Thinking of going beyond the usual compost pile and giving compost bins a try? A compost bin is a space-efficient alternative to the traditional compost pile, which is essentially a hole in the ground. You can turn kitchen scraps into organic fertilizer with a compost bin even if you don’t have a yard or don’t have much space for composting.
You already know how to build a compost pile, but what about making compost using tumblers and bins? It’s surprisingly easy; continue reading below to find out how.
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Types of Enclosed Compost Bin Systems
DIY Compost Bin
The most inexpensive compost bin system is a DIY compost bin. Essentially, you’ll turn a large, heavy-duty bin or bucket (like a garbage can) into a compost container.
Build the compost bin: To build the compost bin, drill about 1.5-cm aeration holes at 15 cm intervals around the can and the bottom. Set the compost bin in the desired spot in the garden. You can choose to set the compost bin to its side or upright.
Next, sort the green and brown organic waste and add alternately in layers. Turn the organic wastes occasionally to prevent anaerobic pockets and speed up the breakdown of the composting materials.
Commercial Compost Bin
Also known as digesters, commercially sold compost bins have enclosed sides and top as well as an open bottom so the container can be set directly on the ground. A ready-to-use compost bin has many advantages. For one thing, it’s incredibly space-efficient, yet it holds a lot. The bins are inexpensive, durable, and reusable, so they’re eco-friendly too.
A compost bin is ideal for urban areas because the enclosed container discourages pests and minimizes odor problems. However, the material is made of plastic, which could weaken when set in direct sunlight for an extended period. To get the most out of your money, invest in a heavy-duty compost bin made with long-lasting materials like the ECOgardener Outdoor Compost Bin. This product is made from durable recycled material and is designed specifically for outdoor composting.
It has a latch-on lid and is easy to open the bottom hatch to release the compost. It’s compact yet holds as much as 80 gallons of materials. The ECOgardener Outdoor Compost bin is versatile; it will suit all types of gardens.
Build the compost bin: A commercially-made compost bin has several components that simply snap into place. The ECOgardener compost bin assembles in minutes without any tools. Just clip the pieces together and set the compost bin in your preferred spot in the garden. That's it. Once set, you can start layering the brown and green organic materials for composting. This compost bin holds up to 80 gallons of materials and will produce compost in as little as 6 weeks.
A compost tumbler is similar to a compost bin, but it is set to its sides. A mechanism lets you roll or tumble the container for easy and convenient aeration. This kind of compost system generates and maintains high heat because the small space acts as insulation. Turning the compost tumbler ensures that the microbes are aerated and active. Some compost tumblers have built-in aeration spikes or paddles to boost air circulation and prevent the organic materials from compacting. Others have holes at each end to improve air circulation and speed up the composting process.
The design of the compost tumbler is no doubt revolutionary, but it’s not perfect. For one thing, compost tumblers are tiny. Tumbling the container takes a lot of elbow grease, and if the bin is too big, you can’t turn the compost without damaging the rolling mechanism of the tumbler. That’s the reason why most compost tumblers could only hold minimal compost materials.
Compost tumblers are sealed, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Since the system is closed, it can’t be accessed by pests such as rodents and raccoons. However, this also means that beneficial garden creatures, like earthworms, cannot access the compost. Tumblers often rely on high heat to break down the microbes but having beneficial creatures to help out will improve the quality of the soil even more.
Because the tumblers are elevated, the compost materials are not in contact with the soil. Again, this will affect the time it takes for the compost to break down. In addition, moisture ends up dripping all over, which might attract some pests. But if you live in closed, residential areas, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Build the compost bin: Depending on the brand, assembling a compost tumbler will take a few minutes and may require specific tools. Here’s a tutorial on how to build a compost tumbler.
How To Make Compost Using Tumblers and Bins
Composting using tumblers and bins is easy; just gather all the organic materials you’ll use and sort them by two elements: nitrogen or green materials and carbon or brown materials. Different types of kitchen scraps have different carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, and just to get it right the first time, we’ve made a composting cheat sheet.
Once you’ve sorted out the green and brown materials for composting, you have to layer these in your tumbler or bin. Mix three parts of brown materials to one part of green materials. Every time you add kitchen scraps into the bin or tumbler, you need to get the proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen. For example, if you’re adding extra grass clippings (green material) to the compost, add the appropriate amount of brown materials too.
Apart from getting the nitrogen and carbon ratio right, you need air and water to support the breakdown of composting materials. You need to turn the bin or tumbler several times per week to aerate the compost. Monitor the moisture level, the compost should never be soggy, or the microbes that break down the compost will drown. Shoot for a 40% to 60% moisture level; the compost should be damp but never wet.
If the kitchen scraps do not seem to be breaking down, the compost could be low on nitrogen. Go ahead and add more green to the mix but make sure to keep the whole thing moist. If the compost starts to smell and you’re seeing maggots or fly larvae, it’s a sign that the compost is low on carbon. Add more brown compost into the mix and turn the compost often to keep maggots and foul odors away.
When the compost pile has turned crumbly, black and you no longer see bits and pieces of composting materials, it is ready to use as a fertilizer. Now you can use it to top dress your plants, fertilize growing plants, and amend the soil for planting!
Composting is easy, and it becomes almost effortless with a compost bin. Our compost bin is designed for outdoor use. It is durable and guaranteed to last for years. Check out our store for all your gardening and composting needs.