Best Compost Bin

wepeeler(5)June 12, 2011

Hello all,

I am new to these forums and a relatively new gardener. I recently bought a new home, pulled all out the unsightly evergreen shrubs out front and planted a flower garden. I had great success last year, and this year it's looking even better.

I had a question about composting. I know that compost can be a wonderful addition to any garden, and I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation on a compost bin. I am looking for something "simple" and effective. Are rotating better than static bins? Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Thanks in advance...

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Wire bin is simple and effective. Tumblers have their pros and cons.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 10:09PM
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Lloyd is right, That is probably the least expensive /best use of space/bin system in use.
Of Course you did notice how EXTRA LARGE his wire bins are in relation to that Full size Hummer in the background of his pic...;-)

My NEW Garage door LID for my bins ;-) (notice the garage door handle in the middle ;-)

Least Expensive Pile (just a pile ;-)

(might as well make it do some growing while it is just laying there/composting ;-)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 11:50PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I love my Biostack bins.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 2:00PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

jonhughes: In the pile in your last photo, did you plant those as seeds or plants? I would like to sow some bean, pea, swiss chard, and sunflower seeds in my lasagna beds, but I plan to add more layers and wonder how the seeds will like the uncomposted layers.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Hi jenn,
Some people say there are issues, but so far, I haven't seen any..... that doesn't mean there won't be, but the way I figure it, it doesn't cost much to put in a few plants and see what happens, if it does well, I am blessed, if it doesn't....I learned a valuable lesson, either way, it's all good, I would say...Go for it. ;-)

BTW... This pile has 1500 lbs on fresh cabbage leaves in the center of it, so I would say it is lasagna...ish ;-)

All the cabbage that you can see still in the beds, were tossed onto the pile also,...

Then I covered up the cabbage with 6 yards of my homemade compost and planted into that.....

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 3:01PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

WOW!!! That's an amazing pile.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 3:07PM
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Hey Jon, with that 'lid' on your bins, you can rent them out as apartments or something! ;-)


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 3:45PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

I didn't like my ComposTumbler and got rid of it. It rolled the compost into balls which had to be broken up, and it was harder to control than just a container. Right now I'm using two 50 gallon tubs drilled with drainage holes. I fill one up and when it's time to turn, I turn it into the other one. I have a small space so this keeps things contained.

I really like the design of the Earth Machine. It's way overpriced as are so many other 'green' things. Some municipalities can offer them for much much less though. I know of someone who doesn't care to use compost but just dumps her yard and kitchen waste into the earth machine. The bottom has some really good compost that she doesn't use. I'm sure the soil under that thing is really good and rich.

Depending on how much compost you want and how actively you want to work at it, there are a variety of options that you can investigate to see what will fit your situation best. Below is a link to another way to do passive composting. It's part of a website with lots of info all about composting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Ingestion

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:27PM
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I got my earth machine free from the city of Gilbert. I haven't used it yet but plan to move my compost material from my tumbler to that when I have enough to start another load.

I bought the lifetime 80 gallon compost tumbler from Costco and it seems to be working okay. I have never made compost before though so it's hard for me to compare it to anything else. My thought is that the design of it might prevent the balls that haname is describing above. It's not round, more triangular, and the inside walls are...I can't think of the right word...textured. When you turn it, the material falls against the bar in the middle. I haven't really seen any balls yet.

My challenge now is to find enough material. We have hardly any leaves. We plan to get a paper shredder and shred every bit of paper we can. I also have been cutting up cardboard with a boxcutter which is really tedious.

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:34PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Apex that's nice Gilbert gives out earth machines! Here in Phoenix we can get the top half of a trash or recycle can to use as a home composter. That's probably fine if you don't want easy access to finished product. If you just want a better way to get rid of waste so it doesn't go into the landfill it's fine I guess. Everyone looking into a bin might want to check their city or town website to see what they have to offer.

Sounds like your tumbler has a much better design which corrected some of the problems the earlier ones had. That's good news. My old tumbler did have a bar in the middle but all it really did was catch stringy stuff. :) Sounds like yours works great!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:49PM
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There is no one "best" composter for anyone because it depends on what each person wants. A 30 gallon composter may be okay for an apartment dweller with a few pots, but will not be enough to supply a garden that is 10 x 20. One person may find it difficult to fill a 4 x 4 x 4 compost bin while a family of 4 might find that is not enough capacity.
Spending more than about $100.00 for a composter may well be a waste of money.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 6:39AM
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kimmsr is correct. There is no one size fits all solution.

Do you currently have any material for the compost pile? Good news is that there is a post on here about a guy that had success with a 5 gallon bucket. Maybe that's where you should start?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:41PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

It may help to identify what your needs are and go from there.

Here in windy, dry NM, the mesh bins do not work for me because I would have to water them every day. But they do fill the need of cheap and effective. I considered a method of building some from used pallets (easy) but they are closer to my neighbor's house and I am sure that they would not like to look at it.

So I have been using the soil saver that can be purchased at Sam's Club for $40. I now have 2. To turn these piles I just move the bin over and shovel in. It does not dry out as quickly as a mesh pile for me. I also took an old garbage can and drilled holes into it. My method for this right now is once it is filled, I dump it into one of the other bins, which turns it and also helps when I send kids out with the compost, they know to just throw it in the garbage can. I hope to purchase one more soil saver by the end of the season. My concern with a tumbling bin was mechanics. Eventually something on it would break and I would much prefer to spend my time gardening than fixing things (there are way too many things to fix in this household).

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:51PM
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Yes, I was pleased to learn about the free earth machine program. As for the tumbler, it seems to be working well. The material is starting to look like 50% compost after 4 weeks. I also did some poking around with a trench shovel and did find a few balls so maybe they didn't solve the problem completely. For the most part the material seems to break up fairly well though. There was a point where it was starting to smell like amonia so I added what little leaves and paper I had and turned it. Seems to be okay now.

I probably only filled 2/3 of the container and it definitely feels warm but not what I would call hot. Next time I will try to fill it all the way to see if I canget the heat up with some additional mass.

My only complaint about the tumbler was the amount of assembly required. There was a lot of drilling and manual screwing involved.

Now to just find a steady supply of brown material! I would like to fill the earth machine. The funny thing is that I haven't even built a raised bed yet.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 12:34PM
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ApexAZ 9b (My Page) on Wed, Jun 15, 11 at 12:34
Now to just find a steady supply of brown material!

How about shredded newspaper?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:39AM
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Wow, you guys are awesome. I was waiting for an email response to let me know I had replies, but it never came. I figured no one loved me, but when I logged in I saw 15 replies! THANKS!

I think I may start with a soil saver. Seems easy, compact and will fit nicely into the back corner of my yard. I wish I had the space for the BIN system, as that looks amazing, but my garden isn't even that large yet!

Right now, I'm only looking to get 40-50 lbs of compost by this time next year. I'm guessing the Soilsaver will do that as long as I do my part ie turn it, add the right "stuff"

Is there anything I need to know to get started?


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 12:05PM
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Yes. We've started saving all the paper we can and I plan to buy a cross cut shredder soon. We also just subscribed to the sunday paper so I expect that will contribute a lot to our browns.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 12:27PM
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