I was going to make a post today about different types of compost bins, but hey, other people have done that already. What I can offer you is why you may choose one over the other!
First, let’s start with this link from ehow.com on compost bins. I’ll just refer to the types they have listed there as they have done a pretty good job.
Stand-up Plastic Bin
This is the type we have at our home. It is great for being in a more urban area so neighbors aren’t having to look at your compost scraps, it stays enclosed in case of unwanted critters, and another plus of it being enclosed is it can hold in the heat a bit better. In my cold climate, the longer I can keep my compost warm, the better. You can sometimes find food grade plastic bins for pretty cheap on Craigslist, but do keep in mind that if you don’t cut off the bottom of the bin so it is directly on the ground, it doesn’t retain the heat as much. Without the bottom open, you would also need to completely dump out the bin in order to get to the completed compost at the bottom. Bins made for composting normally have an open bottom and some doors at the bottom to access the completed compost before the top of the pile is finished.
Ehow.com also mentioned compost bins with features like one that turns the compost for you and other fancy things. When we bought our bin last year, I had never heard of this before, so I’m hesitant to jump on that bandwagon because I’m worried it would break and then I have to deal with (literally) a pile of trash to get in and fix it. If anyone has gotten one of these fancy bins, I’m all ears for your experience!
Compost Tumbler or Rotating Orb
These look like an awesome idea so you don’t have to go in and turn your compost. The issue I’ve heard with them though is they get quite heavy and cumbersome. Also, since it isn’t touching the ground, the natural heat from the earth doesn’t keep it warm in winter months. If you live in a warmer climate, this is not really a problem for you. As the website says, you also have to finish the compost bin contents before starting another as opposed to taking finished compost from the bottom. With this in mind, if you live in a little bit warmer climate (not 5 months of winter like we can experience here!), and you can keep two smaller compost tumblers on hand, this is a really cool option!
Wooden or Wire Mesh Composter
These are by far the most economical to start up, and the open air design helps keep fresh air running through your compost at all times. One downside is if it isn’t done just right, it can look like a pile of trash in your back yard, which the neighbors may not be too thrilled with. Also, if you have unwanted critters in your area, they could pick off your composted goodies, plus bring unwanted attention to your yard for them to snack on your garden. I would think if you keep a decent amount of “browns” (newspaper, leaves, etc.) on top of the food scraps, this should ward off most animals. I love the look of these if they are done right… they can have a rustic, antique feel to them, especially the wooden composter!
Computerized Indoor Composter
I should say I don’t know anyone who has one of these. They are pretty expensive, and the ones I’ve seen in the stores are pretty small. Still, if you are single or a small family, and/or living in a place where you can’t have a compost outside, it can be a great option. Even if you can’t have a garden outside, you can use the finished compost to grow your own herbs in your kitchen, or even just house plants. There’s definitely some good reasons to purchase an indoor composter, though the price and size can be a hindering factor for some.
Before I started composting for myself and I was scouring the Internet for information, I came across a farmer on YouTube that had a small video showing his compost heap. He says he doesn’t turn it or anything. He waits for a year or two for it to decompose on its own, and just creates a different pile in the meantime. If you have the space to do this, go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You have a pile of healthy dirt in your back yard? The downside is obviously the looks of it, and it is more prone to getting picked through by critters. If you are afraid you’re not going to keep up on turning a compost, then this could be a good way for you also.
What’s your favorite type of compost bin? What works for you or what do you think would work? If you’re just starting out, get your kids involved in the decision making! Help them understand priorities, wants, and needs by being a part of family decisions!
The rest of the series to check out!
- Composting Basics: 3 Reasons to Start a Compost (January 1, 2013)
- Compost Bins - What Works for You? (January 10, 2013)
- What Can Be Composted? (January 17, 2013)
- Composting: What About When... (January 23, 2013)
- When is Compost Finished, and What to Do With It? (January 31, 2013)
Our current one is a stand up plastic bin. It works okay, but I always afraid I’ll break it when I go to turn it over each month. We used to have a compost tumbler. I loved that one and it seemed to break everything down faster. We sold it prior to moving, but I’m considering buying another tumbler.
Wow, that would not be good to break it! Ours is pretty thick so it seems quite sturdy, but turning can be pretty heavy work so I can see how it can take a tole on a bin!
Mine is the open wire fencing kind of bin. I have a woods behind my house and many critters come to my yard from there, including several possums every night. The possums head straight for my compost bin when they come down here. They steal a few bits but it’s all ok. My cat sits on her platform inside the back window and watches them.
That’s good to know. I had some major squirrel scratches on mine and was thinking I’d barely have anything left if they got in! 🙂 Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Possums eat more than squirrels do, lol. Good luck!
John Hric says
There are 3 compost bins here. They are 5 x 5 feet across and about 4 foot tall. They have plastic corrugated material on sides and back with a steel mesh separating each individual bin. Wood pieces are slid across the front as they are filled and emptied. Pieces of the corrugated plastic are used to keep the worst of the rain off the compost pile. All the yard and kitchen vegetable waste go into the piles. With 3 bins I have enough room to fill the newest one and empty the oldest and finished.
Wow, what a system! Do you have a large family or a farm to fill those up? I have a hard time filling up my one bin. 🙂
John Hric says
a large garden – flowers mostly now. Used to have a veggie garden, but the encroaching trees and cooler summer weather put an end to the veggies. The flowers daylilies – tolerate the trees better. As for the kitchen scraps – there are 3 three of us. So no it is mostly yard waste. I do add coffee grounds that come from sources outside of our household. We live on a city lot that is deeper than normal. Lot size is 45 ft x 270 ft.
James Williams says
i wonder whether you have considered anaerobic composting? These methods can be done inside (at least for part of the process). Because it doesn’t require oxygen the process is quite clean and efficient. I use the Urban Composter (see http://www.urbancomposterusa.com), which creates nutrient rich liquid fertilizer for the garden and pulp which gets added to my outdoor compost bin. This seems to provide me the complete solution, and saves me having to trudge outside to the compost bin quite so often.
I’ve never heard of that before, but it looks really neat! I’m definitely pinning that site and coming back to it. Thanks for sharing!