Trying a different compost bin design (updated 05 September 2019)

For many years we made compost in a New Zealand bin system with good results. At the previous garden there were four, one metre qube bins made from scaffold planks. Each bin had a slatted front and a separate waterproof lid.

Now we have a smaller garden we have a three section NZ bin system, again, each section one metre cube. The first two batches of compost were OK but not as good as expected. The compost heated up initially and then cooled quickly. Turning the contents produced a second heating which did not last long.

On some US sites the favourite style of ‘bin’ is made from chicken wire or steel mesh. I decided to try a hybrid design and have a mesh front to the bins. This should increase the ventilation and produce better compost.

After 18 hours of filling the bin the core temperature was 56C. This is a good start but I am concerned about the open front cooling to contents and causing them to dry out resulting in uneven composting Time will tell, more updates in a few days.

Update – 1 week after filling

The temperature had slowly fallen back so I decided to turn the heap. It was still hot and steaming but there was some material around the sides and on the top that had not composted. That is nothing new and I mixed all the contents and refilled the bin.

I hope to see a rise in temperature again over the next few days to maybe 80% of the original.

Update 05 September 2019
I was concerned that the mesh front would dry out the content. That is what happened. The temperatures were also lower. I don not plan to continue the trial and will replace the mesh fronts with slats.

The next test is to install a raised wooden floor. This should allow and increased airflow which might help prolong the first heating stage.