Rolypig composter is an ‘in one end and out the other’ rotating compost bin system.
You never have to stop feeding it and, when it’s running to full capacity, there is a regular supply of this.
This actually came out of my Rolypig. While we are here, checkout the worms. The beauty of the Rolypig composter is that it doubles as a wormery.
The worms you see in the image migrated in from outside and bred up to considerable numbers. The conditions inside the Rolypig are clearly very favourable.
If you want to build up a worm population quickly, then buying worms is an option but don’t get them until there is enough rotten material available for them to feed on.
I use my Rolypig for just kitchen waste, feeding it once or twice a week. The material you see coming out has been in there for 3 to 4 months. I allow it to stay as full as possible, only taking compost out when it’s difficult to shove fresh waste in at the mouth. This ensures that the worms have a good go at it for as long as possible.
There is also the rolling action which keeps the compost aerated. If at this stage you are wondering about the head, you swivel it up right as you roll it along.
I like my Rolypig.
Having researched a range of rotating compost bin systems, I notice the absence of a very important ingredient. No one mentions the importance of adding lime.
When compost starts to form it generates acid which behaves like vinegar. If we allow this to happen the compost becomes ‘pickled’ and preserved rather than rotting down. Instead of producing compost you will get a wet and heavy lump that doesn’t rot but will smell dreadfully and attract the flies.
Adding lime will avoid this. The amount you add will depend on the volumes of waste involved and will be a matter of trial and error but, if you want to make compost, you must get into the lime habit.
The most efficient composters are the tumbler type and I’ve been looking around to see what the choices are, so now: