Composter Buying Guide
What is a Composter?
A composter is a bin or container that is used to turn organic yard waste and food waste into compost. There are many different styles, types, shapes and sizes of composters on the market.
The best way to determine the best choice for your gardening needs is to know exactly what you are going to be using the compost for, how large the areas are that you will need compost for and how much waste you think you will generate. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to tackle composting, take a look at these benefits that you can enjoy by getting a composter and making your own compost to use.
- When you compost, there is a reduction in the amount of waste you are just throwing away. If you are environmentally conscious, you would be happy to know that composting reduces your carbon footprint because of this reduction in waste
- If you plant flowers, have a home garden, container or in the ground, or have plants, having rich, organic compost can make a real difference in the quality of the vegetables you grow and the flowers that bloom. Composting provides you with that valuable and rich compost.
- The reduction in waste means less trash that you are throwing away. This means using less trash bags as well which saves money as well as reduces the amount of plastic that is thrown away. It is very easy to compost and it can be done virtually anywhere by anyone.
- If you are worried about the earth we are leaving to future generations, composting is a way to improve the soil for generations to come. Don’t think of it in terms of just you not being able to make a difference. Every little bit DOES help and others may see what you are doing and decide to copy your example.
Types of Composters
There are several different styles and types of composters that consumers can choose from. If you are looking for a good composter, read below to learn about the different styles that are available.
Enclosed Stationary Composters – This type of composter is covered on all sides and is not moved from its spot. These composters have holes or slots in the sides that let in nitrogen-rich air and oxygen inside to seep into the waste that is composting.
With a stationary composter like this, the waste needs to be turned manually with a rake or shovel to ensure that the microorganisms that are composting are spread evenly throughout the waste inside.
Worm Composters – Earthworms are a popular way of composting. If a gardener is using earthworms to do the composting, they will start by getting a bed of shredded newspaper; add earthworms and then organic waste to the bin. The worms that are put into the composter will eat the newspaper and waste, producing compost that is very rich in worm excrement.
This type of compost is an excellent to use as a fertilizer for vegetables, plants, flowers and herb gardens. Some of the worm bin composters have multiple levels which allow the worms to move from one level to another to aide in faster and more efficient harvesting.
- Turning/Tumbling Composters – The turning composter comes in all sizes and is a barrel or bin that has a crank mount that is on a frame. This allows the user to turn the compost and mix it well. This ensures that the microorganisms feast and produce the valuable compost. One the bin has been filled, they will be turned every so often according to the instructions. Do not ass new waste to these composters until the existing compost has completed the cycle.
- Rolling Composters – These round containers are designed to be able to accept the yard waste that you want to get rid of. A rolling composter does not have a base that a crank is attached to. The rolling composter is literally rolled to mix the compost. The rolling composter needs more room to be used properly.
There are many different materials that composters are made out of. Large amounts are made out of heavy duty plastic many of which are made from recycled materials. Other composters may be made from wood, terra cotta pottery, mesh wire and metal. It is recommended that the composter you choose has a lid to keep insects and other pests out of it.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Composter
There are several different factors to consider when you start shopping for a composter. Some of the things a consumer should consider are listed below.
- How much Space Do You Have? – If you live on some property or have a large yard you will have more space to create a composter than if you live in the city and just have a balcony to work with. Determine how much space you have to work with before you purchase a composter so you get one that works with the space you have.
- Where does the waste come from? – If you are just one person or a couple, there will not be as much waste as there would if you are a family of 4-6 members. How much waste you will be generating will be a factor in how much compostable waste you have to work with.
- Type of Composting – Do you want to use traditional composting with a pile in a composter that is turned periodically or do you want to try your hand at worm composting? The type of composting you are interested in doing will play a large part in the type of composter you need.
What Type of Composting Bin is Best?
We have compiled a list of the most common places that people live with the kind of composting and the type of bin that fits the space and type the best. This information will help you determine the right composter for your needs. These suggestions are not written in stone, but they are a good guideline to start with.
- Apartments – A standard composting method is best – An enclosed composter in the kitchen or on the patio.
- House with a Small Yard – A standard composting method – An enclosed bin outdoors or a bin that fits on your patio or back porch.
- House with a Large Yard – A standard composting method – Use a large outdoor enclosed composter or a composter that tumbles or turns. A rolling composter will work as well.
- Any House or Apartment and Yard Size – Worm composting – Choose a worm composter that correlates with the space you have to work with.
Many of the smaller composters work just fine, right inside the kitchen. Some of the indoor use compost bins are electric and have electric motors that will do the turning for you. Regardless of the size of your home or yard, there is a composter that will fit your needs.
Stages of Composting
There are three stages of composting that the waste will go through. Patience is definitely a factor in some composting. For example, cold composting can take as long as two years to be finished and ready to use. If you don’t want to wait that long you will need to keep the compost pile moist by adding water to it on a regular basis and turn it more often which will speed the composting process up.
- Mesophilic Stage – The first stage of composting is the mesophilic stage. This is where the waste is first heaped together in the composter. The core temperature starts to rise during this stage and microorganisms will begin forming colonies. These colonies will start to multiply inside the compost pile. This stage is short, lasting less than a week. You will notice that your compost pile will settle or sag during this time. You will know you’ve reached the second stage when the pile sags or settles.
Thermophilic Phase – The compost will now reach the 140 degree temperature mark that it needs. At this temperature, the seeds that are from weeds are destroyed, any harmful bacteria are killed off and the pile will start breaking down quickly. This stage can be expedited by ensuring that the compost pile stays damp. A good rule of thumb is to keep it as damp as a wrung out sponge.
Also make sure that there is enough air to reach the core of the compost pile. Turn the pile once or twice during the Thermophilic Phase will get oxygen to the center. Spray the pile with you garden hose. You can expect this stage to last about 3 months but that will depend on the size of the pile and the amount of attention you give to it. The type of composter also determines how long this stage lasts.
Cooling Stage – This is the final stage of composting. During this stage, the final humus will be mature and the pile settles into a uniform mix that is ready to be spread wherever you want. The cooling stage can take up to 4 months. You will know that your compost is ready to use when it is a rich, dark brown in color, smells very earthy and is free of large pieces of debris.
It will have a very crumbly consistency. Turn the compost occasionally during this stage and avoid adding new waste to this pile. Start a new one if you need to. Some composters have two sides where you can be curing one while adding to the other.
Composting has been around for a long time and there are many fantastic benefits to having your own compost. Not only will you reduce your waste, you will help the environment and also create gorgeous vegetables, plants and flowers with the rich fertilizer that you have created.
Many people mistakenly think that composting is difficult. Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of composters that you can create your very own compost very easily. You will enjoy watching your flowers, plants and vegetables flourish and grow at a wonderful rate, knowing that you created the fertilizer that helped them grow the best they can.