How to choose the right composter?

Topics Discussed

What should I look for in a composter?

Choosing the right composter involves a culmination of factors including:

  • Composter Drainage

Drainage is a fundamental factor to consider when choosing a composter, since water and air movement play a decisive role in how successful your compost will be. The absence of air and water flow will result in a slower composting process as well as a substandard compost. 

  • Composter Weight

Ideally, a composter that isn’t impossible to turn/lift makes life much easier. In particular, it should be possible to rotate tumble composters when fully loaded with waste.

  • Composter Length

A composter that’s too tall/high can also be very inconvenient for more senior or smaller people. When filling a composter with waste, it can become a demanding task if the entrance to the composter is very high up. This should be considered before purchasing a composter.

  • Access Opening/Panels

The size and location of access panels is worth considering in terms of both spade size (i.e. so that your spade can fit into the composter). Composters that include opening panels are usually designed to allow entry to fertilized or finished compost. 

  • Composter Opener/Lid

Although this point overlaps with the length/height of the coposter discussed above, other considerations to look out for when choosing a compost lid are to make sure that your preferred garden tools are able to enter in and out without any issues.

  • Rodent Prevention

Making sure that your composter is compact and tightly closed helps to ensure that no rodents or unwanted animals enter your compost bin.

What are the best composters for beginners?

It is important to have a basic idea of the main types of composters in order to establish what you are trying to achieve in terms of composing. Here is a basic overview of some of the most common composter types:

  • Indoor Composters

Although not so popular, indoor composting can be achieved however yields less compost output. Despite this, indoor composting can be very convenient for people living in urban spaces with less garden space available. Indoor composters (along with worm bins), can help to convert kitchen waste into compost.

  • Compost Tumblers

Composting tumblers are a popular choice as they:

  • Their easiness to maintain
  • Their ability to work very efficiently during summer months, as a result of moisture retention and insulation
  • Their efficiency to produce a large volume of compost
  • Due to the structural differences, composting tumblers may be a solution to composting in a rat infested area
  • Composting tumblers tend to produce quicker compost

  • Continuous Composters

According to the Ground Network, “Continuous composting means not waiting around until you have a large stack of greens and browns, but instead placing your waste directly into a compost just as they’ve been used.”

Make sure to place your continuous composter on a level surface, near to where you expect to use your materials you plan to compost. For best results apply a layer of materials rich in carbon (such as leaves or paper) to the base of your continuous composters and remember to apply organic waste on a regular basis. 

Which compost bin size should you choose?

When choosing your compost bin size, there is a simple equation to establish the output that you would like to produce.

If you multiply the size (length and width) of your compost bin by the depth of compost per square foot, the answer will indicate the required volume of compost needed. However, as compost breaks down/decomposes it loses approximately half of its volume.

Therefore if you multiply your previous answer again by two, you’ll be able to establish the required amount of space for your compost bin.

In simpler terms: required compost bin volume = 2*(area of garden)*(depth of compost).

Should composters be placed in the sun or shade?

Either is acceptable, however there are considerations or differences in process that arise as a result of either placement, such as:

  • Direct sunlight may result in dryer compost piles (look to maintain moisture when temperatures rise, and avoid overheating)
  • With direct sunlight comes higher temperatures, resulting in a quicker overall composting process as a result of fungi and bacteria working faster
  • A shaded placement brings benefits in the form of added protection through adverse weather conditions such as rain and wind during storms
  • Despite that, shaded placement may negatively affect air and water flow due to cooler conditions

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