How to Choose a Composter
Compost happens: It goes without saying, that eventually, with minimal attention, expense and effort on your part, compost will happen.
Choosing the right equipment for the space you garden, will be the first and most important step you take. There may be an initial cost as you choose the type of compost bin that will work around your available space and lifestyle. But that cost will come back to you over time as you use less and less chemical fertilizers to assist you in garden growth. This article is intended to guide you to choosing the correct compost for your backyard garden, the fact sheet at the bottom of the page will provide you with a quick review of the variety of composters our garden shop sells.
1. What are your space requirements?
The most widely available composting tool is the bin, which can neaten up your yard, and speed the composting process by consolidating ingredients. Understanding what you will be composting will help you determine the proper size of the bin to purchase/build. Most of our store composters hold at least 7 cubic feet and no greater then 25 cubic feet of organic material. If you're more of a builder then a buyer, you can build your own compost bin, but don't try to go much larger then 4x4 cubic feet. That is the ideal maximum size for a non-tumbling compost pile to decompose. If you expect to compost a large amount of lawn and garden waste, such as grass clippings, leaves, etc. then choose to purchase or make the larger size (12-25 cubic feet). If however, you will primarily compost kitchen waste for container gardening, the smaller size compost bin will be sufficient.
Tumbler composters are smaller then continuous composters because they take less time for the compost to cure. Determine whether you need a batch composter or a continuous composter first, then choose the size of composter based upon the materials you will be composting.
2. Do you need a continuous or a batch / tumbler composter?
Continuous composters cure the organic waste more slowly then do batch composters. However, for the less active backyard landscaper who is only looking to compost kitchen waste, and are not concerned with how quickly the compost is created, a continuous composter is ideal. A continuous composter produces compost over time... the user adds organic waste as it's created, occasionally mixing the compost pile. There are no time-tables for ideal results...
A tumbler composter is for the more active backyard landscaper; a person who actively gardens every 1 to 2 days. A tumbling composter must be checked daily for moisture, adding water when needed, and drying when too wet. It also should be turned daily. The batching process requires you to add all of your organic material at once, so having additional space to store the material until you get sufficient quantities to produce compost is required.
With a batch composter, you add all of your ingredients at once, tumble it periodically and produce a "batch" of compost in four to eight weeks. A tumbler composter is the fastest way to create compost, but needs to be turned daily and checked for sufficient moisture. You also need to stockpile the materials in a separate area until you have enough to make a batch. For fastest results, shred or chop up the materials before putting them into the composter.
The ideal gardener would have at least one of each type of composters. They would use the continuous composter to store their garden and kitchen waste (and start the curing)... then transfer that material to the empty batch processor when starting the next batch.
3. Do you need to create compost indoors?
Worm bins allow the backyard gardener to create compost inside. This method of composting is known as vermicomposting, and we devote several articles just to this type of stealth composting.
Using our Worm Factory and red wiggler worms inside your garage or basement, along with kitchen waste from 2-5 adults, will enable you to harvest worm castings and compost tea, both of which are nutrient rich.
This method of composting can be the quickest and most effective.
Compost Bins By Type and Size
Tumbler Composters, sorted smallest to largest
- Jora Compost Tumbler 33 Gallon - 4.4 cu ft.
- Back Porch Compost Tumbler - 5 cu. ft.
- Compact Compost Tumbler - 6.5 cu. ft.
- Jora Compost Tumbler 70 Gallon - 9.3 cu. ft.
- Compost Tumbler - 22.4 cu. ft.
Continuous Composters, sorted smallest to largest
- Deluxe Pyramid Composter - 12 cu. ft.
- 90-Gallon Feelgood Composter - 12 cu. ft.
- Aerobin® Composter - 14 cu. ft.
- Earthmaker™ Composter - 16.5 cu. ft.
Wire Bins and Other Simple Containers
- Wire Bin Composter - 16 cu. ft.
- Simple Natural Compost Bin - 27 cu. ft.
- 3-Bin Wire Composting System - 48 cu. ft.
Think Four Seasons: When designing your backyard landscape, remember that there are four seasons. You will want flowers and shrubs which bloom during different times of the season, autumn foliage during the fall, and a structure that can withstand the winter.
Plan before you dig a water garden. Before you even start to think of digging to put in a water garden, make sure you plan everything in advance. Dimensions, the type of water garden you want to have, how deep it will need to be and if you need any permits to do so. If in doubt, call a professional out to help you. That's why they are there.
Get the right supplies for the job. Make sure you always get the exact right supplies you need for the job at hand. Don't skimp on quality when you are landscaping your backyard as you will pay dearly for it in the long run.