Brand: Aerobin. Model: 400 Composting System. Rating: 4 / 5 ✭✭✭✭✩
Likes: Easy to assemble. Comparatively little maintenance required in comparison to other composting systems. Makes good quality compost relatively quickly (depends very much on what materials go into it). Design eliminated the need to turn the compost, which is good for lazy gardeners! Is easier to make good compost for beginners.
Dislikes: Construction materials could be sturdier (claims to its durability have been over stated in my experience). The draining spigot is too close to the ground – the bin should be assembled on a raised platform, like a few large-format pavers, to aid draining liquid. It’s exorbitant price tag.
Overview: When it comes to home composting there now many options to choose from. The Aerobin 400 compost bin is certainly one of the more pricey options but you do get more bang for your composting buck. Firstly, the capacity of the bin is much larger than other systems at a whopping 400 Litres. This means that for the average suburban block, one bin is probably all you need. It is designed to be maintained as a hot composting system, meaning that the turnarounds between the production of useable compost are comparatively faster and easier than other bins. Claims to the Aerobin’s ability to make ‘better’ compost should be treated with a healthy amount of scepticism. With apologies to Gertrude Jekyll, compost is compost is compost.
Features: One of the keys to the Aerobin’s effectiveness is grandiloquently referred to in the literature as a ‘lung’. It is essentially a segmented pipe that runs from the bottom chamber of the bin right through to the top, encouraging aerobic conditions inside the bin while discouraging the formation smelly, wet compost. It is also insulated with polystyrene, which helps to keep the heat inside the bin over the cooler months. It also has a reservoir at the base of it to collect the leachate formed in the composting process. Finally, two large doors are located at the base of the bin for easy removal of compost. The doors are large enough for easy access with a spade when it comes time to harvest your precious, black gold.
Used by whom and where: Owing to an unexpectedly large tax refund in my student days I was able to purchase the bin and have been using it for almost four years. It works well if, like me, you don’t enjoy manually turning compost bins. I live on a pretty small suburban block in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne and it easily handles all the materials I put into it. When I purchased the bin I was renting a house with a kikuyu lawn, so lawn clippings were heaped into the bin on a weekly basis in the summer time. Each week I would fill the bin to capacity and each week the materials would cook down enough to fit the next load in – no turning required.
Performance: Within the first couple of months a bit of trial and error was necessary to become familiar with what the bin required to work properly. It is by no means a chuck-anything-in-and-forget compost bin. A proper balance of brown and green ingredients needs to be added in order to have it work properly. When I had an abundance of lawn clippings the system became too wet very easily, so careful attention was needed to ensure the conditions in the bin didn’t become anaerobic. This was achieved with the addition of large amounts of dry ingredients such as raked up leaves, dry twigs and the odd bit of newspaper here and there. The ratio of green to brown ingredients I have found work well are a little more than half green to every dry part, so between 2:1 and 3:1. Thankfully, the house I’m now paying off came complete with two medium deciduous trees and a grape vine-covered pergola, which provide me with almost enough brown matter to last me all year. The leaves and grape vine canes live in bags in the shed and are added to the bin when necessary.
A note on the leachate reservoir at the bin’s base: I’ve never experienced the bin to produce any liquid in great quantities. Which is a good thing because the spigot used to harvest the liquid is impossibly low to the ground, so much so that I imagine collecting the liquid would require a McGiver-like ingenuity to get at it. Compost tea, as I’ve previously written about on GardenDrum, is not all it is purported to be, so I’m not put out by my bin’s lack of leachate.
While the design of the bin is groundbreaking as far as compost bins go, I feel the design could be a little tighter. There are many nooks and crannies in the frame that spiders like to take up residence in, not least of which are the handles on lid. I always make sure I use gloves when dealing with the bin to ensure I don’t get nipped by an errant arachnid.
On a final note, the bin is not vermin proof. I found this out the hard way when a pair of mice took up residence in the bin and soon burgeoned into an extended family. The solution I came up with was to drill small holes in the leachate reservoir and block up the spigot hole completely. Sacrificing leachate for vermin-proofing, for me, was a small sacrifice to make. This problem can also be avoided by mounting the bin on a hard surface, such as pavers or concrete.
Dimensions: 740mm x 740mm x 1200mm when assembled
Patented ‘lung’ inside the bin eliminates the need for turning the contents.
Where to buy:
Many online retailers sell the bin, as well as most garden centres and nurseries.
Price guide: $350 – $380 RRP