About Composting Bins

Overview

Compost bins are a useful tool for the home gardener. Waste from garden and kitchen can be placed in a bin and, in time, a wonderful garden fertilizer will be produced. Compost bins can be homemade or purchased at a store or online. Just a little bit of work will provide a home gardener with enough compost to work a garden for the year. It is economical and helps the environment.

Compost Piles

Before bins were produced, home gardeners would set aside a corner of the yard for a compost pile. Some gardeners still do this, but today there are so many other options that make the pile look neater. Compost bins allow the gardener to add kitchen scraps that would otherwise attract vermin. The purpose of a compost pile is to decompose natural materials and turn it into an additive that supplies a multitude of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to the garden. Compost bins are easy to construct and many commercially built bins are inexpensive and easy to use.

Recommended Number of Bins

Most of the time, a home gardener can get away with just one compost bin. Many gardeners insist that they need more than one. One will contain new compost and another will contain compost that has decomposed enough to use, but the truth is, one is sufficient for a home garden. If the compost is aerated regularly there should be no problem getting to the older compost to use in the garden.

Enclosed Bins

Enclosed bins are often made of plastic that is pierced with air holes to let oxygen in to the compost. The enclosed nature keeps rain from infiltrating the compost and will keep large vermin out. Enclosed bins are low maintenance. The compost inside will need to be mixed up occasionally, but otherwise there is nothing to do but add the raw materials. The only problem is because they are not aerated, it can take up to six months to two years to get good compost.

Tumbling Bins

Tumbling bins are a more expensive, but may be a worthwhile purchase. They are enclosed, usually in a cylindrical shape and are attached to an apparatus that allows the bin to be turned and rolled. Tumblers are great for those who do not have a great deal of space in their yard. Aeration is good and a pitch fork is not needed to move the compost around so it rots evenly. Just crank a handle every so often and it is done. Tumbling speeds up decomposition. The only problem with tumbling bins is that they tend to fill up too fast.

Roller Bins

Roller bins are round, like ball, with a lid on top and air holes all around. They are made of lightweight plastic. The objective is to roll the bin around the yard to aerate the compost. This type of bin can be rolled to an area where the garden waste is and then rolled to the site where the compost will be used. Often, the bin gets too heavy to roll.

Home Made Bins

Chicken wire bins are one of the simplest bins you can make, and they work well. While they're not always attractive, they are effective. They're made with a simple frame of posts, surrounded by chicken wire. You will need to turn the contents with a pitchfork every week. Snow fence makes an adequate compost bin. This uses 4-foot tall posts, wrapped with snow fence. The spaces in the fence allow the compost to have proper air circulation for faster decomposition.

Wooden Bin Warning

Many gardeners are handy with wood and make wooden bins. These look nice in the back yard and hold a great deal of compost. Avoid treated lumber if you're making a wooden compost bin. Pressure-treated wood often contains arsenic and this is an unwanted contaminant that can be transferred to the garden from the compost.

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About this Author

Deborah Harding has been writing for nine years. Beginning with cooking and gardening magazines, Harding then produced a gardening and cooking newsletter and website called Prymethyme Herbs in 1998. Published books include "Kidstuff" and "Green Guide to Herb Gardening." She has a Bachelor of Music from Youngstown State University and sings professionally.