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Worm Bins

Composting is a great way to dispose of kitchen waste and reduce your carbon footprint, but what if you don’t have room for a compost bin? Worm bins are often touted as  the answer. This is as it sounds, a bin full of worms – worms that transform food scraps into compost. It can, so the adverts say, be kept in the kitchen. I always wanted to try worm composting so I sent off for a worm bin from the internet. It consisted of four stackable plastic boxes (the type found in stationers), a bag of worms and some food. It looked basic but it was considerably cheaper than the others.

I decided to keep mine in the garage. I stacked the boxes, tipped the worms in and left the lights on all night as per instructions. All went well till the night the lights were turned off. The stackable boxes did not form a sealed unit and there were numerous gaps through which the worms could escape. While it was bright outside the light sensitive worms stayed put, as soon as it got dark they left their bin and went exploring the garage. Next morning saw me picking up worms with the barbeque tongs while VB complained loudly about the desecration of his drill bits. He threatened to sacrifice the worms on the bird table if a solution wasn’t found.

So I fashioned a worm proof bin from the compost caddy. I installed a   drainage tap to drain off the worm tea (a juice created as the food in the bin rots down). I covered the base with  a layer of gravel so the worms didn’t drown in the tea and the compost didn’t block the tap outlet. It was rather like the one built here, the first bin,  Then I carefully decanted the worms  and wished them well in their new home.

Mindful of the bird table threats I moved the into  the cellar.

I mollycoddled those worms. I cut the food scraps up into worm size pieces and gave them ripped up newspaper and cardboard – apparently they delight in it. Nothing. Instead of piles of compost all I had was a bin full of festering food. The arrival of the fruit flies was the last straw. Fed up with the ungrateful liggers I capped the bin with soil and cut off food supplies.

A couple of weeks later I went down to get a hammer and found the bin standing in a lake of worm tea. Yay!

This fluid (it is claimed on many site), is  a superior plant feed and can be used to cure black spot on roses. There it was dribbling from my poorly fitted tap. It is a sign that the worm bin is working as it should. Indeed a quick rummage in the bin revealed healthy looking worms the size of anacondas. Worm tea was another reason I wanted a worm bin. Hundreds of sites on the internet claimed that this could be used as a fantastic liquid plant food. Plastic free plant food I thought. Turns out I was wrong.

So worm feeding resumed. By bin does not work fast enough to  make a meaningful  impact on our kitchen waste but it’s a start. Apparently it will increase with time. I don’t think I have the patience – but then I have a perfectly good compost bin in the garden.

And no wI find that worm tea might not be that good either.

“The watery drainage that seeps out of the bottom of a bin is not compost tea as many sites assert. Leaching through yet undigested food waste, this leachate (as it is known) could contain toxic anaerobic microbes that would be harmful to plants.

Not only will there be unmineralized organic compounds, but there is the potential for contamination of pathogen organisms and coliform bacteria that can come from some of the raw materials (another reason to always pre-compost fresh manure) put into worm bin systems.

The best place for this leachate to go is back in the bin. That way, it gets exposed to the worm’s gut to be innoculated with good microbes and is excreted fully sanitised.” Thanks Sierra Worm Compost!

Still fancy trying it?  If you decide to buy a worm bin my advice is to spend the extra. The more expensive bins boast such conveniences as worm proof lids – a definite bonus. There are hundreds of internet companies selling bins. Here’s one chosen at random.

If you want to make a bin, there are good instructions here. I recommend the first option, the bin with the tap, rather than the second, the stackable boxes.

This is a good article on worm composting and how to get worms for free.  N.B. the home made bin looks rather like the one I bought, the leaky one.

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If you want to keep your bin outside you have to protect it from extreme heat and cold. There may be better outdoor options.

Don’t like worms but fancy composting? Read this intro 

 

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Friends who compost…

Don’t fancy composting yourself? Neither did Jen! So she found a super green option! Heres an extract from her post

I have to be honest – I put off composting for a long time. We have a small garden and I didn’t want to pong it out with a large
bin of old rotting food. Plus I’m not paricularly green fingered. At most, I’ll have a pot of herbs in the kitchen, which sometimes I accidentally kill. I’m not sure I would use the resulting soil.

So I found a person locally who was willing to pick up my compost.

There’s a website called Streetlife “the local social network” where you can communicate with your community.

Read more here

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This would be a good use for Bokashi Bins. These bins let you store masses of kitchen waste before it needs collecting and composting elsewhere. More on Bokashi Bins here

Do fancy composting? Read this intro 

 

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Compost Bin – underground

You can put ALL your food waste into your Green Cone including meat, fish, bones, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. There are so many good reasons to compost not least because you can dispense with bin liners.

“The waste is digested rather than composted and is primarily reduced to water. This nutrient rich water enters the soil under the base of the digestion unit. There is no need to turn waste over like in a traditional composter.

For anyone who does not have the time to compost, the Green Cone is the ultimate waste food disposal solution. Most Green Cones produce so little residue that they will need cleaning only once every few years.

Features
Composts ALL food waste
Completely natural process
No need to turn waste over”

Composting at it’s easiest, though perhaps not it’s most attractive!

You can buy them from Even Greener who claim that

  • 4. CREDENTIALS Most of our products are made in the UK in our own factory.
  • 5. GREEN MANUFACTURE Most of our compost bins and water butts are made from recycled plastic using renewable energy.
  • 6. PRICE GUARANTEE Find it cheaper elsewhere and we will refund the difference.*
  • 7. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED Not 100% delighted? Return your goods within 30 days for a full refund.**

 

See more composting posts here

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Bokashi Bins

Because I love all things compost, I invested in a Bokashi kit – two bins with taps and bokashi bran.

Lots of articles you read will say that you can use a bokashi bin to make compost. NO YOU CAN NOT. At least not in the sense that word is usually used. You can use it to make pickled, partially-dehydrated, fermented waste. However the resulting material still needs to be aged in soil or  a compost bin before it can be used on the garden.

This is a  two stage process.

BUT you can use the bokashi process to store a lot of food waste for weeks in a small bucket before further composting it. So what’s is the point of that?

  • It makes a green waste collection service viable.
  • Bokashi juice it is claimed makes a great house plant feed though some dispute that.
  • Reduces trips to the compost bin if your bin is on your allottment say.
  • It is a good way to start the decomposition process

How it works

The bokashi bin is a Japanese system that pickles your waste.

  • You put the waste in a bin ( can be anything including meat)
  •  press it down hard  and sprinkle with bacteria (bokashi) laced bran.
  • The bacteria begin to pickle your waste.
  • As it does so the waste begins to ooze juice. This you drain off. This juice can be used as a liquid feed.
  • Once the bucket is full you leave it to stand.
  • You can fit two weeks waste of two people (who cook fresh everyday) into one bucket.

What to do with your pickled waste?

  • You can feed it to the worms in your worm bin. Bokashi is claimed to help in  a limited space worm composting system. Compressing food waste means you can fit so much more in your worm bin and because it is part broken down, they deal with it more quickly.
  • You can put it on the compost heap again benefitting from reduced space requirements and increased composting times
  • You can dig it into the soil but you need to bury it deep to avoid attracting hungry animals who will dig it back up again. Personally I cannot see the point in that!
  • Not tried this  you can also bury your fermented food waste in an enclosed bin or box. Best to use a bin that has at least a 20 gal capacity. Start by adding 1″ of soil to bottom of bin. Next, add your fermented food waste. Add some more soil on top of that and mix it in with the food waste. Pour 3″-4″ inches of soil on top of food waste, soil mixture and pack it down. Cover the bin. Food waste should be completely broken down and ready to plant in 4-5 weeks. You can continue to stack additional fermented waste on top until your bin is full. Plant  your favorite veggies directly in bin when food waste has been completely broken down.
  • here are links to people who do this in the U.K.  “You add the pickled veg to the bottom of a pot or mix it in with the compost. You then need to let it settle for a couple of weeks, but then you can grow in it. The pickled veg rots down very quickly once in the soil. Basically, bokashi vastly accelerates the decomposition process – so although you don’t get ready made compost out of it, it is well on its way. Personally I prefer to use worm compost, but bokashi is a useful alternative.”

I can testify that bokashi bins work really well for storing waste but because my compost bin is so great,(it can compost anything and is rat proof), and is close by ( just at the end of our very small garden) I don’t really have much use for my Bokashi bin.

I do use it very cold winters when the daily trip to the bin is just too horrid.

I thought I was getting a good deal with the liquid feed but this article suggest otherwise.  “The majority of nutrients in food scraps is contained in large molecules like protein, DNA, carbohydrates, fats, oils etc. Since bokashi does not break down the food scraps these nutrients are still bound up in large molecules at the end of the bokashi process. That is why an apple still looks like an apple at the end of the process. The nutrients will not get released until the future composting process is completed.”

Interesting stuff as is this.  Bokashi in way more detail

Buy

You can buy bokashi bins from Even Greener who claim that

  • 4. CREDENTIALS Most of our products are made in the UK in our own factory. Including these bins.
  • 5. GREEN MANUFACTURE Most of our compost bins and water butts are made from recycled plastic using renewable energy.
  • 6. PRICE GUARANTEE Find it cheaper elsewhere and we will refund the difference.*
  • 7. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED Not 100% delighted? Return your goods within 30 days for a full refund.**

Make

If you are handy you can apparently make everything yourself including bokashi bran. I have never tried but seen online links.

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Dog poop bags and composting waste

This is something I really hate …. plastic bags of dog @*%! hanging from the bushes.

But then plastic bags of dog poop anywhere are a bad idea and a big problem!

According to PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) the dog population of the U.K., in 2014, stood at 9 million. The average dog according to Streetkleen produces 340g of fecal matter per day x 9,000,000 dog population = 3,060 tonnes of poo per day x 365 days per year =1,111,900 tonnes of dog poo annually.

Why Not Landfill?

Putting plastic bags of poop in landfill is problematic for the following reasons

  • Biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of landfill. It bubbles away producing methane another more potent greenhouse gas.
  • The non biodegradable waste, plastic, is there for ever.
  • As of April 2016 Landfill Tax is £84.40 per tonne . At over a million tons that poop costs a lot.
  • we are running out of holes

What to do?

But how do you dispose of dog poop  responsibly and environmentally?

This might be an answer –use compostable plastic bags such as  BioBag dog bags and get a pet poop composter. You can read more about compostable plastics here and you can find cheaper than Biobags by Googling.

Pet poop composter

I believe that composting is the future. A household that can turn its own waste into food for the plants is truly sustainable and delightfully green. And who wouldn’t want to be any of those?  I have a number of compost bins BUT I don’t have a pet so cannot try this. I thought of getting a puppy but apparently  they are for life, not just for composting.

How they work…

Now as I understand it, the pet waste composter is a bin set in the ground. Chuck the pop in and nature will deal with it naturally. It will compost away. Just to reiterate, the resulting material is left in place. It is not meant to be used as compost, rather that the composting process is used to naturally dispose of dog poop!

Have a look at these ready made dog waste composters. You bury it in the back garden and drop in the poop.

Here is an Australian product called Yard Art in action

Here is a home made one

And an  article,  you can read on the subject.
Using the Compost…nooooooooo

MATT SULLIVAN writes a thoughtful and informative piece about the joys and perils of pet poop composting. As he says “several writers discourage pet owners from the practice at all. Others gave specific warnings of not using the final composted product in any edible gardens. A handful wrote that the compost from domestic animals was safe and could be used in vegetable crops.”

But, despite doom laden warnings, he goes ahead and uses worms to compost his dog dirt. It’s a success and he concludes that “even if you have no desire to add compost to your garden, I believe it makes sense to be a good steward of your animals. You feel good, help out the environment, and have an excuse to spend time outside.”

Wise words.

English: A worm composting bin. Worms are eati...

A worm composting bin. Worms are eating the newspaper bedding and producing compost. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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You can find hundreds of different composting methods here  including links to worm bins and underground composers.

This is an interesting idea – biogas from dog poo. 

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Compost Bin basic – cheap but rats!

I’ve had my compost bin for 14 months now and I am very pleased with it. I use it for garden litter which saves on boring trips to the tip, and kitchen waste which it gobbles up by the bucket load. This, rather than compost, is what I bought it for. Biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of a rubbish dump. It bubbles away producing methane which adds to the greenhouse effect. Simply by putting my kitchen waste in a different bin I am reducing my carbon footprint.

It is also a practical investment for the future. The Uk government is committed to reducing the amount of biodegradable waste in landfill by 50%, by the year 2020; I don’t know how they plan to do this – compulsory composting perhaps? Separate waste collections? Investing in herds of municipal swine? Whatever – as 30% of uk domestic waste is organic this is bound to affect us all. Setting up a home composting system seems a sensible precaution.

There are many different ways to compost, from the traditional heap at the bottom of the garden to micro biological systems. Being new to composting I chose the easiest and cheapest option – a plastic bin stood in the garden. I got mine from Kirklees Council in partnership with Recycle Now. Recycle Now offer advice on all things pertaining to compost. They also sell a range of composting bins which, if you are a Kirklees resident, you can buy at a subsidised rate. There are some real bargains to be had.

As a waste disposal unit my compost bin was fantastic and massively reduced the amount going in my black bin.

The the RATS arrived!

Now I had been extremely careful what I put in it. No cooked food or dairy was to be found in there but seems the rats liked salad.

I stopped putting food waste in but the rats stayed. It was like a kind of rat hive in there.

And they ate everything I gave them, even the Leylandii hedge clippings. Now while I admire anything that can eat,and apparently enjoy Leylandii, I cant stand rats.

So I went out and  got myself a Green Johanna   compost bin. It is considered to be the rolls Royce of compost bins, and  is priced appropriately. However it claimed to be rat proof. You can read about it here

The black bin was abandoned till everything in it turned to compost. It was then moved to the allotment where it is happy eating leaves and other gardening detritus.

 

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Compost bin in a kitchen cupboard

I am lucky enough to have a garden where I can keep  my compost bin. However if you don’t have the space, you could try one of these and compost in your kitchen.How it works?

composter composter2

Naturemill Automatic Compost Bin.

Two chamber design: So clean and easy, you can even compost indoors. Add food at any time into the  upper  chamber. Heat, mixing, and oxygen help the natural  cultures  break down the food within days – before odors  develop. Push a button to transfer  to the  tray below. It will continue to compost there for another week, while you fill  the upper chamber again. Remove the tray at your convenience.

Here is a Treehugger review

Buy

This company are based in America though the company does list European suppliers

David Tapley might sell them in the UK and possibly this guy on Amazon.

Why

Why compost – well it means no more plastic bin liners, along with numerous other benefits.

More

You can find a whole load of other ways to compost here

 

 

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Compost Bin the Green Johanna

I started composting with a simple black bin, the economy discounted version from the council. I chucked the food in and it biodegraded down into brown sticky stuff.  For 14 months all was well – then the rats arrived. I stopped putting (uncooked) food waste in but the rats stayed. 

So I went out and  got myself a Green Johanna   compost bin.

Considered to be the rolls Royce of compost bins, and  is priced appropriately.

However it claimed to be rat proof and able to compost everything including cooked food waste and bones.

Wincing slightly I parted with the cash and it duly arrived flat packed ready for us to erect.

The full kit Includes:
1 x Mixing stick
4 x Outer rings
1 x Lid
1 x Base
2 x Doors
1 x Bag of fixing screws
1 x Instruction manual

It was easy to install and looked just like an ordinary compost bin. Except it had a floor. It came with  complex sounding  instructions which we ignored, and a stirring stick we rarely used. Despite this it worked fine.

Two years later I can confirm that it can dispose of a chicken carcasses, lamb shanks a dead rat and PLA plastic pots. The live rats have left – moved on to find more accessible bins no doubt.

Plastic we use….

This compost bin is made of plastic and I am fine with that because I think that plastic is the best man for the job. It is waterproof, rot proof, light weight, and best of all, RAT PROOF.

More importantly it keeps a lot of biodegradable rubbish out of landfill which reduces our carbon foot print.

We will also get some compost for the garden so reducing our reliance on manufactured fertilizers.

Its worth it.

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Fancy composting? Want something cheaper? Read this intro 

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Hot to Rot? A Composting Introduction

Composting accelerates the natural process of biodegrading or rotting down organic waste material into a rich soil or compost. Its the only sustainable way to deal with our waste… we love it.

It sounds complex, and  many  treat it as some kind of arcane science, but basically you pile your biological waste into a compost bin, keep it warm and it rots down naturally into a rich soil or compost. I do it without much effort. If it took much effort I wouldn’t! With the right bins you can turn all your scraps into plant food, or, if you don’t need plant food, dispose of your waste ecologically.comost bin featured

Great Reasons to Compost

  • You can use your compost bin  for garden litter which saves on boring trips to the tip.
  • You can dispose of your own kitchen waste which it gobbles up by the bucket load.
  • You can keep biodegradable waste out of landfill. Why? Well, biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of landfill. It bubbles away producing methane which adds to the greenhouse effect.
  • And so, composting reduces your carbon footprint  by diverting biodegradable waste from landfill.
  • It is  a practical investment for the future. The Uk government is committed to reducing the amount of biodegradable waste in landfill by 50%, by the year 2020. As 30% of UK domestic waste is organic this will affect us all. Setting up a home composting system is just getting ahead of the game.
  • Cuts our dependance on waste collection services by taking responsibility for our own waste.
  • Cut bin liners. No need  to wrap my mushy waste as it all goes straight in the compost bin. Read living without bin liners  for more information.

How It Works

All natural (as oppose to synthetic) materials do eventually biodegrade or rot. Here’s how long it takes for some commonly used products to biodegrade, when they are scattered about as litter:

Paper ~ 2-5 months
Cotton rags ~ 1-5 month
Natural fiber rope ~ 3-14 months compost bokashi
Orange peel ~6 months
Wool socks ~1 to 5 years
Leather shoes ~25 to 40 years
Tin cans ~ 50 to 100 years

Composting speeds up that process and results in a lovely rich soil additive that can be spread on the garden to feed the plants and micro beasties.  

It is also a way of managing your own waste. If every bit of trash was compostable you could get out of that destructive relationship with your landfill bin.

Useful composting information

Biodegradable –Biodegradable products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism, such as fungi or bacteria over a period of time. More about biodegrading here

Compostable – To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain amount of time, the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive.

Composting Standards For a man-made product to be legally sold as compostable, it has to meet rigorous composting standards

How to Compost?

So you are now hot to rot but which bin to go with?

A heap…

You can compost in a heap which is just as it sounds. You heap your compostables up and leave them to rot down. However composting works quicker when there is heat. To create heat you need to contain your heap. It needs enclosing.

Build a wooden bin…

These bins are not fully sealed. Animals (rats and mice) can get in so you need to be careful what you put on them. No meat dairy or cooked food. You can quickly and cheaply  build a compost bin out of scrap wood or pallets. Or you can buy wooden frames ready made.

Plastic Ready Made Bins

The next option is to buy a ready made plastic bin.

Basic Bin I got my first bin from the council. It didn’t work for me.. rats invaded my bin and refused to leave. Other people manage though. Rats can get in these bins because they are not fully sealed.

Enclosed Systems I use an enclosed system called the Green Johanna to compost everything. Yes its plastic but you can compost meat, dairy, cooked food and  NO RATS. Highly Reccomended!

Underground Systems If you just want to get rid of your waste rather than use the resulting compost,  you  could try an underground composting system. You put your rubbish in and the ground eats it. One such is  the green cone that just eats your biodegradable rubbish. Underground  bins can also be used to compost your pet poop .

Composting Indoors

Electrical Units composterThis is a nifty little electric composting unit that you can keep indoors in a kitchen cupboard

Other Ways

Bokashi Bins are not strictly composting but pickling. Great to  use in conjunction with worm bins.

Worm bins – a bin of worms that eat your rubbish.

Read all about these bins here……

Worm Bins

Composting is a great way to dispose of kitchen waste and reduce your carbon footprint, but what if you don’t ...
Read More

Friends who compost…

Don't fancy composting yourself? Neither did Jen! So she found a super green option! Heres an extract from her post ...
Read More

Compost Bin – underground

You can put ALL your food waste into your Green Cone including meat, fish, bones, dairy products, vegetables and fruit ...
Read More

Bokashi Bins

Because I love all things compost, I invested in a Bokashi kit - two bins with taps and bokashi bran ...
Read More

Carpark composting

It's a compost bin... in a car park.... next to the other rubbish bins. How cool. How French! ...
Read More

Dog poop bags and composting waste

This is something I really hate …. plastic bags of dog @*%! hanging from the bushes. But then plastic bags ...
Read More

Compost Bin basic – cheap but rats!

I’ve had my compost bin for 14 months now and I am very pleased with it. I use it for ...
Read More

Compost bin in a kitchen cupboard

I am lucky enough to have a garden where I can keep my compost bin. However if you don't have ...
Read More

Compost Bin the Green Johanna

I started composting with a simple black bin, the economy discounted version from the council. I chucked the food in ...
Read More

Hot to Rot? A Composting Introduction

Composting accelerates the natural process of biodegrading or rotting down organic waste material into a rich soil or compost. Its ...
Read More

 compost PLA

Plastic and Composting 

 Because they are man-made, the majority of plastics do not biodegrade.

However there are some plastics you can compost. Check out these compostable plastics

Buy

There are plenty of links in the posts  links above to the suppliers

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know..

 

 

Biard Eco Recycled Platic Environmentally Friendly Bokashi Composting Bucket Bin to help Compost Household / Kitchen / Food Waste Blackwall Twin Pack Bokashi Bin Bokashi Bran 3kg
Biard Eco Recycled Platic Environmentally F… £27.99 Blackwall Twin Pack Bokashi Bin £36.00 Bokashi Bran 3kg £16.50
Green Johanna Hot Composter Hatch for Blackwall Compost Converter Wooden Composter Large
Green Johanna Hot Composter £104.00 Hatch for Blackwall Compost Converter £7.50 Wooden Composter Large £34.99
Wooden Compost Bin 328L in BeeHive Style 337 FSC Classic Single Wooden Compost Bin FSC Classic Triple Wooden Compost Bin
Wooden Compost Bin 328L in BeeHive Style 337 £54.95 FSC Classic Single Wooden Compost Bin £84.99 FSC Classic Triple Wooden Compost Bin £209.99

 

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. This is not why we do it.