Discover the right compost bin for your garden. We identified the various types you can choose from and divided them by subcategories.
Food scraps, dead leaves, twigs and animal waste are just some of the most common organic waste that can be converted into fertilizers through composting. Composting does a lot of good for the environment and we can all do it at the comforts of our own homes. With the right composting bin, composting at home can happen at a faster rate, without any foul smell and without the unsightly waste lying out in the open.
In a nutshell, a composting bin is just a container you can use for composting. You would also need oxygen, moisture, warmth, nitrogen, lime, and soil or completed compost for the composting.
Table of Contents
- 1. Type
- 2. Location
- 3. Material
- 4. Feature
- 4. Capacity
A. Compost Tumbler
Compost tumblers consist of a large container on legs with a door in the side where you can put your compost. When you need to turn your compost, you can use the attached handle to spin the entire container, effectively tumbling everything inside and mixing it up.
While there are some compost tumblers that have wheels which allow you to roll them over to your garden to dump out the compost, these are a little trickier to find. The majority of compost tumblers are stationary, sit on taller legs so you can easily use them, and have a handle that you can turn to toss the compost inside the container.
This eliminates the need to use a pitchfork or a shovel to turn your compost, so if you have back problems or don’t think that you can handle the manual labor, a compost tumbler is a great decision for you. They tend to become more difficult to spin as their capacity gets larger, so that’s something to take into consideration when making a decision to buy one.
Larger loads will weigh more, making it harder to turn the handle and spin the compost. Tumblers are very durable and well-made. Since they need to be able to handle the heavy weight of the compost, they usually come on strong legs and with great connections to ensure that they don’t fall apart. Because they are made of thick material, they will be able to stand up to years of use and hot UV rays without sustaining any damage.
Because compost tumblers make it easy to turn your compost and aerate it, you will find that you can create a great batch of compost in just a few weeks. Of course, make sure that you do not fill the drum too full or you will not be able to easily spin it. When it’s time to empty the bin, simply place a wheelbarrow underneath it, turn the drum so that the door faces down, and dump it in.
Since compost tumblers are lifted up off of the ground and are completely sealed, it is almost possible for rodents or other pests to get into your compost. Of course, tumblers are more expensive than bins are, but since they last longer and are generally better made, they tend to be worth the extra expense.
B. Compost Bin
Compost bins are stationary, rest on the ground, and provide you with a place to put all of your scraps for composting. These take a little longer to produce a batch of compost since they are much more difficult to aerate.
While you can sometimes toss the items in a compost bin, a majority of the time it is too difficult to get a shovel or pitchfork into the compost pile to turn it. This means that it takes longer for the compost to break down and for your batch to be ready. Depending on the weather and how full the bin is, it can take between two and three months for the compost to be ready.
One of the perks of a compost bin over a tumbler is that they have larger capacities, which allows you to fill the bin with more items before running out of space for your compost. Even though compost bins can hold more than tumblers can, they are not made of the same high-quality plastic. This is because the bin only has to contain the material, not actually support the weight of the compost.
Over time and especially in very cold weather, this thin plastic can become brittle and crack. It’s important that you keep your compost bin out of direct sunlight if possible, and that you are careful when taking off the lid. If you are on a budget and want something to contain your compost, a compost bin may be the right choice for you.
C. Kitchen Compost Bin
Just because you don’t have a large backyard where you can put a compost bin or a compost tumbler doesn’t mean that you should miss out on being able to compost like everyone else. If you want to reduce your food waste while at the same time getting some great soil for your garden, a kitchen compost bin is a great choice for you.
These smaller bins allow you to easily compost kitchen waste in the comfort of your own home. Countertop compost bins are small enough to fit on your countertop, under the sink, or in a pull-out drawer and provide you with a safe place in which to collect your scraps.
While you won’t want to commit to turning these scraps into full compost in your kitchen, you can take your scraps to a larger compost area such as at your city’s waste collection every so often. Other places you can take your scraps include community gardens or farmer’s markets.
D. Worm Composting Bin
Worm bins are incredibly easy to maintain and produce high-quality compost that can greatly benefit your garden. While it takes a little effort to get your worm bin working properly at first, once it is working the way it needs to, it takes very little effort to maintain.
You can place these outside, but they can also fit easily into the basement or garage of your home if you don’t have a place outdoors to put your bin. When looking for a worm composting bin, you will want to make sure that it has plenty of drainage so you don’t actually drown your worms. This is a great way to enjoy worm tea and to fertilize your plants.
Also, consider the size of your bin and how easily you will be able to harvest the worms’ castings. You don’t want to have to remove all of your worms just to get the compost, and the less you bother your worms, the faster they will be able to do their job. In addition, be sure to look for a black composter, as this will simulate the dark environment that worms are used to and make sure that there is plenty of ventilation so they can breathe.
E. Compost Bag
There are a few options when it comes to buying a compost bag. One of the most popular is a bag that can be filled with compost and then put into your green bin. These bags will biodegrade in under six months, allowing the compost to rejoin the earth. The other type of compost bag is a sack system that is much larger and more portable.
Just like compost bins, you can put all your compost material into these bags and then allow them to compost, moving the bag from time to time to help to toss the material. With an outer material that stands up to rot and an inside designed to help hold moisture inside the bag, these compost bags work quickly to break down the material inside them.
Being able to start or complete composting inside your home is great for anyone who lives in an apartment or is unable to handle large composting bins or tumblers. If you do not produce a lot of compostable waste, it may not be worth the effort or money to buy a large bin.
In this case, you can get away with having a smaller kitchen bin or even a worm bin inside your home. While you do have to be careful with gnats and fruit flies being attracted to your worm bin, there are ways to combat this issue so that you can enjoy compost like everyone else.
If you have plenty of room outside for your compost and know that you’re going to be producing a lot of compostable waste, you will want to opt for an outdoor compost system. These are much larger than the ones you can set up inside your home, and they allow you to keep your compost away from your living area in case it attracts rodents or has an unpleasant smell. When looking for an outdoor compost option, you will want to make sure that you keep it out of direct sunlight and that it is easy for you to use.
Sometimes the best way to compost is by using a product that can be used both inside and outside. This is generally going to be a worm compost bin. While you can take your worms outside when there is good weather, when it turns too cold for your worms to survive, by bringing them back in the home, you won’t have to worry about them dying.
This is ideal for anyone who wants to compost but still wants to make sure that their worms don’t die each winter. Small worm composting bins are fairly easy to move, although they can get very heavy as they fill up, so it’s important to take the weight into consideration when choosing a size.
Wood compost bins are some of the most attractive options that you can buy and will blend in with the natural surroundings of your property. Unlike other materials which will stick out and be very obvious around your home, when you choose wood, you can rely on the fact that it will not be as obvious to people visiting your home. You want to make sure that the wood has been treated to stand up to composting so that your bin doesn’t start to rot and break down along with the compost you’re creating.
Most kitchen composters are ceramic in material. This material naturally resists both odors and stains, making it ideal for use inside the home as it won’t smell or look unsightly on your countertop.
For a strong compost bin that can stand up to all kinds of weather as well as the sun for years without damage, look for one made of resin. Just like outdoor sheds that are made of this material, when you want something very strong, composters made of resin can resist a lot of damage. They won’t fall apart easily, and even extreme weather can’t shatter them. For homeowners who deal with weather extremes and want to make sure that their composter will last, resin is the right choice.
Plastic is a less-expensive option when compared to metal, but you need to be careful when considering the quality of the composter that you’re going to buy. This is because plastic is generally thinner than resin and is therefore unable to stand up to as much use or foul weather without cracking. Make sure that if you choose a plastic composter, you set it up in a protected area, that your region doesn’t experience major temperature swings during the year, and that you are careful when using it.
Metal compost bins are generally made of wire and feature a lot of open space for air circulation. It’s very difficult for an animal to break into a metal composter, although there are usually holes that smaller rodents can sneak through.
Made of a strong plastic that is used in military storage, these composters are built to last for a long time. They are BPA-free and made to last. When opting for a polyethylene composter, it’s good to be aware that you are likely to have to pay more for this material.
Very few people want to struggle with assembling a new composter. If you just don’t have the time, the inclination, or the skill to handle this work by yourself, when you opt for a composter that is already assembled, you won’t have to worry about trying to put it together. These may cost more to ship since they are going to be significantly larger than ones that require assembly, but if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of putting it together by yourself, this is a great option.
It’s a fact – your compost is going to attract wild animals who want to see what they can find to eat inside the bin. One of the main problems occurs when your compost starts to attract rodents, as these pests will also start to look for a way into your home as a result.
If you want to compost but don’t want to deal with pests, make sure that the composter you buy is rodent-proof. This will prevent rodents from being able to get into your composter and will discourage them from coming near your home. Instead of providing them with food and a safe place to sleep, by making sure that your compost is off-limits, you will prevent them from hanging around your property.
While some people don’t mind the smell of compost, it’s not something that you want entering your home or wafting around your yard. Look for a composter that has odor control properties so you don’t have to smell your compost each time the wind blows. This is especially important if you are choosing a composter for inside your home, as you don’t want the smell to permeate your house.
Foldable composters are great for when you have a small space for composting or aren’t going to be using your composter all year long. These composters can break down on themselves to help you save room and store them more easily.
E. Recycled Content
If you want to make sure that you are buying a compost bin or tumbler that is as environmentally-friendly as possible, make sure that you buy one made of recycled content. This means that there was less energy expended to make your new composter and that it required smaller amounts of raw materials to create. To ensure that you get a great compost bin but that the environment wasn’t harmed through its creation, opt for one made of recycled content.
F. Air Vents
Air vents are important because you want the air to circulate around your compost and help break it down. One thing to consider when looking at air vents are their size and whether or not they are made in a way to prevent pests from getting into your compost.
While you can opt to buy a compost bin that has large open holes on the sides to help with air circulation, this will allow rats and other animals to get into your compost. For this reason, make sure that there are air vents on your bin, but that they are designed to keep the compost in and animals out.
Buying a compost bin or tumbler that’s on wheels will make it significantly easier for you to get the compost onto your garden bed without having to first transfer it to a wheelbarrow. If you want to make sure that you can easily move your compost from one location to another, opt for one with wheels. This is important because compost bins and tumblers can get extremely heavy as they fill up, and without wheels, you will be unlikely to be able to move it easily.
H. Compost Tea Collecting
Often called “liquid gold” and known for being a wonderful fertilizer for your garden, compost tea can be used on vegetables, flowers, and houseplants. This liquid is balanced, full of nutrients, and easy to make by steeping compost in water for a period of time.
Because it is so healthy for your plants, it makes sense that people would go out of their way to obtain this liquid fertilizer. When you buy a compost bin that can make compost tea for you, you won’t have to worry about steeping your compost in water and can instead enjoy the amazing benefits that this liquid fertilizer has to offer without having to do all the work.
I. Two Chambers
Dual compartment compost tumblers are great for users who produce a lot of compost and need more space in their tumbler. Instead of having to wait 6-8 weeks for a batch of compost to be finished, when you have a tumbler with more than one chamber, you can start a second batch right away. This eliminates the question of what you are going to do with your food scraps while the tumbler is full.
When one compartment is full of compost and scraps, you can simply start adding items to the other compartment. This also ensures that you will have a steady stream of compost at all times and won’t ever run out when you are working in your garden.
These composters won’t hold more than 40 gallons of material. They are great for use inside the home and are perfect if you do not need to be able to create a lot of compost for your needs.
For a small family, you can usually get away with buying a medium composter. These can hold up to 74 gallons of material.
Large composters are ideal for families with a few more members and for those who are really interesting in composting.
D. Extra Large
If you need a lot of room for compost in your composter, look for one that is extra large in size. These can hold more than 110 gallons of compost. Of course, these composters will take up a lot more room in your yard, so you need to plan accordingly.
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