Early composters did not pile up their compost or leave it in bins. Instead, they put a mixture of manure and hay directly on gardens and fields. Modern compost advocates refined their practices to the point that they use the compost pile as a tool to break down organic wastes into a loam that is rich in nutrients. They control this process and speed it up with the use of a compost bin. The best style of compost bin depends on your available space and particular needs.
Homemade Pallet Bin
A homemade pallet bin, or a bin system with three or more bins, is a good choice for home gardeners who produce a large quantity of kitchen wastes, grass clippings, dead leaves or garden leavings. These bins are filled with organic material and then left for long-term decomposition. A composter can also turn a bin every few days to quickly reduce the compost to a soil state. This type of bin is inexpensive to make, because you can construct it out of donated pallets or skids. For this reason, it is one of the most commonly created bins.
A compost maker can purchase a tumbler bin from specialty manufacturers or make one from a drum, garbage can, rain barrel or other round container. Some manufacturers make tumblers that are large and can compost a lot of organic material at once. Homebrew tumblers are inexpensive and may achieve the same results on a smaller scale. Depending on how a composter fashions his bin, a homemade tumbler may not stir the compost as effectively or may be more cumbersome to use.
Most stacking bins are manufactured, although you can also make a homebrew version of this bin out of wire and wood. This type of bin is ideal for small spaces, because its bulk is vertical instead of horizontal. Owners of homes where the organic waste is minimal are the ones who use manufactured varieties of stacking bins. To use a stacking bin, put scraps in the top bin of the container. As the scraps break down, they sift downward through secondary and tertiary chambers until all that is left is loam at the bottom of the container. You can turn compost in homemade versions by unstacking your bin tower and redistributing the contents among bins. Most manufactured varieties have a turner with a handle built in for stirring the compost in the primary chamber inside the bin.
A worm farm is the least labor-intensive and most compact compost bin you can create. When a worm farmer manages her bin correctly, no odors are present. For this reason, composting experts recommend worm farming for apartment dwellers and people who garden in small spaces. The worm farm consists of a bin filled with worms and a bedding such as damp, shredded newspaper. Worm farmers place kitchen scraps in the bedding. The worms eat the scraps daily and transform them into usable soil. When the bin is full of dirt, the worm farmer screens out the worms and the dirt. She then puts the worms back into the bin and uses the dirt for compost.