The Bin Man Cometh


I think it was last week that I mentioned that my eldest son had agreed to help me sort out the compost bin chaos out with some new bins.  True to his word when I got home at lunchtime on Saturday from the Hardy Plant Society meeting he had started work on transforming the disaster zone that is my composting area.

Luckily we have access to a supply of pallets so he had managed to bring home 6 in his Defender which is a good start.  The biggest issue we have is the slope of the garden which is most pronounced at the top of the garden where the bins live (you can see the angle from the angle of the fence).  So he had spent some time levelling off (sort of) the area where the new bin was to go.


The advantage of the new bin, apart from its vastness, is that you empty it from the front.  The current purpose-built purchased ones are in fact hopelessly useless.  The bins are constructed from planks of wood that you build up layer on layer so if you want to empty them properly you have to dismantle the whole thing.  In addition due to the slope of the ground etc I actually stand almost level with the top of the bins so I have to dig down into them or alternatively stand in them to empty them which means they don’t get empty and then the actual bins rot which is where we are now.

The first bin has been built and the content of one of the remaining bins has been moved into it (the pile to the left of the new bin in the photo above) and there is still heaps of space.


The front has been added and is secured with rope.  I will be able to store canes in the side of the bin which is a bonus.  There is now a second smaller bin in which the wheelbarrow is currently living as the bin isn’t complete. – they are a bit like Little and Large.   We ran out of large pallets and space so the second bin will be a long thin bin once we have acquired some more pallets, again front opening.  Then, with yet more pallets we are going to build some sort of log store to go under the willow to the right of the new bin.  This I suspect will be more designed as I think my son is talking about breaking pallets up  to create something with good airflow so the logs dry out properly (he uses them for wood-turning) but anything will be a definite improvement on the rickety construction that I generally try to avoid showing in photos.

So the compost bin area is getting serious and hopefully by Christmas it will all be neat and tidy and ready for next year.  I may even paint the bins to match the shed, for some reason this made my youngest laugh!

22 Comments on “The Bin Man Cometh

    • Hi Helen
      it is strange the things that make us happy!

  1. My lovely OH built me a double compost bin, with removable slats in the front. I make extremely good compost in them. Coincidentally it was moved today, along with my shed, to a new place on my allotment. I mentioned to the guys who moved it that I was going to paint it the same colour as the shed. They laughed too!

    • Hi Jacqueline
      obviously these chaps don’t appreciate the need for things to be aesthetically pleasing!

  2. Always wanted to make one of those out of pallets but got put-off when read somewhere that we’re supposed to check for some strange symbols on the pallets if using them for organic matter? Can’t remember precisely – some are heat-treated (thinking these are okay) but some have noxious chemical preservatives that leach into the compost and contaminate soil. May have been a US blog so might not apply over here, not 100% sure though.

  3. Our bought one (a dalek from the local council) was all right, but that was for a very small garden so a high ratio of kitchen waste. For a bigger garden and leafier, woodier material this looks much better. I’m a big fan of making things out of pallet wood anyway, so I like the look it on that basis too! (We had to leave my pallet-wood tomato support at the old house, because the exposed nails were a bit too dangerous to transport….)

    The front is secured with a rope, but what holds the back together? Are just nails from one pallet into another enough to keep its shape?

    • Hi J-p
      The back is held together with screws. My son is a cabinet maker so this was easy for him to throw together

  4. For three years I’ve been putting a ladder against the side of ours and climbing in over the top.. I’ve only just realised that the front is removable..

  5. We have two black covered bins (rats can’t get into them) and add a few composting worms -a really stinky liquid seaweed etc etc one and two worm farms. Also chuck thin grass clippings and coffee grounds directly onto clay. Compost – compost – compost for any type of soil!!! I used to fill up a hole in garden or where I had volcanic with peelings etc but when I saw a huge rat running out of it gave that system up!!

    • Hi Yvonne
      We had rats when we first moved here, I hate them. I moved the plastic compost bin onto paving slabs which discouraged them but they moved next door and used to play on my lawn – yuk. Anyway, since we got the cat we haven’t seen any!

  6. What a good job you didn’t paint the shed in your original colour scheme, was it orange and black?
    It can be useful Helen, to line the sides of pallet bins with permeable membrane to stop the smaller stuff falling out and it heats up quicker.

  7. How lovely to have such a handy son. I have to admit we got our compost bins made for us by a young gardener we know. They are front opening by removing slats so he knew what he was doing. As they are under our big Beech tree we didn’t want anything going below the ground to damage the roots, so they are tending to skew a bit, but they do the job. I don’t put kitchen waste, apart from a few veg peelings on the compost as I would hate to see a rat. I freaked out enough when I disturbed a nest of mice once when I was attempting to turn the compost. I thought they were frogs at first as they jumped so high!

  8. Looks like a very professional compost set up! I have one of those black bins from the council, but I find that really hard to empty. We also inherited a ‘tumbler’ bin from the previous owners of our house. I’d love a better system as I end up sending most of my garden rubbish to the tip in the green bin that the dustmen collect every week. At least it goes to make bulk compost!

  9. I’ve been going on about a compost bin for ages and funnily enough we have a few unwanted pallets hanging around that we were going to get rid of. A project for next weekend perhaps 🙂

  10. Yahay – a pallet project!! Great team work and wonderful to now have an empty compost bay to start filling up…one of my jobs will shortly have to be emptying the 2014 compost ready for 2016s… Emptying it and then spreading or bagging it…sigh 😦

  11. We had some of those purpose-made wooden ones that stack up too. They were useless. I always ended up just turning and emptying compost from the top, without dismantling them, because the wood swelled and wouldn’t come apart without breaking.

    • Hi Matt
      It makes you wonder if the people who design these things actually use them

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