Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Types of Compost Bins

Did you know that there are many benefits to composting in a bin? If you want to take advantage of these benefits, there are different types of compost bins on the market to suit your needs, tastes and budget including wire cages, wooden bins or a combination of both, as well as commercial bins and tumblers. There are also a number of materials available to make your own.

Benefits of Compost Bins

Aesthetic Appeal: Bins keep compost ingredients out of view from you and your neighbors.

Odor Control: If you have a smelly compost, commercial bins or tumblers, which are fully enclosed, lock in odor.

Keep Animals Away: Most bins, whether they are enclosed or too high to jump, prevent animals from foraging through the compost.

Better Organization: Some bins come with movable shelves or as 3-bin systems. These allow you to keep slow and fast decomposing ingredients in separate areas while keeping finished compost in another.

Types of Compost Bins

Wire Cages: Organic Gardening recommends using 48 inch 12 ½ or 14 gauge wire fencing measuring 10 feet in length. When the piece of fencing is tied or welded together, the wire cage makes a 3 foot wide compost bin. You can also buy finished wire bins if you're not the DIY type.

Wooden Movable Slat Bins: These types of bins have movable slats that make working with compost easier. Each slat acts as a tray which holds compost in different stages of decomposition. The slats are built with spacers on their bottoms to allow air and water to penetrate the entire bin.

Wooden and Wire Combination Bins: Combination bins are 4-sided with wooden frames. Wire is used on the sides and a swinging door makes for easy access.

Commercial Bins: These types of bins are made from plastic, mostly recycled, and are designed to retain heat and capture moisture. They come in different sizes and shapes and come with or without movable slats. They also provide access for aerating and removing finished compost.

Compost Tumblers: Tumblers are typically made from plastic or metal and are designed to spin for easy aeration and mixing. Some come with handles for spinning while others are made to roll. They have hatches for adding ingredients and scooping out finished compost.

DIY Compost Bin Materials

You can always make your own 3 or 4-sided compost bin out of readily available materials. 3-sided bins allow for easy access while 4-sided bins have a swinging and latching door. No mortar is required for concrete blocks, bricks or stones.

  • Concrete Blocks
  • Bricks
  • Large Rocks/Stones
  • Fencing
  • Pallets
  • Large Branches

Buying Checklist

Ease of Portability: Some types of compost bins are bulky and heavy. If you need to be able to move your bin, keep ease of portability in mind and buy one that is lighter in weight.

Capacity: How big do you want or need your bin to be and how much finished compost do you want to be able make? Bins come in small, medium and large.

Ease of Use: Buy a bin that fits your needs and lifestyle. Think about the ease of opening and closing hatches, aerating, adding moisture and removing finished compost when looking at different types of bins. Will a wheelbarrow fit beneath that tumbler for easy compost removal and are you physically able to lift movable slats?

Cost: There are plenty of compost bins on the market to fit just about any budget. The internet is a great place to do your research and find a bin with everything on your checklist and in your budget.

Finding and buying a compost bin that is right for you is easy when you know what you are looking for. With a checklist of your needs and a type in mind, you’ll be well on your way towards finding the best bin for backyard composting.

Reference: Organic Gardening (2007). Make Compost in 14 Days. Rodale Inc

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