Home Composting Guide
Serious gardeners have always understood the value of a well-developed compost pile, its use documented throughout thousands of years of history. Not only does it provide exceptional nutrition to growing plants by restoring poor soils, it also naturally reduces the need for harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Unfortunately, compost can take quite a bit of time and effort to “ripen” and prepare for use – sometimes up to an entire year before it’s ready to work into the soil. There are multiple ways to accelerate the process including working in blood meal, bone meal, or alfalfa meal, animal manure, human compost accelerator, or homemade concoctions - or you can simply add in a compost activator and get the same results without the hassle.
Generally when compost breaks down slowly it is high in carbon (dried leaves) and lacks essential nutrients, usually nitrogen (greens). Compost activators are essentially made up of nitrogen rich ingredients and work to accelerate the composting process by providing any missing nutrients needed to develop the pile. They can help speed up the process and have compost ready to use in as little as 30-90 days. In addition to nutrient imbalance, your pile may also require a compost activator in cooler weather to help maintain the heat necessary for the pile to develop. If speeding up the process by several months isn’t enough, compost activators can also assist in creating a better smelling pile.
When choosing a compost activator, it’s important to consider what it’s made of. Some activators are full of chemicals and if you’ve been working to grow your own organic product, it would quickly diminish your efforts. You’ll want to choose an activator that is organic itself and free of chemicals and toxins. All of the organisms should be tested safe and biodegradable to ensure the best results.
Worm composting is the practice of using worms to eat food scraps and other natural materials which are then digested into a valuable soil nutrient known as worm compost, or vermicompost. The process is actually quite simple: the worms eat the food scraps and those become compost as they break down through the worm’s body and exit as castings, or worm manure. This compost is nutrient-rich and can be used to enrich soil and nourish plant life by turning those messy food scraps that would otherwise go to waste into rich, crumbly, black compost.
Worm composting is ideal for apartment dwellers or those with little or no outdoor space since a worm compost bin takes up much less room than other composting methods and many are even odorless. Worm compost bins offer the perfect conditions in which to harvest this rich compost. Most bins consist of multiple stacking trays and as worms finish digesting the scraps in one tray they move up to the next level in search of more food. Simply empty the finished castings out for use in your garden and refill the tray to continue the cycle. Some worm compost bins also include an additional tray for compost tea and many have the option of adding additional trays if you want to obtain even more of this rich compost.
Worms require a moderate working temperature between 50 and 80 degrees allowing worm composting to be done outdoors during warmer seasons or indoors year-round. The worms work quickly and can convert most kitchen scraps into valuable compost in less than two weeks. Conveniently, they are self-regulating and can double in number every three months but will never overpopulate your bin.
Made from black recycled plastic, the Earth Machine Compost Bin composts up to 80 gallons of materials at one time. Its twist-locking pest-resistant lid prevents rodents or bugs from contaminating and digging in the contents of the bin. The slats along the side allow for increased oxygen flow to your compost to help speed up the breakdown process. Materials are inserted at the top, and compost is removed through a locking harvest door at the bottom of the barrel. Because of its conical shape, the compost pile can be accessed easily from any direction!
The Earth Machine Compost Bin is great for both the active and passive composting persons. All you have to do is just start filling the bin, water, and occasionally mix the composters contents. Quality, finished compost is ready in 4 to 6 months.
Some assembly will be necessary to begin using the Earth Machine – four screw pegs secure it to the ground to hold it in place, yet the Earth Machine requires no maintenance. Compost is created without any turning of the barrel, and there is no need to aerate the contents manually. A ten-year warranty guarantees the long life this barrel was built to maintain.
The Tumbling Composter is an innovative way to generate plenty of high-quality compost quickly and easily. It is designed to require minimal work and time in order to produce rich compost, made possible by features such as built-in churning paddles and aerating vents. Both of these features ensure that the compost materials receive plenty of oxygen to speed the process. For best compost results, this composter should only be rotated one to two revolutions every few days.
The durable black bin has a capacity of 6 cubic feet and its rodent-free design will keep the contents protected from pests. A sliding door allows for easy access when adding materials or removing compost. It also enables separate batches of compost to develop simultaneously so that a new batch can be started while another is nearing completion. This is a great feature, because it means that there will always be compost ready to use.
The Tumbling Composter is an ideal choice when using kitchen waste and green materials. The best results are achieved when these materials are combined with paper or cardboard to increase the carbon content. Compost activator works especially well with compost tumblers – it helps breaks down materials and add nutrients to the materials and is a worthwhile investment when purchasing a composter.
Some simple assembly steps will be required when the compost tumbler arrives before it is ready for use, but once it is installed, the only maintenance required will be turning the tumbler every few days. This compost tumbler is built to last and covered by a 90-day warranty to protect all parts and workmanship.
The Achla Compost Barrel is made of eco-friendly, long-lasting recycled plastic and has a capacity of 52 gallons. The purchase of this compost bin also includes a stand to keep the bin off the ground, preventing excess moisture and protecting the lawn beneath.
The contents of the barrel are accessed conveniently through the 12-inch twist-off lid, which doubles as protection from animals. Air vents and a two-way breather on the lid allow air to keep flowing through the barrel to accelerate the composting process. The EZ Composter Jr. is made of 100% recycled plastic, and it arrives in two pieces for a fast and easy installation. The quality of the EZ Composter Jr. is backed by a one-year limited warranty on all parts and the manufacturing of the product.
The Vinyl Garden Compost Bin is both attractive and functional. It is the ideal size for composting and you don’t have to worry about any awful smells being released into the air. This vinyl compost bin will not be an eye sore in any yard with its simple, sleek, and modern look.
The Vinyl Garden Compost Bin – which if made right here in the U.S.A - features removable front rails and handle cutouts that make it much easier to handle when adding and removing compost.
The bin is constructed of the highest quality vinyl, which contains a very high concentration of Titanium Dioxide. Titanium Dioxide is a powerful UV stabilizer that prevents the bin from the sun’s harmful rays. You will never need to worry about any cracking, peeling, or rotting. This is great because it never needs to be painted, stained, or sealed. It’s practically maintenance free!
The Vinyl Garden Compost Bin will make a great addition to any backyard. Once you have your composter, you will start saving money by using your own scraps and yard waste to make compost. Since compost is considered one of the best soil additives and one of nature’s best mulches, it will help you to have your greenest garden to date!
The Terra Composter is one of the highest quality made composters on the market today. It’s comprised from roto molded plastic that is built to last you a lifetime. This plastic is very durable and lightweight - you will never have to worry about it cracking or fading.
The Terra Composter has a 45 gallon capacity and is a complete system that comes with its own mixing shovel and storage case. There is a locking lid that helps to preserve the contents and holes for aeration that help to move the break down process along quicker.
To install your Terra Composter, you will need to find an area that is solid and flat. It’s also important that it is placed in a location that gets a lot of sun to help promote the decomposition of your compost. Lastly, all you will need to do is to start putting your compost waste into the barrel – it’s that easy!
This composter is available in two great different colors – terracotta and chocolate. It’s not a composter that you need to be embarrassed or ashamed of – it’s actually quite good looking! With its simple and sleek look, you’ll be able to display it proudly in your backyard. You won’t have to worry about this composter being an eyesore!
Also, there is a door located at the rear of the barrel that allows for easy access to your compost. The rear door design makes it difficult for any pests and rodents to enter the bin.
The Terra Composter is a simplistic composter that gets the job done. Its simple design helps to make composting extremely easy and efficient. Whether you are a beginner or an old pro at composting, this composter will work great for you!
The Kitchen Compost Pail is shaped like a traditional outdoor metal can. This pail can easily be placed anywhere in your kitchen. It features a tightly closing lid and a wide, easy-to-carry handle – perfect for trips to an outdoor composter! The lid features a series of flower-shaped vent holes – but don’t worry - the Kitchen Compost pail also comes with two replaceable carbon odor pouches. These pouches control any bad odors that might try to escape from your pail. Lastly, the pail is finished in a white enamel powdercoat that will easily blend in with any homes décor.
The Kitchen Compost Pail works pretty similar to any larger composter that you would have outside. You are just starting the process a little bit sooner. It’s pretty simple, all you have to do is place your vegetable and plant waste (and any other compostable materials, see Composting Fundamentals) into the pail. Keep the pail in your kitchen until it is full - the carbon pouches eliminate any bad odors that may try to emit from the pail. Once your pail is full, then you can transport it to your outdoor composter. What’s nice about the kitchen pail though – is that it will start the composting process before you take your materials outside!
So for those of us that do not have a lot of (if any) outdoor space for a composter, we can compost small amounts at a time for our potted plants or mini gardens. For those who already have a composter, this small pail will save you numerous trips out to the composter, and help start the breakdown process sooner!
At home composting is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to enrich your garden and soil. The 58 gallon Compost Converter helps to make it even easier. Available in green or black, this compost barrel is strong, simple and rigid in construction. The barrel is guaranteed to last for at least 10 years. It is comprised completely of recycled plastic that is fade-resistant and requires absolutely no assembly.
The Compost Converter was designed to create the best possible composting environment. The sun’s heat is easily absorbed by the dark color of the plastic, which helps to create a warm environment internally to assist in successful composting.
This particular composter has air slots that provide the proper ventilation needed to successfully help the breakdown process of your compost. The easy slide hatch located near the bottom at the front of the composter makes for easy access to your composting material. It also has a windproof lid – you will never have to worry about it opening due to unstable weather conditions.
Have a beautiful garden while aiding efforts to reduce landfill, space, and volume. The Compost Converter makes it simple and easy throughout your composting process!
Although a conventional homemade compost pile will get the job done, it can take years to get ready to use compost and it’s a whole lot of work. Recently, innovators have started to develop home composters to make composting convenient, easier, and a bit safer than a basic pile. Using a barrel can also provide you with much quicker access to ripe fertilizer. A compost barrel can speed up the process and sometimes get it down to just a few weeks rather than years with a pile and a shovel.
The Roto Composter is constructed of durable 100% recycled polyethylene plastic and measures 36" x 28" x 31", and holds 12 cu. ft. of material. A large 16 inch twist off lid located at the top of the rain barrel provides easy access for dropping in kitchen scraps and recyclable yard waste. It also adds the security of knowing children and small animals won’t be able to fall in.
In order to get the most out of your compost barrel, you need to turn the compost regularly. The large capacity composter rotates on a stable, wheeled base ensuring that the nutrients in the developing compost is evenly distributed. The rotating drum can be removed from it's base and rolled to desired area for filling or dispensing. Recessed handles on the sides of composter provide gripping points for conveniently turning the batch. A good batch of compost needs air to accelerate the process so there are 72 end air vents and a two-way breather valve on the lid to provide air movement from end to end and throughout the composting batch.
This composter will arrive in two pieces and is so simple to set up. Simply set the drum on top of the base, and you're ready to start turning your yard waste and kitchen scraps into beneficial compost for your garden. The Roto Composter allows you to easily turn material that would have originally ended up in the garbage, into nutritious fertilizer.
Composting has never been as easy as with the Green Solar Cone Organic Digesting Composter. With the Green Solar Cone Composter, you will be able to eliminate your kitchen waste AND reduce your family’s trash by up to 20%!
Another great aspect of the Green Solar Cone Composter is that it is beneficial to the environment. By using it, you can help conserve landfill space and you are able to dispose of food waste immediately. This solar-heated composter will safely eliminate all cooked and uncooked food waste, which in turn will keep your remaining household waste clean and ready for recycling. The Green Solar Cone Composter breaks food waste down to its natural components of water, carbon dioxide, and a small residue. Included with the composter is a kitchen caddy (for easy trips outside with your food waste) and accelerator powder (to help speed up the composting process).
The Green Solar Cone is a four-part injection molded unit made completely from recycled plastic. It has a lower base unit basket that is installed below ground. There is a black inner cone that is located inside the outer green plastic cone. The patented design of this composter utilizes a solar heating effect between the inner and outer cones to promote air circulation, which aides in the growth of micro-organisms that contribute to the composting process. You will want to choose a sunny location for your composter. The warmer it is – the quicker the composting process will begin.
Having a composter is an earth-friendly, easy-to-use, efficient household tool that will always help reduce and eliminate the problem of food disposal. Over 90% of the waste material in the Solar Green Cone is absorbed safely as water by the soil and it only needs to be cleaned out once every few years when you treat it with care.
Once you receive your Green Solar Cone Composter and follow the few easy steps for assembly – you will be ready to compost! You can make a big difference in your own home and yard by simply composting instead of throwing all of your organic kitchen waste in the trash. Save the earth and money at the same time!
Owning a garden composter can make a big difference in a homeowner’s life. One of the biggest advantages of having a compost tumbler is that it takes in organics from the top and tumbles them daily. Owning a composter also helps t o lower buildups at garbage dumps and will help you reduce your water bill – compost helps soil retain water a lot more efficiently!
The Sun-Mar Garden Composter is a top of the line composter that is available in two different sizes: 50 and 100 gallons. This composter is pest proof – you will never have to worry about any rodents or other animals crawling in. It also has a patented double drum design and uses hyper-thermophylic microorganisms to help break down your garbage in a constant tumbling fashion. One of the great aspects of this outdoor composter is that there is never any need to empty it and start over – it releases a constant flow of humus out the exit hatch on the side when full!
How it works:
The Sun-Mar is very easy to use, and it’s even easier to assemble! All you need to do is snap the cradle on to the drum bearing and then you’re ready to go!
Once you have your Sun-Mar composter assembled, you can start feeding it kitchen scraps, weeds, leaves, etc. The materials go in through easy access ports located at the top of the composter. Once you have your compost inside of the drum, you will need to rotate it a few times. There is a back-saving ball bearing which makes for easy tumbling.
Compost will begin exiting automatically from the bottom port as the drum rotates. As the drum rotates, compost moves along the outer drum and then back throughout the entire inner drum before it leaves through the output port. Another highlight of this composter is that it is completely fork, shovel, and tool free!
If you ever find that the compost in your barrel is dry, you will want to spray it with water to add moisture. It’s also important to keep the composter warm – usually just being out in the sun will work just fine.
With the Sun-Mar Garden Composter you can help reduce the amount of garbage being sent to the landfill each year – and have free, organic fertilizer forever! There’s no better way to go green than with the Sun-Mar Garden Composter.
With Spring upon us and Summer quickly approaching, it’s time to start that dreaded landscaping and yard cleanup. One easy way to aid in this process is to begin composting. This way you can just quickly toss all of the excess yard waste into a bin and voila, cleanup completed!
Even better, that compost once it matures can save you quite a bit of money on fertilizer. Compost can be used to enrich gardens, improve the soil around trees and shrubs, and as soil additive for house plants and planter boxes or protective mulch for trees and shrubs. The possibilities are endless. Of course, you can create your own compost pile in your back yard but it’s much easier and cleaner to process it in a compost bin. Compost bins can come in a smaller kitchen size that can be used for a small garden or to transport kitchen waste to a larger composter outdoors which are generally 50-100 gallons. Of course, the question is, how much fertilizer do you really need to nurture your garden all summer long? The truth is, you can never have too large of a composter since compost will not expire and can always be used the following year, but you could unknowingly choose a size that is too small and therefore unable to provide enough fertilizer.
In most regions adding a layer each year that is about 1/2 an inch thick, or about 30 gallons per 100 square feet, is all that is necessary. However, if you live where the growing season is a bit longer or in an area with high rainfall it may be necessary to double that to about 1 inch per 100 square feet.
First, to calculate how much is compost is needed you will have to figure out how many square feet you want to cover. Then, divide that number by 100 and multiply your result by 30. This will give you the amount of fertilizer your garden needs in gallons. Basically, if you have a garden that is 500 square feet you’ll need to be prepared with about 150 gallons of fertilizer per year - 30 gallons of compost is equal to about 160 pounds of fertilizer, or 4 bags. That means for 500 square feet you would need 20 bags of fertilizer. Traditional fertilizer, at about $12 per 20 pound bag, would cost you at least $240 a year. Just imagine the money you will save using compost; a new composter will pay for itself within the first year!
If you’re reading this you are obviously familiar with the fact that our landfills are overflowing with excess waste that could easily be recycled and used as fertilizer. For a family of four, using a composter rather than throwing away kitchen scraps and grass clippings can save up to 700 pounds of waste per family each year. Imagine the amount of money you can save on that much fertilizer! You could do it the hard way and make a big pile in your backyard and tend to it plus try to keep critters out of it, but who has time for that? As composting is beginning to grow in popularity many inexpensive, high quality designs have been developed.
The inconspicuous black Compost Barrel is exceptional in both quality and design. Designed with ease and simplicity in mind, this composter features a rotating tumbler so your compost will develop evenly. Similar in design are the 53 Gallon Green Compost Tumbler, Barrel Compost Tumbler, Roto Composter, and 50 and 100 Gallon Sun Mar Composters. Regularly give any of them a spin and go on with your day for even compost in a few short weeks rather than years in a traditional pile. The Sun Mar Composters even feature a handy pour spout on the side so you don’t have to worry about scooping compost from your barrel when you need it.
The Green Johanna Hot Composter is unique in that it is quicker to compost than a standard compost bin and can actually break down all types of food waste, including cooked food, bones, fish and meat, which should not be added to a standard compost bin. Once the weather cools off, keep your compost from freezing with the Green Johanna Hot Composter with Winter Jacket. Constructed of recycled plastic and highly durable in design, the 58 Gallon Black or Green Compost Barrels come complete with a convenient extra wide hatch and wind proof lid so you don’t have to worry about it blowing away.
If an eye catching design is more your style, you would appreciate the Spanish aesthetic of the tera cotta colored Composter. This attractive composting bin is designed to look like a tera cota pot and also comes in an attractive brown; no one will ever know that you’ve stashed kitchen waste and weeds inside. The Vinyl Garden Compost Bin looks like something straight out of a country kitchen. Just looking at it takes you back to that vacation in the country or visiting a farm. Very attractive and minimalistic in design, this composting center is excellent for tossing in your waste and moving on with the day.
If you’d prefer to move your composting efforts indoors, you’ll want something like the 4.75 Gallon Silver Kitchen Composter or a Kitchen Compost Pail. Stash away your kitchen scraps until full and then dump outside in your larger compost bin or use to compost organic scraps that you wouldn’t put in a traditional compost bin. These are great for condos or apartments or homes with small yards since you can compost in an attractive container inside your house. If you’re looking for an innovative, dual purpose composter, you’d appreciate the Green Solar Cone Organic Digesting Composter. When partially buried underground, this composter will gradually release nutrients into the soil around it. Store your kitchen waste in the included kitchen caddy and then take it outside when full and dispose of it in the coordinating composter.
Whatever design you are in the market for, there’s certain to be one out there that’s just right for your needs.
I sat down earlier in the week to write an article on composters and realized I literally knew nothing about them. Now I know that they store garbage and that somehow, over time, that garbage will become free fertilizer, but that was the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I figured since I didn’t know much about it, there are probably a lot of people out there who don’t realize the importance of the subject I’ve just recently gained extensive knowledge on – composting. The following basic questions and answers should get you started on composting and over time with some experience, become an expert on the subject.
What is composting?
Let’s start with basic description, which is pretty much what we all know so far. Compost is, by definition, “A mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients.” Without any intervention nature uses composting to replenish itself when leaves and plants die, pile up on the ground, and begin to decay. The rotting leaves return to the soil and the roots reclaim those nutrients, completing the natural recycling process.
Composting yard and kitchen wastes is a critical step towards reducing waste and contributing to a healthy environment. Once the composting process has been completed you will have an earthy, dark, crumbly substance (similar in appearance to humus) that is excellent for enriching soil.
Why would you compost? What are the benefits of composting?
As people become more aware of the impact of landfills and excess waste on the environment, they are turning to composting. Through composting garbage and waste becomes a valuable reusable resource rather than another pile in a dump. At least 30% of the waste in our landfills is yard and kitchen waste. The basic principles are quite simple and sticking to them will result in diverting an average of 700 pounds of waste per household, per year from landfills.
Compost does several things to benefit the soil that synthetic fertilizers cannot do, while saving you money year after year. By adding organic matter to the soil rather than synthetic chemicals, you are creating a much safer environment. This organic matter also improves the way water interacts with the soil. Regardless of the type of soil you have there are extensive benefits to keeping composting the way nature intended - natural.
How do you begin composting?
You can put as much effort into composting as you want; essentially it is an almost effortless process that needs very minimal maintenance. The process can range from passive to highly managed. By choosing a highly managed method you’re really going to have to commit and learn the various combinations of wastes needed to create a perfect pile and how to maintain it. I prefer passive since I don’t plan on getting very scientific and spending hours a week on all of this. Very simply, gather your grass clippings, leaves and kitchen scraps and toss them into the bin whenever you have some until the bin is full. You’ll want to use a good mix of browns and greens in your compost to get the best nutritional balance. Browns tend to be bulky and promote aeration while greens tend to be high in moisture and balance out the dry nature of the browns.
Over time the waste will begin the natural recycling process and start to compress and decompose and eventually become compost. In a traditional compost pile you’ll want to wait a year or two to check the oldest stuff at the bottom for finished compost which is dark brown, crumbly, and earthy-smelling. Small pieces of leaves or other ingredients may be visible but if the compost contains a lot of materials that are not broken down, it is only partly decomposed. You can accelerate this process by using a bin instead, which can decrease this time to just a few weeks or months. Once the compost is ready, remove the bottom section and add it to your garden beds or plants and continue adding waste to the compost bin. It’s as easy as that!
There are a tremendous number of options for containing your compost and once you’ve chosen your method of composting, you will need to choose a bin system. I prefer commercially made compost bins over piles covered in hay or homemade contraptions simply because I don’t like the idea of wildlife enjoying my pile. This way my compost (and back yard) is safe from critters and I won’t get a surprise when I find some wild animal in my backyard enjoying my leftovers. Many commercial composters also come with complete composting directions to take any guesswork out of the process.
What can you compost? What can’t you compost?
A great variety of things can be composted at home, saving them from a one-way trip to the landfill, and turning them into a valuable soil commodity. Feel free to throw in grass or lawn clippings, hay, leaves, straw, wood chips, saw dust, weeds, and kitchen waste. You can’t use everything from the kitchen but fruit and vegetable peels and rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and similar food waste is great to compost. You don’t want to compost meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones. These are particularly attractive to pests and don’t always smell to great either. Avoid composting weeds that have begun to seed until they are thoroughly dead (brown) since they may resprout in your compost pile.
Steer clear of composing pet wastes, human wastes, diseased plants (to avoid spreading that disease later), and chemically treated wood products. Chemically treated wood products can contain harmful chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, and copper.
If you have any other questions, we’re always here to help you get started. As you can see, composting is a very simple process with huge benefits. In as little as five minutes a day you can begin creating fertilizer that will benefit your plants and your wallet for as long as you continue composting.
Stay tuned for upcoming composter product reviews and the latest news in at home composting!