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Ive got a 6*4 space empty behind my garage which doesnt get much sunlight and is secluded from my house. I was wondering if I can use it for composting? can composting affect the garage wall( brick wall)?

Or would it be a better idea to do it in a container?

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    Is that 6 feet by 4 feet? Meters?
    – MackM
    Jun 2, 2023 at 17:17
  • You might find covering the pile with dry leaves, sawdust or - best of all - wood ash - reduces the amount of insects attracted to it.
    – Vorac
    Jun 5, 2023 at 10:55

2 Answers 2

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Composting has become a fine art these days and most online composting 'fanatics' are tending towards a 3 bed compartmentalised method where you acquire a load of wooden pallets and position them, one pallet width apart. Ideally though, the top of the build should be covered either by a hinged lid or a tarpaulin.

3 bay composting

The principle is that you put whatever you have to compost in the left hand side until it is full and let it compost down to about half the original. Since ideally it needs to be 'turned' at some point, you then turn it into the middle bay so it composts more, releasing the left hand bay for newer material. Effectively the middle bin will take all of the left hand bin twice over. In time,you then turn the middle bay and put it in the right hand bay wherein it is regarded as 'ready for use'.

This works well enough if you have incredible amounts of organic material needing composting but it is perfectly possible to scale this back to get smaller compartments or even reduce it down to 2.

Either way, it makes sense to keep the pile off any walls since it allows more air to get to the pile and since piles are moist to wet, they most certainly would begin to saturate your garage wall, leading to damp inside the garage.

The location you suggest however is ideal since it will be cool and damp and away from the sun and so, depending upon the volumes of organic material you will be adding you might also choose to opt for other alternatives.

The amount of composting I need in my garden is very low and my local council here in the UK have been selling recycled plastic dome type compost bins at a discount. In the big box stores they sell for about £35 ($45) but the council sold me two for just £10 each ($12). I now only ever put invasive weeds in my council organic waste collection wheelie-bin and put everything in the plastic dome affair. What I have however discovered is that it offers insufficient ventilation and I have drilled extra holes in the plastic to improve matters. And since it has a lid, I have to water it in with a few watering cans of rainwater occasionally. So far, 12 months into the trial, I have not yet seen adequate compost so I am not so far impressed. That said, I also have a few worm bins that are far more productive.

Another alternative would be to get a tumbling compost bin and whilst they have been demonstrated to be very efficient in producing compost marginally faster there is a cost of buying the device and also having to turn the drum regularly.

Rotating Composter

Bear in mind that whatever you do, the compost heap will provide you with an excellent source of decomposed organic material almost free of cost for the next season, though some hard work will be needed to ensure whatever system you choose performs to expectations.

You have to consider also that there is a risk of attracting vermin, though they are routinely present in all areas of a large garden anyway and a well designed composting system can always to build in some deterrent factors.

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  • A more sensible "3 bin" setup would not use the same size bins, since compost shrinks drastically.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 2, 2023 at 17:02
  • I tend to agree with you but every YT video I have seen runs with the 3 equal bays with that sequencing for some reason and this is true on a well researched community garden project. it would certainly be overkill for me for sure. I guess they work on turning the first bay into the second as soon as it reaches half the size or maybe even sooner.
    – Nikki
    Jun 2, 2023 at 23:56
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    Often there appears to be a lot of "copy something else without thinking" going on, especially in YT videos. 7 bins would be about right if you had a lot of material and wanted equal-size bins (4 going into 2, going into 1) but when you have a lot of material bins become non-optimal.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 3, 2023 at 0:04
  • I think the benefit of three equally sized bins is that you can use any bin for any stage of the process, and don't need to move everything from one bin to another unless you feel like it.
    – MackM
    Jun 4, 2023 at 18:28
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You can definitely use that space for composting, but I would keep the compost off of the brick wall. You could use a water impermeable layer in between the compost and the wall, or even better leave an air gap

The compost can leach acidic water through the brick that will attack the structure. It would also provide a habitat for pests immediately against your garage- this may or may not be a problem depending on how you use the garage.

You do not need a container for your compost unless it helps fit it in in the space you have. Compost piles generally need to reach about a meter in every dimension to compost at full speed. If your area is 6 meters x 4 meters then you have plenty of room for a pile without a container.

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