Subpod Is The Latest Composting System To Hit The Media. Here I Examine The Pros & Cons of Subpods
I’m all in favour of anything that encourages people to grow veg crops in the garden. So when I saw the advert for Subpod I was intrigued. SubPod claims to the best composting system I’ve ever seen, odour free, pest free, neighbour approved and with five-minute assembly.
It’s apparently simple, modular and modern and composts my kitchen and green waste by using worms and microbes to do the work. Ohh and it’s largely buried underground .. though I’m not terribly clear why that’s a benefit and not a disadvantage!
And I do like the company’s vision of a world where composting as a part of everyday life. It already is in my family and has been for decades.
What Is Subpod?
Essentially Subpod is a plastic container, divided into two sections. The sides and bottom are perforated sufficiently to allow worms and smaller living creatures in and put but too small to let mice and rats in.
There’s a lid that seals the top and the whole thing is buried, or partially buried, in the soil or into a raised bed.
The dimensions of the Subpod are 75 cm long, 45 cm high and 43 high. So it’s not very big.
So the easiest way I can see of describing the Subpod is that it’s a smallish plastic wormery that is part buried when in use. The resulting compost can be used as a mulch, soil additive etc.
Subpod Pros & Benefits
As I said earlier I like anything that encourages people to grow their own veg. And when they provide YouTube videos to explain the system I give them a vote straight away. That’s got to be positive.
Subpod Cons: Why I Hesitate To Recommend Subpod
OK, so the Subpod prevents smells. Smells in compost come from anaerobic conditions. No compost should go anaerobic or it will smell. The thing is no compost system that’s properly managed need go anaerobic. And in the video on starting the SubPod the commentator warns about putting too much compost in the Subpod at the start or it will turn the compost anaerobic and drive away the worms away.
That takes me onto it being easy to set up. Just five minutes it says. So in five minutes, you have to assemble the Subpod, dig a hole big enough for it, ensure its level, add the starter compost and the worms. That’s after buying the starter compost and worms as it doesn’t come with them. I’m not sure how long this is all going to take but it seems to me that it’ll be much slower than the five minutes claimed. Check out the video to see what’s involved and decide if you could do it in five minutes. I couldn’t.
Pest free is another issue I have with this product. I’ve seen a lot of feed bins on farms and in stables that claim to be pest-free. They are often made of plastic or metal and resist the rodents until they chew a hole in them. Even galvanised sheet metal succumbs to rats after a while. They just chew through it. So I’m not sure how the plastic SubPod is going to resist a rat or two!
And if the system is pest-free, why the video on cockroaches and ant problems? To me, a cockroach is definitely a problem!
Now let’s think a bit more about simplicity. I watched some of the videos which highlighted how the worms can be driven away by overloading the system and making it anaerobic, how the worms have to be removed from the bin that is to be emptied and, once done, how the compost needs to be lifted out to an exact predetermined level.
If the system is so simple why is there a video on … Tips for fixing overfed compost worms? If the instructions inside the lid of the bin were so easy to follow then mistakes wouldn’t happen. Of course, in life mistakes happen .. usually where systems aren’t as simple as claimed!
Then there’s the term “neighbour approved”. I’m not convinced that they have asked the neighbours. Did they ask you to approve it for your neighbours? To me, this is just a shallow, meaningless and trite claim that can’t be validated. It’s poor marketing and devalues the whole system by telling me something I know not to be true. How can it be a “neighbour approved outdoor composting system” when my neighbours haven’t been consulted?
Finally, there is the price.
According to the SubPod website the system is available as the basic plastic box, the box with an aerator (a large corkscrew type device) or as a Grow Bundle which is the plastic box, aerator and a grow bed (this looks like a raised bed to me). The Grow bed is slightly larger than the subpod and surrounds it. I couldn’t determine what its made from but I assume it is plastic as well.
Prices range from £179 for the basic plastic box to £299 for the full kit. I say full kit but of course there still the worms and starter compost to find, buy and install.
Subpod: Will It Sell?
According to the information provided 16,000 SubPods have already sold. And I’ve no doubt many more will sell. It’s the sort of product that appeals to gardeners that think its going to answer all their gardening problems.
Of course, it probably won’t solve all their problems and it’s going to cost a fair bit of money before buyers discover this. Certainly, there are positive reviews on the website. Positive reviews are always easy to find at the outset. I wonder how many of them will continue using it in a years time.
Personally, I’m going to continue using my conventional, aroma-free compost bins and save myself £299.
NB I’m delighted to have received a comment (below) from Peter at SubPod. We share many common beliefs in gardening and the need to compost. But I’m still to be convinced about expensive systems like this one.
If you want your gardening to be simpler why not join my Dig For Victory Facebook Group?