Gardener'S Supply Company Pyramid Composter

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A Great Way to Create Compost -- with the Deluxe Pyramid Composter

May 22, 2007 (Updated Dec 3, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:good size, self-watering feature, ventilation, sturdy 100% recycled plastic, hinged lid, side doors

Cons:needs assembly (took longer than expected)

The Bottom Line: I am an organic gardener, and this compost bin works well for me.


I have been looking for the “perfect” composter. At least perfect for me. I wanted a compact composter (low profile) that would more or less take care of itself. I also wanted easy access to the compost. The Deluxe Pyramid Composter from Gardener’s Supply seemed like the ideal solution for me.


Description

This compost bin has four sides and a lid but no bottom. The finished size is 28" square x 34" high. It holds 77 gallons (or 12 cubic feet). The four sides and lid are constructed from durable 100% recycled black plastic. Zinc plated hardware is included.

The lid is hinged so that it easily opens, yet won’t blow off in a wind. The hinges allow the lid to stand upright, but not to fall backward. A unique feature of this lid is the small pyramid atop it. This vented pyramid is a self-watering feature. When it rains, the rain trickles into the compost bin to keep the contents moist.

The side panels also contain vents to help oxygenate the compost without losing the heat that helps the materials inside the bin break down. The front and back panel each also have a door that slides up and down to allow access to the compost. The Gardener’s Supply name is embossed into each door.

Since this compost bin does not have a “floor”, I purchased a Rodent Screen to place on the bottom of the bin. This heavy-duty screen is designed to keep rodents out of the warm compost.


Location

The instructions do not state where in the yard to place the composter. Also, the instructions do not give any indication how the earth should be prepared. After reading some articles on composting, I decided to place this compost bin in a sunny area where rainfall could easily land on the pyramid lid to add moisture to the compost inside the container.

I dug up the area, pulling out roots and vegetable growth. Then I used a garden rake to flatten and level the ground. Since this composter does not have a bottom (it is open), I knew the sides of the compost bin would sink a bit into the earth I had loosened. This worked out well.


Assembly

“Assembles in minutes.” Did they pull someone off the assembly line to put together one of these and time them? Assembles in minutes?? It took two of us a bit over an hour to completely assemble this compost bin.

Instructions for assembly are included, complete with illustrated diagram. You need your own tools: a flathead screwdriver and a 3/8" socket wrench. (The instructions state that an adjustable wrench can be used, but the hardware is being installed in tight quarters. I definitely recommend using a 3/8" socket wrench.)

In bold lettering, it says “A second person is needed to help hold the panels upright during assembly.” Not only is another person needed to hold the panels, but it helps to have an extra hand when screwing the hardware into place. One of us wielded the screwdriver, and on the other side of the panel a person used the socket wrench to anchor the nut while the bolt was being turned.

There are not that many pieces involved: 2 vented side panels, 2 door panels, 2 doors, and the lid. All the hardware is provided (bolts, washers, nuts). However, placing the panels together is a challenge. The heavy-duty plastic pieces have pre-drilled holes, which is great. Aligning the panels so that the holes match becomes a wrestling match as the last panels are placed into position. I started assembling the composter right-side up, but at different stages of assembly, found it easier to insert the hardware by turning the composter upside down, and in one instance sideways. It helped not to tighten the bolts all the way until all the panels were in place.

It was definitely a challenge to position the lid atop the four side panels. The lid did not want to snap into position because the corners of the side panels were not in complete alignment. I finally loosened some screws, pushed at the plastic, and the lid popped into position. It opens and closes fine.


Creating Compost

The instructions also include a brief tutorial on making compost. Essentially the instructions say to use more carbon based material (dry leaves, straw, sawdust ... dry brown materials) and less nitrogen materials (fresh cut grass, fresh pulled weeds, over-ripe fruit and vegetables ... wet materials). The smaller the pieces, the more quickly they will break down into compost. It is also essential to keep the compost moist. The instructions suggest keeping it as moist as a well-wrung sponge. Since this composter is stationery, it is also important to turn the compost so that it has a constant supply of oxygen. (You can buy compost turners to make this an easier job.)

I started out by placing in the bottom of the composter some dried plant stalks leftover from last year’s garden. I broke them into small pieces to cover the Rodent Screen on the compost bin’s “floor”. Then I added some mulched leaves. I sprinkled two trowels of composted cow manure on top of that. Then I added more broken plant stalks and more mulched leaves. Even though fresh grass and weeds were sparse (very early Spring), I found some fresh greens to add. I sprinkled two trowels of dirt from the garden into the bin and topped it with more leaves. Then I poured two buckets of water over the contents. A day later, I mixed some cooled-down wood ash into the compost bin and added more water.

Over a period of six weeks, I kept the compost mixed and moist. I also added more fresh greens (grass and weeds) to help balance the mix of dried and wet materials. I read that a properly balanced mix of materials could produce compost as quick as four weeks. Well ... I obviously haven’t achieved the right balance of materials. However, I can see that the compost bin is gradually producing compost.


My Experiences

This is a great compost bin and has lived up to my “compost bin wish list”. I can’t say enough good things about it. My only grumble is about the struggle to assemble it.

The sturdy plastic sides and lid have withstood some stiff winds. The lid never blows off. It easily opens and closes with a snug fit that is not too tight. I also like the mini-pyramid atop it. The self-watering system is great. Of course, this only works with timely rain showers. When it doesn’t rain, I sprinkle water into the bin.

The side vents in the panels offer air flow without losing the heat inside the bin. I aerate the materials inside using whatever garden tool I have at hand. I have used a rake, a shovel and even a compost aerator. It’s important to keep the compost “fluffed” so that the oxygen can help break down the materials.

When I aerate the materials inside the bin, I make sure not to dig into the bottom. That’s where the Rodent Screen is located. If you opt not to purchase a Rodent Screen, the bottom of the bin will be whatever ground you set it on.

One concern was the slits all over the bin that offer air flow. I had feared that maybe bees would consider the compost bin a big hive and build inside it. Not a single stinging insect has shown interest in the bin. A good thing!

The sliding doors at the front and back are terrific. I can slide the doors open to place a shovel inside to remove the compost. One of the doors sticks a bit but moves up and down with some wiggling back and forth. I decided at the time of assembly to make this door the “back door”, and use the easier to open door as the one in front.

This bin is a good size, too. I am tall and can easily reach into the bin to mix the contents. It doesn’t take up much space, either. My brother, who is not one to comment on compost bins, even said the bin was stylish.

When I turned the materials in the bin during week #2, I was delighted to see the biggest, fattest worm that I have ever seen. It obviously found its way into the bin and decided it was a good home!


Purchasing

Gardener’s Supply sells this compost bin for $139.00 dollars. There is also an extra $10.00 shipping fee. However, hunt around for discount coupons. I paid $125.35 (including shipping) with one.


Update -- December 3, 2007

I still have more to learn about composting, but this composter is working very well. The material I put in did breakdown into rich compost. It took most of the growing season because my ratio of dry material to green material was off. The composter is loaded up again, and I can't wait for my next batch.


Summary

I am extremely pleased with this compost bin. It offers everything that I wanted in a composter. I’m expecting that this sturdy bin will last for years and years. It feels good to create my own compost, which enriches my large vegetable garden.

I hope you found this review useful.

Enjoy the day,
Dawn
http://dlstewart.com


Please read my other reviews:

Rodent Screen for compost bin

Droll Yankee Flipper Bird Feeder -- squirrel proof

The Garden Claw

Craftsman Long-Handled Weed Digger

Garden Weasel Cultivator/Weeder

Craftsman Long-Handled Round-Point Shovel

Fiskars Power-Lever Bypass Lopper

Upside-Down Tomato Garden

Earth Box Garden

Rubbermaid Big Max Storage Shed

Black & Decker Cordless Battery Mulching Lawnmower


Copyright 2007 Dawn L. Stewart


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