This compost container is practically maintenance free, apart from the lid that is worn out after some years — though it is still working after five years. It keeps warm in the winter, so the worms flourish even then. It is simple to build and rebuild, since no mortar is used. It has no vulnerable wickets, hinges or other contraptions.
A practically maintenance free compost container made of LECA-stones
The container, situated in the garden of our home in Lund , are made from LECA-stones of the size 19*29*59 cm. They were donated by LECA AB in Veberöd. The bottom is covered with thinner LECA-stones to deter rats and mice. The stones are of the sandwich-type with styrofoam inside. This allows the worms that live in the container to flourish even during the winter.
The worms can easily pass between the two compartments through the chinks between the stones.The stones are not plastered together, only placed upon each other. The size of each of the two containers in the bin is 59*57*92cm, about 0.3 m3. The external size is: h: 95 cm, l: 180 cm, w: 120 cm.
The container is easy to construct as soon as the ground under the bottom layer is levelled out. From bottom to top, this container took only two hours to erect. The top and bottom layers consist of Leca-stones without styrofoam.
The air for the composting process enters the container through the chinks between the stones. A worm-comfortable heat is produced inside by the decomposition processes. On the top is a lid, made of waterproof truck plywood. In the lid is a square-formed hole through which you put the compost material into the active compartment. The hole is covered with a smaller lid.
An extra plus is that the compost pile is also an exellent work-bench in the garden. When the work is over with, you just sweep the soil and debris into the hole in the compost bin.
When the container is to be emptied, you only have to take a few stones away and empty one of the compartments. When one compartment is filled, you rotate the main lid 180 degrees, so the hole in the lid is above the other compartment. Then you just go on putting new compost material in the empty chamber. The worms will invade this chamber as soon as they recognize the fresh food.
The emptying of the right compartment in January 2002. On the picture you can see the difference between the fresh compost material in the left compartment and the four months old material in the right compartment.
It is these guys (Eisenia foetida) that do the job! They need a moist environment, and they fall asleep when it is below 10 degrees C. Likewise, they abandon the heap if it is warmer that 30 degrees C. Normally, it is different temperatures in different parts of the heap, so they just move to a more worm-nice place. More about worm-keeping at the compost worm page (still in Swedish).