Composters come in many styles. Having the right one is important for maintaing one’s sanity. Here’s some useful tips about different types of composters.
Composting is a great way to take kitchen and yard waste and recycle it into a nutrient rich soil. That soil is a perfect addition to flower and garden beds. Turning all of that waste into compost keeps tons of garbage out of landfills every year, and is the perfect addition to organic gardening.
There are several types of home composters, and each one has their own advantages and disadvantages. In this post we will discuss the three main types and a description of each. That will allow you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Bin Enclosure Style Composters
The most basic form of composting is just having a heap of waste in a pile somewhere in the yard. It may include kitchen scraps, leaves raked in the fall, or grass clippings from lawnmower bagging. The bin enclosure style composters take this concept a step further, by having the age old compost pile contained in a plastic enclosure with a completely open bottom. A good example of this type of composting bin is this one. Many of these types of bins have lids. Those are great for keeping animals out of the compost pile.
Traditional compost piles can cause the yard to look messy and may even be an eyesore for neighbors. The bin enclosures keep the composting material neat inside, and are much easier on the eyes. The open bottom allows for good drainage, and it also provides easy access to earthworms. Earthworms aid in the breakdown of the compost pile as well as leave behind nutrient rich worm castings.
Compost enclosures require the most amount of work if you’re looking to produce compost quickly. You will have to turn and aerate the pile fairly often to speed up cooking times. This can be a good amount of work especially when the bin is nearly full. Turning the pile is by no means required. You can just let it sit and let nature do all of the work, but it will take much, much longer to produce compost this way.
Tumbler Style Composters
Tumbler style composters take one of the hardest parts of traditional composting, and make it super quick and simple to do. The key to producing compost quickly, is the occasional turning of the pile for aeration and to keep the compost cooking.
Compost tumblers are designed to make turning the compost an easy task that anyone can do. Most of these types consist of a plastic bin that turns on wheels or it’s own axis. With a simple flick of the wrist the job is done. These tumblers are probably the easiest to use of all the types. They work really well for small to medium size yards. The tumblers can be placed close to the house for easy access and are perfect for decks and patios.
Compost tumblers have some useful features such as double-sided bins that allow you to add waste to one side while the other side cooks. Compost tea collectors make use of the nutrient rich liquid that drains from the pile to be used as organic fertilizer. If you have very large amount of yard waste (grass clippings, leaves) or a very large family that produces lots of kitchen scraps you may need two of the compost tumblers due to the limitations of size on most models.
If you’ve ever looked into buying worm castings for your garden or flower beds then you already know how expensive they can be. Worm castings are created when earthworms eat and break down composting material. They are one of the most nutrient rich, organic soils available.
Worm composters give you the ability to make your own high-quality worm castings at home. These compost bins consist of multi-level trays filled with worms that you add your waste material to. After that, just let the worms do all the work. When one tray is full you just add another on top. The worms work their way up to the top after they finish composting each tray.
Shredded paper and kitchen scraps are recycled into a nutrient rich soil that is perfect for organic gardens. The worm composting bins can be a bit messier than they other types of composters. They also have the lowest capacity, but the payoff is the high-quality otherwise expensive worm castings that are produced in the process.
Things to Consider before Choosing a Composter
When looking for the right type of composter for your home two main factors are most important; size and ease of use. First, the size of the unit compared with it’s planned use should match up. You don’t want a huge monstrosity if all you plan to add is a few kitchen scraps here and there, so a small tumbler or worm composter is ideal. On the other hand if you have large amounts of scraps and yard waste you want to compost you’ll want to find one of the larger tumblers or maybe even an enclosed bin type.
Ease of use is very important, and more than likely will determine your desire to continue composting. Choosing the right one is important if you don’t want your composter sitting unused and collecting dust.
Are They the Right Size & Easy Enough to Use?
The tumbler types are very easy to use and are great for beginners and veterans alike. They require much less attention than the other types to produce compost quickly. Just add scraps and give it a turn every other day or so.
The enclosed bin types hold much more material but require a bit more work to maintain while taking longer to make finished compost. If you don’t mind a little more work (manually turning) this might be the composter for you.
The worm composters come with the added requirement of making sure the conditions are ideal for the worms, but produce some of the best organic soil. They have much a lower capacity than other bins, but can be placed inside (some people even put them next to the kitchen) making them convenient for kitchen scraps. Worms do all the work and produce high quality worm castings in the process.
These are all things to consider when trying to decide which composter is best for your situation. In any case you’ll be greatly reducing the waste being sent to landfills, and get rewarded with great quality soil year after year. I think that is something all gardeners can get behind.