THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Plastic ‘dalek’ compost bins. Peppered through the gardens in our country as a free gift from the councils. My guess is they gave out these bins because they wanted people to compost more, saving them money as they would have to take away less garden waste.
Thinking to be applauded, right?
But is there a design flaw in them and has it put people off making their own compost?
The Great Reviews For A ‘Dalek’ Compost Bin
Here is the one I mean…
The ‘Dalek’ bin. They call it a compost converter online. It is made from recycled plastic, so that is good. Can it be recycled when yo have finished with it? It doesn’t say, I will have to look that up.
It is getting great reviews on Amazon from people. Though when they break it seems people just throw them away or if the lid gets bent that seems to be the end of it, according to the first few reviews I read. So that plastic probably does end up back in landfill, though it has had a second life.
Many people are also buying it because council rates for removing green waste have gone up. But I’m sure what they really mean is ‘I’m doing this because the environment matters, as does the footprint I leave on this earth, so sure, financially I will be better off because the council won’t charge me as much, but mostly I want to help the planet by recycling my waste….’
That is what they are saying, right?
I wonder how many of these reviews are written after the first week, or few days of receiving it. When it gets filled up quickly and it seems you are making progress. Then 6 months later when the fruit flies buzz around the top whenever you open it to place more peelings inside, or the ammonia smell from the bottom when your sludgy grass clippings are still not properly composted when you open the hatch to check, who is leaving reviews then about how well it works?
No-one, by the look of it. (Note – I have barely looked…. I can barely conceal my contempt, can I? Yikes!)
Why The ‘Dalek’ Bin Is Not So Good
The reviews that say it is not so useful (not looking at the ones where people have complained it has not arrived on time, or with all the pieces) are saying that the shape is not very useful or easy to get material into or out of it, that the plastic of the bin does not retain heat and that four pieces of wood nailed or strung together would probably do a better job of making compost.
But for me, it is:
- Not big enough.
- Doesn’t let the rain in, so your compost can dry out.
- The plastic is not breathable, so no air gets through. I like oxygen in my heap.
- The hatch seems too small to get compost out.
- If you only need a spoonful of compost every year, then this is probably perfect. But I need more. More I tell you! More!
- I think a big bit of plastic sat in your garden looks rubbish. I mean, so does a Heath Robinson effect compost heap of recycled pallets, but at least they make the compost you need at the end of it.
I want my compost heaps to look more like this….
Or, and oh my god this is fun, what about this….!
Cor! Yeah! Now we are talking about compost…!
What I don’t want is something like this at the bottom of the garden…
What I Would Do With My Dalek Compost Bin
If I already had a compost bin shaped like a Dalek, I would keep it and use it. It can be a little additional heap for something, perhaps. You can never have enough compost after all.
But I would concentrate on making wooden bins, wider and deeper than the dalek ones. I would keep these heaps warm and wet. That is the key for me. The plastic
‘dalek’ bin (sorry – compost converter!) would sit alongside these useful bins full of life, quietly reminding me why I chose to make my own out of wood, and give up that bit of extra space in the garden to make compost properly. Even if it was a small garden.
Compost is your life force. It improves your soil, makes you a better gardener and when used on the beds helps to lower your carbon footprint.
Plus a decent compost heap brings creatures like this slow worm to your garden….
These legless lizards (they are not drunk, they are just without these lower limbs) are brilliant at getting rid of slugs in your garden. Compost heap by the hostas, perhaps?
Dalek compost bins are rubbish. I’m making the call. Make your own compost in a proper bin and do your bit for a better garden.
(And if you want to do your bit for the planet, switch to a green energy supplier. Details here!)
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …
Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …
Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …