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Creating a compost bin is a great way to turn kitchen scraps into plant food. This will help the environment and can save you a lot of money. But you will need to build the compost bin correctly to see these benefits. So, will you need to include a base plate?
A base plate isn’t essential, some compost bin systems are even designed to work without it. But it’s usually a good idea to protect the bottom of the bin. This will stop pests like rats from getting into the compost heap. The base plate will also add oxygen, make it easier to shovel the compost, and allow moisture to drain away.
There are many types of compost bins for you to choose from. Some will have a base, others won’t. Keep reading to learn more about bin design so you can find the right approach for you.
Pros and Cons of a Base Plate
This isn’t an open and shut issue. There are a few elements that you will need to consider. To make this decision a little easier, let’s look at some of the pros and cons that you should weigh up.
Advantages of a Base Plate
Though they usually aren’t needed, there are some occasions where it might make sense to include a base plate. Some of these include:
- Can make shoveling out compost a little easier. The base plate will stop you from digging into the ground and can keep soil looser. Though shoveling out the compost usually isn’t a problem, this might still prove useful if you have a bad back.
- Makes moving the compost bin easier. A base plate can make it easier to transport the bin. As the base plate will need to be mesh, you’ll need to slide something solid, like a wooden board, under the bin.
- Allowing airflow. This is one of the main reasons why a commercial bin will come with a base plate. You need to make sure that the worms are getting plenty of oxygen to encourage them to break down your compost.
- Protecting from animals. These are some critters, like worms, that you want in your compost bin. But there are some that you want to keep out. You don’t want animals like mice or foxes to be able to break in. They can ruin the composting process and make a mess. Plus, you don’t want to get in trouble with the neighbors for encouraging these pests. A mesh base plate should be enough to keep them out.
- Stopping stains. If you have a compost heap on top of a concrete bed, there is a chance that the soil will stain the concrete. A base plate will help prevent this.
Disadvantages of a Base Plate
While there are plenty of reasons why you might want to use a base plate, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. Some of the biggest issues are:
- Allows moisture to drain from the bin. When you are making compost, you need to keep the dirt moist, so the worms can thrive. If you are using a solid base plate, it will trap the moisture, leading to soggy compost.
- Makes it easier for worms to gain access. To break down the compost and the nutrients, you need worms and other helpful critters to get into the compost pile and break down the scraps. If there is a solid base plate they won’t be able to move from the ground to the compost freely.
- Additional cost. If you are on a tight budget, you might not want the cost of buying a base plate.
Ultimately, whether you need a base plate will depend on your needs. Think about the type of compost heap you are creating and weigh up the pros and cons. Usually, though, it’s a good idea to add a base plate. This is an extra layer of protection against pests.
Type of Composting System
The general pros and cons are important to consider. But it’s also important to think about the specific type of compost bin you want to build and whether it needs a base plate. Let’s look at a few different models so you know what you should be looking for.
If you are looking for an easy waste disposal system, this is the right option for you. In this case, it is a bottomless bin without the need for a base plate.
To protect against pests, part of it will be placed underground. Then, you just need to open the lid of the bin and put in the scraps.
If you are looking for an easy waste disposal system, this is the right option for you. In this case, it is a bottomless bin without the need for a base plate. To protect against pests, part of it will be placed underground. Then, you just need to open the lid of the bin and put in the scraps.
But it comes with a huge caveat. It won’t produce compost, as there is no way to get the enriched soil out. However, you will be able to use it to improve the surrounding soil. So, if you put it in the middle of your garden, you should see some benefits.
Plastic Compost Bins
These are some of the most popular composting options. Often, there is a solid or mesh base.
This makes the process easy, as you can open the door at the bottom to get fresh compost.
Finally, if you have a lot of waste, you can create a compost pile. Plus, they are the easiest to create. Sometimes, you can just make a cube by connecting four wooden pellets to form a square pen. These don’t have a base plate. But, because of the potential to attract pests, it’s best to stick to garden waste rather than using them for kitchen scraps.
Type of Base Plate to Use
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of whether you need a base plate or not. If this is something you want to employ, there are a few types of base plates you can use. Let’s look at some of the options:
- Solid base plates. These are designed to be impervious to both compost and water. Usually, this means using plastic.
- Hessian sack. This has several small holes, which allow the worms and beneficial critters through. It is porous so the moisture can come out. But mice might be able to chew their way through.
- Metal grill/chicken mesh. Though this is one of the most expensive options, it will deliver the best results. Worms and moisture can get through. But mice and foxes won’t be able to break through.
Other Ways to Keep Rats Out of the Compost Heap
One of the most important roles of the base plate is to keep rats and other animals out of your compost heap. But they aren’t the only defenses that you can employ. Here are some of the other options you should consider:
- Sprinkle Bokashi. This is a substance that releases an unpleasant odor when in contact with food scraps.
- Moisten the compost. Rats are attracted to a warm, dry place. If your compost heap matches these conditions, they will turn it into their home. To prevent this, you will need to keep it moist. This will also help the worms break down the organic material.
- Turn the compost regularly. To reduce the heat in the pile, you’ll need to turn it frequently.
- Make loud noises. Rats don’t like to be in noisy areas. So, every time you go to the compost heap, give it a few taps with a stick.
Creating a good compost bin is relatively easy. There are plenty of designs for you to pick from, suitable for all conditions and backyard sizes. Whether you include a base plate is up to you. In most cases, though, it will be a good idea. It can boost the efficiency of the composting process, allow access to worms, and stop critters from getting into the compost.