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Composting: Discover Which Bin Is Right For You

February 16th, 2013

So you’ve read about the benefits of composting, and now you’re eager to get started. But what composing bin is right for you? Between compost tumblers, enclosed bins, rolling bins, or a simple, homemade bin – choosing the right bin for your needs can be confusing. We’ve de-mystified the most popular styles of composting bins so that your garden is flourishing this spring, with the help of the food scraps in your kitchen.

Compost Tumblers

Pros: These circular, self-turning bins aerate compost by cranking or rolling the container with a handle. They can build a steady supply of compost every few weeks, and are ideal for small backyard spaces. These composting bins are also a lot easier to use compared to turning up an open pile with a pitchfork.

Cons: Once the composting bin is completely full, expect to wait anywhere from 2-10 weeks for the contents to process before adding more materials.  They can be pricey, and will also run you anywhere from $100 – $500.

Enclosed Bins

Pros: Enclosed bins are ideal for someone seeking low-maintenance composting, as family members can easily lift a lid to throw in composting materials. There are a variety of enclosed bin styles – from bins specifically made for composting, to a simple garbage can with a lid. Most enclosed bins will also keep rain, pests, and wildlife out very well.

Cons: While low maintenance, the processing time can be quite long (up to two years) because the materials are not aerated routinely. Unfortunately, low maintenance composting can also mean a longer wait time for rich results.

Rolling Bins

Pros: Rolling bins are convenient because of their removable lid, which makes it easy to turn the soil while keeping out pests and rain. Like the name suggests, the bin can be rolled to your garden or yard waste, and rolled back. You’re also able to aerate and turn the compost pile every few days by tumbling it around.

Cons: A rolling bin is not necessary for small backyards, and work best in large yards. Bins can also become challenging to roll once they are very full.

Simple, Homemade Bins

Pros: Simple, homemade bins can be made from a variety of inexpensive materials. Many choose to create their bins from lattice panels, plywood, cinder blocks, wood pallets, or a trash can. We like this guide to making a few different styles. Most homemade bins can be made in a day or weekend, and if made well, can work well for many years.

Cons: Wooden compost bins may rot within a year or two.

Friends, which composting bins have been the most successful for your needs? What bins are you eager to try?

 

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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How to Make Your Own Compost

February 15th, 2011

 

If you’re planning a spring garden, you should consider composting. It’s a wonderful soil enhancer that is great for gardening, because it provides important nutrients that are released slowly over time for healthy plant growth. And it’s also good for the environment; composting lessons solid waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

If you’ve ever been in a forest, you’ve been near and on compost. In the great outdoors, composting—a combination of digested and undigested foods left on forest floors and dry leaves—results in aromatic, rich and soft soil.

If you’d like to make your own compost choose an outdoor location that is close enough to your garden to make it convenient. You can make an open bin compost container using wood, chicken wire or recycled plastic. Open bin composts make it easy to add materials to your garden. Or you can purchase enclosed composting containers from various sources. The only garden tools you’ll need for composting are: pitch fork, for turning; shovel and/or garden cart, for transporting compost to your garden; and a compost thermometer, for checking the temperature.

Regardless of which type of compost container you choose, it’s a good idea to have two separate chambers. The reason for this is that it takes several weeks for the composting process to complete. You will not want to add new composting material to a compost pile that is already in process.

Composting materials are generally referred to as “greens” and “browns.” Green compost materials are high in nitrogen, and brown compost materials are high in carbon. In order for composting to be successful, it needs food, water and air.

Green materials include: fresh grass clippings; fresh cow, chicken, horse or rabbit manure; kitchen scraps, such as coffee grounds, fruit, tea bags or vegetables; green leaves; or leftover fruits from the garden. Brown materials include: brown, dry leaves; shredded cornstalks; dried grass; or straw. An ideal combination is 4 parts brown to 1 part green. Do NOT add items such as fish, meat, or shredded newspaper.

To start your compost pile, put a 4-inch layer of brush, hay, twigs or straw at the bottom of the compost bin. This coarse layer will allow air to be drawn up into the pile from the bottom. Then add a 4-inch layer of brown material followed by a thin layer of good garden soil. Garden soil provides necessary bacteria to get the compost to start breaking down. Then, add a 4-inch layer of green material followed by a thin layer of an activator, such as fresh manure. Continue this layering process until the compost container is full. Lightly mist each layer with a garden hose, but make sure not to get it too wet. If you can squeeze water out of the material, you have gotten it too wet. If so, add dry brown materials.

Within 7-10 days, the internal temperature should reach about 140 degrees F, ideally 160 degrees F. This is when you can turn your compost pile, moving the drier material from the outside edges to the inside of the pile. Make sure to break up any clumps that have formed. If your compost pile seems too dry, lightly moisten it. At this point, you can turn your compost pile every 14 days. Your compost is ready when it is dark brown and soil-like.

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