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Composting confessions and a solution

Composting … I know it’s the “right thing to do”. I know it saves money. I know it would be great for my plants … bla bla bla.

So I ordered a compost bin. When it arrived it was one of those that needs to be ‘planted’ in the garden and couldn’t just be put in the space I’d specifically allocated for it, being in a concrete alley way down the side of the house where the trash bin lives (and a few other things). I didn’t want to ‘plant’ a plastic green container in my garden. Sorry, but it doesn’t fit in with my gardening plan. I don’t consider an upside down plastic green thingy-amy-bin an appropriate garden feature. And I have no hidden places in the garden – with my penchant for impulse buying of plants, every nook and cranny in my garden is reserved for something pretty … so out with the unused green plastic monstrosity!

But I am still “into” the idea of composting. We have been collecting the leaves and debris from gutters etc (branches and twigs from the trees are used as kindling for our indoor fireplaces so there is never any surplus of those) but we now have 8 11 large green bags in the alley way full of leaves in various stages of ‘mulchiness’. But still no real compost solution here at Number 13! Egg shells and greens from the kitchen are still going to waste here. Not good …

What I wanted is an easy solution for adding and mixing compost. I did lots of research and came to the conclusion that a free standing bin or box is not a good idea for me – I honestly don’t have the time, inclination or strength to mix compost myself on a regular basis and the result would be a neglected compost heap and resultant mess! I like working with dirt in the garden – my hands can take it, but climbing into a pile of it and turning it with a fork on a regular basis … well I just know thats not going to happen. Compost mixers (with handles that you crank) looked like a solution but I’ve never found one here. Until I discovered the Compost Mixer by Keter online.

So I bought one on Saturday! It was darn pricey, a whole lot more than I ever intended to pay for such a thing but it looks great and ticks all my requirements. It is well constructed, very sturdy and offers a number of other benefits and I believe that given the quality of this compost mixer it will last a very long time. I can stand it in the alley way – in fact, it is a requirement that it stands on a sturdy, level surface in the sun – and I have the perfect full sun position for it right in the alley. I really think this is the right composting solution for me.

[one_half]The mounting bags of leavesLeaf mulch[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Vacant spot perfect for my new compost mixerThe Perfect spot![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Its a VERY large box!A big box![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Complete with instuctions etc.The Compost Mixer[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Compost Mixer by Keter (photo © Keter)Keter Composter[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Compost Mixer by Keter (photo © Keter)Keter Composter[/one_half_last]

Some of the features & benefits of it are:

  • Innovative gear allows effortless tumbling even with a full load
  • Extra large mixing fins for faster decomposition (increases compost cycles per season)
  • Controlled ventilation improves composting
  • Positive locking latch secures door closed
  • You can collect compost tea via the drippy thingy
  • You get a load of compost about every 8 – 12 weeks (depending on the season and what you put in there of course).
  • It holds 230 litres or 60 gallons at a time

Right now I’m sitting with the instruction book and it looks rather intimidating to me – I think I need some help with it. There are scary warnings that say “incorrect use can lead to death …” Yikes! Hows that for a warning? I will take photographs of the whole process and do a post on the set up of my new composter and show it in action over the next few months. Hopefully it does exactly what it promises. Then I will finally be able to do a post entiled “Admissions of an ardent composter”, or something similar 🙂 🙂

Please note that this is not a product endorsement or some sort of paid review. In fact, when I enquired via their website about where to purchase one of these in South Africa, I received such a curt response that I almost didn’t want to purchase it. In this instance the actual product sold me, certainly not their PR! #Just so you know!

Easy-go gardening cartNext on my “wish list”:

Can you believe I don’t have a wheel barrow? Seriously … I lug everything around by hand. And its very tedious. So this is a little hint for my family that may or may not read this! For my next birthday I would LOVE one of these – its also by Keter, its call an Easy Go gardening cart and it looks perfect for me! I would be so, so happy to get one of these!

Features include that it is a lightweight, heavy-duty work wagon that allows you to load and move heavy loads “with the greatest of ease”, its multipurpose use is ideal for garage, basement, recycling, and yard maintenance and it won’t rust, dent, stain, or peel which is great, so I can leave it outside overnight – which I often do with gardening tools and things when I don’t feel like packing up after gardening! I’d also love one of these … its called a “Planteo“, it’s like a little green house! Maybe one day … Right now I first have to get the composter out the box and set up before I start thinking about more things!

Happy Gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

35 replies on “Composting confessions and a solution”

I think your composter looks like a piece of garden furniture that blends in very well with the rest of its surroundings. It is very costly here. I compost kitchen waste on a small scale using big flower pots. I am also living without a wheelbarrow because I have no place to store it.

Hi Autumn Belle – The composter was costly here too – I bought it out of guilt – I feel guilty not “composting” waste and all our leaves etc. I’m hoping it will pay for itself in time because I spend a lot on buying compost. Hopefully this reduces that spend.

We have the unsightly green thingy, which takes forever to fill with kitchen waste. Eventually, I roughly sieve and put the chunks back for a second go.

We also have heaps of cuttings waiting to be shredded.

I wanted a wheelbarrow, after Camps Bay where we couldn’t, 45 degree slope ;~) And now we have a wheelbarrow but it does his DIY, somehow I don’t use it.

I have one of those pricey compost tumblers….not much compost from it…I had more luck with a big pile at the old house…of course mine is mostly in shade so I need to tarp it or something…good luck with it and I hope it works for you…

So far so good! Its actually producing – the stuff inside is going black! Can you move yours to a sunnier position? That would probably do the trick.

Sometimes it is hard to find the right composting method or bin for our specific needs, but it seems as if you found it. I like how you list all the features…it sounds great! Good luck!

Christine, I see why you needed a compost “unit”. I think the best way to compost is to just make a pile in an unused spot (none at your house) and add to it in layers, turning maybe three times a year. I have a huge stone manure pit that I use for this. Actually my next post is on composting so you will see it. I think a well built metal wheelbarrow with wood handles in the traditional style is best. I have used mine for almost thirty years. We had the Rubbermaid model and hated it, and I wouldn’t want to lift things out of the one you were thinking about. Being able to dump is key. Carolyn

Hi Carolyn, I really appreciate the advice about the barrow – saves me making another uninformed purchase!! I am getting the feeling that a good old-fashioned wheel barrow is what I need! looking forward to your composting post. I learn from you all the time.

Christine, I went without a wheelbarrow for years. And then, when I finally got one and realized how many tasks were now so much easier(!), I wondered what had taken me so long. I hope your family takes the hint.

You made me chuckle with this one, but you put a bug in my ear re: composting. We have a huge and sadly neglected compost area. Like you, we are not about to get in there and turn it over, so it takes forever to do anything. This thing, or something similar, would be ideal for us too.

Re the gardening tote you wanted to use as a wheelbarrow, I had one almost identical and I gave it away to someone I don’t like. 😉 HATED it. You have to lift things in and out — you can’t easily dump them. What I got instead, that I LOVE, is a Rubbermaid Rough Rider Lawn Cart. It’s a plastic wheelbarrow that is lightweight, easy to use, and even has a place to put garden tools AND a cup holder.

You can see one here:

What makes this one so appealing to me is that it does not tip over easily, it carries the load low, so ergonomically, it’s easy to move, and you can dump it and direct where you want stuff to go. It hoses down for cleaning, and it’s almost indestructible. You might want to see if you can find one on-line from a company that can ship to your country. (Or find something similar.)

I have been to see the Rubbermaid and it looks ideal. I see all your points with the Easy Go and I agree that if you have a tool for the garden, it must make your life easier and it must be pratical. So, I’ll hold onto my wallet until we find something more suitable for Christine! Thanks for the advice!

Maybe a good old-fashioned wheel barrow is what I need? There must be a reason they have stood the text of time, i.e. “klutz-proof”. hehe!

Just love your compost tumbler and it was a breeze to set up! All those “death” warnings were funny, though!! Dexter was also ensuring that we weren’t swallowed up by the bin! Have fun with it and take note when you harvest your fresh, yummy, gorgeous, home-grown compost! I’m jealous! OH YES!! I’ve seen these nifty easy go thingies!!! When I find one I’ll buy you one! 🙂

I am looking forward to the follow-up post on your new composter! I have the more traditional one similar to the one you first rejected, and, yes, it wasn’t easy finding just the right spot for it. I really like the way yours turns. I hardly ever get around to stirring my compost.

Hi Deb – the best news is that after we set it up today (took half an hour) then filled it (took 5 minutes) the handle which turns the compost is super easy, its tempting to stand and turn it furn a lot longer than is neccessary! I’m so thrilled with this purchase!

The compost mixer looks a great idea! I absolutely dread composting, its just so darn boring! Id rather be weeding! and thats really saying something! I think ill try and find a supplier near me. Thanks for the info and post!

I have a green plastic thingy, hidden behind a brick wall, so really only I know it’s there. I don’t really turn it, though, I just layer it as I put things in and wait about a year. The waiting about a year is one reason I would love to have a turning composter like you’ve now got. I will be waiting for the reviews to see if I really want to spend $$ on something like that.

BTW – I have one of those garden carts, and I like my metal red lawn cart much better. The one shown is how I hurt my leg trying to cart concrete blocks. My red cart has a ‘stop’ so it doesn’t come crashing down on my legs. (You may not be a klutz like I.)

Hi Holley – So far I am very impressed with the compost mixer – set it up today, added leaves and stuff – its super easy to turn! Seriously no effort required. I will take photos and show it and do review once I get my first yield from it. Should be interesting to see how long it takes.

Thanks for telling me about the garden cart – I am a huge klutz, so perhaps its not the best option for me after all. Thanks for the tip!

Hi Alan – a sign of the times here in South Africa we all have 6 foot walls and electric fences around our properties, so no, no chance of anyone stealing it. Plus – they’d have to get past Dexter (my Dog!). It was very easy to set up which Barbie helped me with today, so I’m now offically a “composter”:)

I am with you. Having them in a pretty garden is not so good. Mine happen to be right out in the open, and wish I had a better place for them. This year I got loads of usable compost from them, so they are still sitting where everyone can see them. I try to be careful with my photos to ‘hide’ them from view. I like that turning model you pictured. But where to put it… I hate turning the compost over all the time, but if I don’t do it, it will never get composted.

I actually don’t mind those open compost piles in a garden because that is something natural that can blend into the landscape – its having a plastic thing I was most against. But the open or box composting would just not work for me because I won’t “turn” it regularly – I know myself too well 🙂

Christine – I also want one LOL

I have a green thingy in my garden and, yes, it is hectic trying to turn the compost. In fact, it’s getting to be more than I can handle

Thanks for the info – I’ll definitely be checking it out 🙂

LOL! I know exactly what you mean. I’d far rather be doing something else than turning compost with a fork! We just set this up and it was easy, looks ok and its a breeze to turn it! I’m SO happy with it. (but it was expensive unfortunately).

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