With so many different types of compost bins available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs.
In this article, we’ll explore different types compost bins and help you decide which one is best for you. Just read through the article without making any decisions. Make some notes about what will work and what won’t work.
Then you will have a starting point.
Choosing the Best Compost Bin For You
Factors to Consider
First things first. How much space have you got?
Consider the amount of space you have available for a compost bin. If you live in an apartment, you will need a smaller compost bin that can fit on a balcony.
You may decide to stick with a kitchen composter bin or compost pail, at least to begin with.
There’s no right or wrong but starting with a kitchen composter for your food scraps and organic material is a good introduction to creating compost.
You could also consider worm composting if space is limited. A worm composter system is suitable for apartment dwellers.
Lots of Outdoor Space
Any outdoor compost bin will work for you. A stationary bin or bins, large tumbling composters, DIY compost bins, a compost pile or a worm farm. The world is your oyster regarding compost bin selection.
If you want to start with easy, get a tumbler.
A Small Amount of Outdoor Space
Similar to what is okay for lots of outdoor space but smaller, a smaller compost bin, a smaller tumbler a smaller worm farm.
Zero Outdoor Space Or maybe a Balcony
Consider a kitchen electric composter, a compost pail or a worm farm. A worm farm can live on a balcony as long as it doesn’t get direct sun all day.
What are your Compost Needs?
Think about how much compost you need and how quickly you want it. Do you have enough kitchen waste and yard waste?
You may live in a small property, unit, villa, apartment, flat and wish to use compost as a soil amendment for a herb garden or vegetable garden or pot plants. The needs can be many and varied.
A compost pile may be more for you if you are hands on. You could even decide on a large automatic composter (they are costly but efficient).
You can combine your composting efforts to also include worm composting.
If you’re concerned about odors, look for a compost bin with proper ventilation, air vents, or charcoal filters to ensure that there is very little odor.
Ease of Use
Even a small kitchen indoor composter can have a filter which is replaceable. Some of the compost materials in the kitchen pails can become quite smelly if not emptied frequently. Charcoal and carbon filters are common in kitchen composters.
Consider how easy the compost bin is to use and maintain. Some bins require more work than others, so choose the best compost bin that suits your lifestyle.
If you are a beginner start with something simple until you build some knowledge about composting and what works and doesn’t work.
I live in a temperate climate but it can be hot and dry in summer so I have found what works best for us.
A simple black compost bin will always be useful in the yard, even if you progress to other methods or even change your mind about the type of composting that you want to do.
Simple black plastic compost bins with varying design features, similar to the one below, is usually the one that local councils may offer free of charge to ratepayers.
Types of Compost Bins
Outdoor Stationary Bins
One popular type of compost bin is the stationary bin.
These large bins are typically made of wood, plastic, or metal, come in various sizes and are designed to sit in one place.
Stationary bins can be purchased pre-made or built from scratch, depending on your budget and DIY skills.
They are designed to be placed in a fixed location and filled with organic waste over time. These bins are great for those who have a small to moderate amount of yard waste and kitchen scraps to compost.
They work by allowing air to circulate through the compost heap, which helps to break down the organic matter.
They are easy to use and maintain and are a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.
Another option is a tumbling compost bin or compost tumbler, which is a large container on legs with a door in the side. These tumbling or compost tumblers and bins are designed to be turned regularly to mix up the compost and speed up the process of decomposition.
They’re a great option for people who want to compost quickly and efficiently.
They are designed to be placed in a fixed location and filled with compostable materials such as garden waste and kitchen waste, over time.
These bins are great for those who have a small amount of yard waste and kitchen scraps to compost.
Some compost tumblers have two rotating drums or chambers. The drums are mounted are designed to be turned manually or with the help of a motor.
When you begin composting, you start by filling one chamber with organic materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, other yard debris and yard trimmings and other biodegradable items.
The first chamber is considered the “active” or “filling” chamber.
As the drum is turned, the materials inside are mixed and aerated, which helps to speed up the composting process.
Once the active chamber is nearly full or after a specific duration (such as a few months), you stop adding new waste and allow the materials to decompose further. At this point, you can start using the second chamber for fresh waste while the first one matures.
The dual chamber compost bin provides a convenient system for composting. It allows for continuous compost production and easier management of composting materials
Insulated bins for compost
An insulated compost bin is a composting container that has an added layer of insulation to help regulate the internal temperature of the compost.
This insulation can help to retain heat and keep the compost warm in colder weather and prevent it from overheating in warmer weather.
They use a combination of heat, aeration, and moisture to break down the waste into compost.
In a garden situation with many different things to compost, it is important to maintain a balance of carbon-rich materials (such as leaves or straw) and nitrogen-rich materials (such as food scraps or grass clippings) to ensure proper decomposition.
The composting process can take several months to a year, depending on the size of the composter and the materials being composted.
Large composters may have a built-in mixing mechanism or require manual turning to ensure that the contents are aerated properly.
The moisture level and temperature of the compost are also monitored to ensure that the conditions are optimal for decomposition
Insulated compost bins may have additional features like ventilation or moisture control to help optimize the process of composting.
Worm Farm or Vermicomposting System
Another type of compost bin are worm bins, which uses worms to break down organic matter.
These bins are typically smaller and can be kept indoors or outdoors, depending on your preference. The system of using worms to make compost is called Vermicomposting.
They’re a great option for people who want to compost in a small space or who want to compost year-round.
Worm bins, use compost worms in the decomposition process.
Worm bins or worm composters are typically made of plastic and come in various sizes. These small bins are great for those who want to make compost but may have limited outdoor space.
Worm bin composting can be done indoors. Special composting worms are used.
Worm farms great for people who have a dedicated space for composting and don’t need to move their bin around. Vermicompost or worm castings are the end result of worm farming. Worm castings are then used in the garden.
Mind you, we have moved our compost bin. Additions to the house made a move a necessity but also sometimes a sunny spot in the garden becomes shaded as trees and shrub grow. They can be moved if necessary.
They are not the worms found in your garden which are called earthworms.
Bokashi Compost Bin
Bokashi composting is a method of composting that uses a special type of bacteria to break down organic waste.
Bokashi compost bins are typically made of plastic and come with a special mix of bacteria. This is a specific type of composting. There are more instructions here about Bokashi Composting. Bokashi composting is anaerobic which means that no oxygen is used in the process of compost being made.
These bins are great for those who want to compost indoors or have limited outdoor space.
Large Compost Bins
Large compost bins are designed for those who have a lot of garden waste and kitchen scraps to compost.
They are typically made of plastic or wood and come in various sizes. These larger bins are great for those who want to compost on a larger scale but are still okay for a backyard.
Kitchen Electric Composters
Electric composters are not only for those with a yard as there are now also electric kitchen composters for organic materials. Technology has certainly come a long way with composting.
An electric kitchen or food waste composter is a kitchen appliance that uses aeration, heat, and pulverization to reduce food waste volume, emissions, and odor.
The composting cycle typically takes between five to 48 hours, depending on the model. Most electric composters are countertop-friendly and easy to use.
The Vitamix Food Cycler Platinum is one of the best electric composters available.
What About A Compost Pile?
I know that this article is about compost bins, however if you have the space don’t discount the compost pile, particularly if you are watching the pennies.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Different Compost Bins
Some Things To Consider
Enclosed bins keep pests out and compost contained however they can be harder to turn and limited ventilation can slow down the composting process.
Tumbling Composters are easy to use and turn and produce compost quickly and easily. More may be more expensive than other types of compost bins.
Worm composting systems are efficient and great for small spaces. They produce high-quality compost and compost tea. They do require proper maintenance and care and the right conditions to thrive.
Electric Composters – Electric composters are fast and efficient, but they can be expensive and may not be suitable for larger volumes of compost.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are DIY compost bins?
DIY compost bins are composting systems that are built at home using easily available materials.
These bins can be made from wood, plastic, or even repurposed materials such as old barrels or pallets.
DIY compost bins are a great option for those who want to save money and have control over the size and design of their compost bin.
The compost bins below are made from wood.
How do I get a free compost bin from the council?
Many local councils offer free or discounted compost bins to their residents.
Contact your local council to find out if they have a compost bin scheme and how to apply for a free or discounted bin.
Some councils also offer composting workshops to help residents learn how to compost effectively.
What are batch composters?
A batch composter and a dual chamber rotating compost bin are essentially the same thing.
They both allow for batch composting, which is the process of filling one side with organic materials and letting it decompose while adding new materials to the other side.
These composters are ideal for those who generate a lot of waste at once, such as after pruning or gardening.
Note: You can still add to a dual chamber or batch composter bit by bit. It is not necessary to completely fill it at once. Having the option to fill it at once is where the term “batch” comes from.
Batch composters require a bit more effort and attention (turning or rotating) than other types of compost bins, but they can produce high-quality compost quickly.
What is the 3-bin compost method?
The 3-bin compost method is a composting system that involves three separate compost bins.
The first bin is used for fresh waste, the second bin is used for compost that is in the process of decomposing, and the third bin is used for finished compost.
This method allows for a continuous supply of compost and is ideal for those who generate a lot of food scraps and waste. With a continuous supply of compost, you can them move a step further and make compost tea. Here is a guide explaining how to make compost tea.
A local restaurant in my area uses fresh produce in the restaurant from their very large vegetable garden. In the vegetable garden, they use a 3 bin composting method using wooden compost bins.
It is becoming more common for restaurants and cafes to actively make their own compost, where possible, and to use eco friendly products.
Savvy consumers also like this approach. We all feel better if we are actively doing something positive, no matter how small. It all adds up. It is better to be greener.