The Continuous Composter
Recycling in Smaller Spaces Made Easy

You've probably seen the ready-made composters available for small to medium sized gardens. Their good design owes much to moulded recycled plastics. They work by a steady thru-put of regular small-scale additions of organic matter.

Small Scale Continuous Compost Making

The time and expense to build a small heap with timber construction hardly seems worth it. That's why the (re-cycled) plastic container is an exciting development. They solve the problem of low input, save space and still produce the goods. With smaller gardens that's ideal.

  • Start by filling bin to the top,
  • Aim to keep it full,
  • Choose a larger size container only if you can keep it full, the contents reduce quickly,
  • Easy to add relatively small amounts of organic matter. No need to store before adding to heap,
  • Smaller 12 CuFt bins can be kept full with a small steady input,
  • Break, cut, or shred tough material before adding, especially the browns,
  • Shred and spreadthe shrinking heap to fill wall to wall and avoid large air spaces. Finer material helps retain heat and moisture, Check List continues after design details of 4 recommended garden bins

Cone Bin or Converter

Without a doubt this is perhaps the simplest and one of the best small containers for recycling. Two sizes available.

The narrower upper section with tight lid recycles moisture internally. The material quickly reduces in volume so it won't be full for long. As it shrinks spread it out to ensure it fills the wider cross-section lower down.

The one-piece compost bin is easily lifted off the heap whole to move to a new location. You can easily turn the heap by repositioning the container beside the heap and spading the material back into it again.

Mine provides moist black stuff thick with worms and a faint earthy smell - LOVELY the picture above doesn't do it justice. The Cone Bin stands 40" (1 m) high, 32" diameter and holds 12cuft.

Quick way to dispose compost
there's more inside

My Compost Converted

Compost Converter U.K. Gardeners can find the Converter and a good website along with other accessories all on the above link
 << or click this image. 

Note: an additional Converter Base Plate is available for mounting on solid surfaces or to prevent vermin entry. The removable bottom door provides easy access to finished product - and it's all free.

   -    Earth-Maker Aerobic Converter   -   

I saw this one displayed at the Garden Organic in Ryton, Coventry. Its design takes full advantage of moulded plastic.

A removable upper shelf retains material for an initial stage of rapid hot decomposition. Slide the shelf back to let the material down the middle section where decomposition continues. Finally use a rod to push the material down to the bottom to mature.

By this system the organic matter that is at the same stage of decomposition gets hotter than would being mixed with older material. The system more or less prevents unfinished organic matter from mixing with completed garden compost.

It also gives the worms a clear run in the cooler lower section of the container.

The Easy Open Composter

Another 'down to earth' garden bin. This one simply snaps together. If you have arthritic fingers then you'll find the push button opening lid an improvement on the converter. Also the doors can be used as leaf collecting scoops.

Same rules apply - keep it full and the material spread wall to wall. Several doors provide plenty of access to the finished compost. At 30" square and 34" high this bin can hold 16 cubic feet of material.

The Pyramid Bin

A popular compost bin. This has a wider opening and added organic matter will be more spread  out. Periodically turn the outside of the heap to the inside and vice versa using a fork or aerator. It has an open base and an additional rodent screen can be obtained to thwart burrowing animals.

28" square 34" high. Comes as a flat pack with self assembly to make a bin advertised to contain 12 cu ft, but I make that 15CuFt.

Aerating Tools

2 things are important when aerating your heap - to break apart dense clumps, and to move the material that has been on the cooler outside to the hot centre.

Aerating tools have been designed specially for stirring up the heap. They do save you somewhat from getting your hands dirty. U.S.A. gardeners have a "deluxe version" - a

  • Aerate periodically. An aerating tool cuts and break lumps apart; or thrust a garden fork into the heap and lever it around,
  • Smaller volumes used in these garden containers give less prolonged or intense heat so keep adding new material and aerate periodically,
  • Formulated activators contain specific bacteria and nutrients for hot decomposition but are not essential,
  • Aim to mix green and brown matter equally - optionally, use nitrogen supplements:- comfrey, poultry manure, urine, dried blood,
  • Scatter a thin layer of finished compost over every 6 inches or so of new material. Suitable micro-organisms will grow throughout the heap,
  • Heat generated raises the temperature in the upper middle section of the bin - a narrower top section helps reduce heat loss,
  • Tight lid and plastic walls keep fresh material moist, conserve water vapour inside, and reduce losses by leaching. No messing with plastic sheets on windy days,
  • Pre-soak organic matter if it's really dry but avoid direct watering inside the composter,
  • Open base allows small animals e.g. worms, to digest the cool end. The finished stuff is moist, black, crumbly,
  • Often quoted completion times 4 to 6 weeks for ideal conditions e.g. shredded material, warmth, ideal moisture content, using activator etc...
  • After decomposition, another 3 months to meld should be given, perhaps in a seperate bin,
  • You garden bin can be set up almost anywhere and easily moved to a new location,
  • Plastic is very durable. No maintenance needed.

Click to read: About the Larger Traditional Timber Containers...

Timber Composter

Modular Timber Compost Container

Find more links about Recycling & Growing with Organic Matter below:

Types Of Garden
Help On Making &
Using Organic Matter
How To Recycle
Waist With Worms

Static Fast Through Converters


Drum & Tumblers


Traditional Large Heap Containers


Home For Garden Recycling


Decomposition In Progress - Hot & Cold


Materials You Can Recycle


Recycling Organic Matter In Many Ways


Mix Your Own for Seeds, Potting, Planting...


Horticultural & Proprietary Mixes


Make Best Use Of Organic Matter


Better Worm Bin Designs


Managing a Wormery

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By Michael E. J. Scott.
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