Rodent-Free Composting

Dear Martin

I have an ongoing problem with rats in and around my (regular black plastic) compost bin – they have even chewed through the plastic after I put wire around the bottom. The council has done 2 series of treatments this winter so far. 

I am potentially interested in trying the 220 litre compost tumbler because it states that rats can’t access the tumbler – but I don’t quite understand how it works.  How are new waste and composted waste separated?  From the description I’m wondering if you cannot add compost daily but rather have to use something different for the 4 weeks sit takes to decompose (which rather defeats the purpose.)  The Sun-Mar seems to solve that problem – but I don’t have £400 to spend!   Your suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


Many thanks for your recent enquiry regarding the 220 Litre Tumbleweed Compost Tumbler we supply.  

This is one of the composting products we’ve both tried and tested at our own Harrod Horticultural Kitchen Garden with notable results, it has to be said. We were particularly impressed with the centrally mounted breaker bar which reduced the amount of lumps in the compost, especially after turning it rapidly just before emptying – and it’s definitely rodent-proof. 

However, you are quite correct to question how new material and that which is partially composted can co-exist together in the bin and produce a ready to use result, as the answer is they can’t! I’ve always found that this tumbler and the other Compostumbler range always produce the most uniform compost when they are filled in one hit and this necessitates providing a holding bin or area which you wish to avoid. I should add that it’s not essential to add the material all at once – you could probably use the resultant compost as a winter mulch or something similar - but expect to spend time sorting or sieving your compost if not!

Although I haven’t personally used The Sun-Mar Composter at the Kitchen Garden, I do have extensive experience of the Compostumbler range, which work on a very similar fast-track composting principle. In fact, the Sun-Mar is said to be superior to the tumblers due to the fact it can be loaded daily and will also force lighter material at an advanced stage of decomposition through the feed port. The finished material is again unlikely to serve as a potting mix but is certainly suitable for incorporating into raised beds and borders.  

I hope this information proves to be of help; thanks again for your enquiry and the best of luck with your composting activities.