Choosing The Right Type Of Composting Box


Throughout the winter I’ve been looking out the window watching the soil in my raised beds shrink more and more into the ground. Maybe it’s because a lot of horse manure and straw were mixed in last year and are now compacted, or maybe it’s because a big part of the soil has been converted into vegetables which then have been removed and carried inside to the kitchen table, thereby removing mass from the beds, I don’t know. But it looks rather silly with a raised bed missing all the soil above ground level. Only the wooden frame is left. It will soon be time for the frost to leave the soil and time for digging. I’ve already built two raised beds with wooden frames and I’m planning on building three more large ones this spring. I’m going to need soil for all of this, more specifically 6 cubic metres, but I’m a bit picky about what I put into my garden. Who knows what chemicals might be present in the soil you buy in big quantities from a gravel pit. Soil in these quantities are awfully expensive from nurseries. What I would really like to do is to make my own from compost. This way I know exactly what goes into my beds and vegetables.
I have already got three composting boxes each about 1 cubic meter with two of them full, but for this to work out I have realized that I need better boxes. At first I was very delighted with the ones I have now, since they have several advantages:

  • Low weight
  • Easy to assemble
  • Low cost
  • Looks great

That’s all very good – if you put in your organic garden waste and leave it alone for the next ten years, kinda like a local disposal site.
But that’s not what I want to do. I want to be able to begin taking some compost out from the bottom and see what’s going on. Maybe some of it is ready to be put into the raised beds or maybe it needs to take another round in one of the other boxes and wait another year. Maybe the whole heap needs to be turned and mixed with more highly reactive ingredients.
But this is not possible with this kind of construction. If you want to recycle your organic matter in the form of compost in your garden, you’ll need a more flexible construction, which you can open in the front in an easy way. The ones below are better suited for the process of using compost in the garden:

Photo by Collin Anderson.

The type of box you hammer together (in the first picture) is more static by design, which is fine if you just want to temporarily get rid of grass clippings and leaves, and then once every ten years or so drive the whole pile away and start all over. It sure is capable of eating a lot of waste but it’s hopeless if you want to work that waste into usable compost for your kitchen garden.

Are you making your own compost or would you like to try it? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts, questions or experiences.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

4 thoughts on “Choosing The Right Type Of Composting Box

  1. Thank you for this very useful info about composting boxes. I’ve been thinking of trying composting with manure and composting worms, and I’ve always thought that it’ll not be a good idea to use a composting box but thanks to your post, I’m now sure what type of box I’ll need.

  2. Tom,
    Good afternoon. I am interested to know whether you have Collin Anderson’s contact information or a couple of compost pictures I can use as outreach materials.
    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Janice

  3. @Janice: I found the picture here: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ under the Attribution License, which means I have to link back when I use his picture. Maybe you could use it the same way.

    This is where I learned about the license:
    http://www.skelliewag.org/a-complete-guide-to-finding-and-using-incredible-flickr-images-162.htm

    You can use the compost pictures from my blog too, but it would be nice if you would mention my blog as source.

    Hope you find something you can use!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.