Choosing a Composter
There’s something satisfying about converting kitchen scraps and other garbage into a material that can help your garden. Food, leaves, and lawn clippings decomposing together into a nutrient-rich mulch is one of nature’s finest delicacies. Whether you’re hoping to add some compost into next season’s garden or just looking for a way to recycle your produce’s odds and ends, there are tons of composting bins that can help!
Many people have found success with composting right in the ground without a bin, but there are some big risks that come with not protecting decomposing food. It’s likely that unwanted visitors like rats and bugs will nest in the pile and eat up your materials. Composters on top of solid surfaces are always the safest choice.
Different Types of Composting Bins
Hoop bins are basic models that rest on the ground and are easy to fill. Most are made from an adjustable recycled plastic and are usually inexpensive. These don’t offer much protection against bugs or other animals and it can be difficult to mix the materials inside.
Slatted bins use a similar design as hoop bins but are usually made of wood and wire. They offer lots of air circulation, make it easy to add materials, and are very attractive in gardens. But like hoop bins, they require heavy turning, leach nutrients when it rains, and won’t deter animals.
Compost tumblers stand above the ground and are the most ergonomic options. The tall design and turning handle make it very easy to add and mix the materials without additional tools. Breakdown will happen quickly, and the compost will be protected against rain and animals.
Rolling composters use a spherical design that can be rolled to your garden, filled up, rolled away, and then flipped over whenever you want to mix the contents. Their only downside is they can become heavy when full and hard to roll. They also require more space than other composters so there’s room to flip.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Composter
Purpose and amount of compost desired:Are you composting because your town requires it and will collect your pile? Or because you want to use it as gardening soil and landscaping mulch on large areas of land? Creating enough compost for an entire gardening season will require a much larger bin than just having an eco-friendly way to dispose of kitchen materials.
There are some challenges to the different sizes of composters. Larger bins can be hard to maintain because they require extra work to heat and ventilate properly. But small bins can also be difficult because they dry out quicker and are more affected by the temperature outside. Be sure to weigh the various pros and cons of all sizes that would work best for your property and goals.
Ergonomic design:Mixing your composting materials is the quickest way to break them down. Adding air and moisture to the pile is essential for fast decomposition. Compost tumblers and other elevated designs are easiest on your back and neck for adding and turning materials.
Material and durability: Dark-colored recycled plastic is one of the most popular options for composters. It absorbs lots of heat while preventing moisture from escaping, which speeds up the breakdown process. Wood is another good choice, but it won’t heat up as quickly as dark plastic will. The wood needs to be cedar or another rot-resistant option so it doesn’t become part of the compost!
We don’t recommend using compost bins made of pressure-treated lumber because they’re likely to contain toxins, which can seep into the pile and ultimately your vegetables.
Ventilation:Successful composting depends on proper airflow. Without enough ventilation, the materials will decompose slowly and turn into a stinky mess. Your neighbors won’t appreciate this! Make sure your composter has plenty of holes or slits so enough oxygen gets in.