Free shipping on orders over $25

Compost Bin Tips and FAQs

Composting is exciting because you’re not only doing something good for the environment. You’re also ensuring the health of your garden! And who doesn’t want to get nearly unlimited access to high-quality compost?

Organic fertilizers like compost aren’t exactly cheap so it’s nice that you can make something useful out of your kitchen wastes to use or sell. But before we get into that, let’s talk about compost bins - what’s the best size for one, what style to get, and what turning techniques to use to speed up the composting process. We’ll answer these questions and more with this guide!

Frequently Asked Questions About Compost Bins

ecogardener compost bin

Whether you’re buying a composter or making your own compost in the backyard, we know you have lots of questions! Below, we try to answer some of the most asked questions of gardeners about composting and compost bins.

How big a composter should I buy?

The size of a compost bin, how big or small it is, how deep it is, will affect the speed at which microbes break down organic matter. That's why it's important to know the ideal size of a compost bin before getting one. The sweet spot is about 3 feet high, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.

The compost bin should hold twice the volume of the finished compost that you want so there's extra space for the materials as they break down. If the ideal size of a compost bin is not enough for your gardening needs, try getting another bin. You should also track the amount of kitchen and yard waste that your household generates in a month just so you'll create enough compost for your needs.

Which is better - vertically mounted on the axle or horizontally mounted?

compost bin and compost bin tumbler

It really depends on your needs and personal preferences. A vertical compost is a bin that's affixed vertically around a horizontal axle. The design enables you to turn the container using a turning mechanism instead of turning the compost by hand. It's a great design if space is an issue.

A vertical compost is compact so it's suitable for small living spaces. However, it doesn’t hold a lot of compost. This could get frustrating really quickly if you need more compost for soil amendments. Also, it’s harder to turn the composter if it’s filled to the brim. It’s not the most durable design.

A horizontal composter is similar in design to a vertical composter but it is set horizontally. This makes the composter shorter compared to a vertical composter - a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preference.

Just like a vertical composter, a horizontal composter can be rolled to turn the compost. It’s a great composter if you have more space to spare for composting. But just like the vertical composter, the horizontal composter does not hold a lot of compost. And if you added too many organic materials into the container, there’s the risk of damaging the mechanism that lets you roll it.

A traditional compost bin, such as the one offered at our store, makes a great alternative for gardeners looking for a durable compost bin that will last for years. The compost bin may not have all the bells and whistles, but it could hold as much as 80 gallons of organic waste. The bottom keeps the compost in contact with the ground so beneficial critters have complete access to the organic waste. This will speed up the breakdown of organic materials while also improving the quality of the compost.

Should I set my composter in the direct sunlight?

As long as the composter is made from a durable material that resists UV damage, go ahead and set it in a spot that gets a lot of sun. Direct sunlight is beneficial to the compost; it will speed up the breakdown of organic materials. When the temperature rises, the microbes and fungi in the compost will work faster at breaking down the organic wastes.

That said, you need to keep the moisture level in check if you set the composter in the sun. Monitor the compost, making sure that the texture remains moist but never wet. If it looks and feels dry, add the appropriate amount of water.

Should I add water to my compost?

compost leaves and fruits

Only when it’s needed, yes. Moisture is a critical part of the breakdown process, but the amount should be just right. If the compost is too dry, the temperature rises, killing the microbes that are breaking down the composting materials. If the compost is too wet, the microbes could drown. Too much or too little water will affect the speed at which the organic materials are broken down.

If the compost pile is too wet, turn it or spread it on top of a tarp and under direct sunlight. This will dry out the compost materials. Another technique is to add wooden materials into a too-wet compost heap. Solve common composting issues with this guide.

How often should I spin my compost tumbler?

It depends on the size of the compost tumbler, but you should spin it three to four times a week. Check if the compost mix is damp, never too wet nor too dry. If the tumbler is too heavy, set it on a level area before spinning so it won't break and cause the whole mix to spill all over the place.

My compost tumbler is too heavy to spin, what should I do?

compost tumbler

If your compost tumbler is too heavy, it means you are loading it to its total capacity. This might strain the mechanism that holds the tumbler for spinning. Also, if the tumbler is too heavy, spinning it will take a lot of elbow grease.

If this is a recurring issue, we suggest getting another tumbler and splitting the compost materials between these composters just to lighten the load. Or make only a small batch of compost so you won’t end up breaking an expensive new tumbler. A better alternative would be to get a traditional and high-capacity compost bin like the ECO Gardener Heavy Duty Outdoor Compost bin.

A single bin could hold as much as 80 gallons of organic wastes. It is crafted from recycled and durable plastic material so that you can make a massive batch of compost in one go. Yes, you’ll turn in the compost materials manually, daily, or regularly but that’s just a small price to pay for a large batch of compost.

How can I add fresh materials when waiting for a batch to finish?

compost leaves and fruits

The passive method of composting takes a year or so before organic materials are broken down completely. Adding fresh materials into the compost will slow down the breakdown even further, so that's one thing to keep in mind before giving cold composting a try.

To add fresh materials into the compost, shred the materials into smaller pieces. Using a pitchfork, work the new materials into the compost until thoroughly mixed in. Check the moisture level.

My compost is a wet, soggy mess and doesn’t seem to be composting; what should I do?

If your compost is too soggy, try adding wood and paper materials into the mix. This should help absorb the excess moisture while maintaining the balance between green and brown materials. If this does not work, get a tarp and spread the soggy compost into an even layer. Let it lay under the sun until the excess water evaporates, then bring the compost back into the bin or pile.

Are you ready to give composting a shot? Making a compost pit is easy; just; give it a spin and see why it’s one of our bestsellers!

A photo of Ecogardener Compost Bin.