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The Complete Guide to Compost Bins

best-compost-bins-main-imageQuick Links 
1. A Composting Guide

2. Compost Bin Reviews
3. Worm Composter Reviews
4. Worms for Composting
5. Indoor Bin Reviews

Composting is a great method of recycling. Instead of discarding of natural waste in the trash, why not use it in a productive way in the garden? Composting produces rich, nutrient filled soil that your garden will love. Perfect for flowers, fruit, vegetables, and even the grass. Making your own compost is so much cheaper than buying it, so why not start today?

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the best compost bin, best countertop compost bin, and the best worm composter available today. We’ve included the perfect composting bin to suit every lifestyle. Should you live in the country or even in the city, there’s a bin that will work for you.

A Guide to Composting

Before we review the top composters, let’s learn a bit about composting.

So, what is composting?

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic material into a rich, nutrient filled soil. We call this soil ‘compost’. This is a process that happens all around us in nature, but we can speed up the process in our backyards using a compost bin.

We can only compost organic matter. Things that we can compost include:

  • Egg shells
  • Fruit & veg
  • Coffee grounds (and filters)
  • Grass & leaves
  • Newspapers (they should be shredded)
  • Nut shells
  • Cardboard/paper
  • Tea bags
  • And many, many more…..

Composting requires three key ingredients that are plentiful in most homes (or nearby). The only other thing you need is a container for the compost magic to happen. The three types of ingredients for composting are:

  1. Green Waste – Materials like grass cuttings, fruit & vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. These materials add important nitrogen to the compost.
  2. Brown Waste – Materials like sticks, branches, and dead leaves/plants. These materials add essential carbon to the mix.
  3. Water – We need to add water to help the process. Water helps to break down the green and brown waste matter.

For a good compost mixture, you should always try and keep the balance of green to brown waste equal.

There’s another type of composting that is important to mention, and that is vermicomposting. This is worm composting, and it’s perfect if you don’t have a garden, but have lots of food waste.

Why Compost?

There are many reasons why we should compost, but here are the four main ones.

  1. You will reduce your impact on the environment.

By producing your own organic fertilizer, there will be less harmful chemical fertilizer in operation. Chemical fertilizers are washed into lakes, river, and streams by rainfall and they are incredibly hazardous to wildlife. Chemical fertilizers are also a threat to us, as they contaminate water supplies in rural areas.

Another reason is the reduced CO2 emissions

2.        You can save money.

Quite simply, you don’t have to buy fertilizer for your garden. Every time you buy (or grow) fruit, vegetables etc. you are investing in your compost.

3.        Your soil will love it. 

Compost is nature’s way of improving your soil. There’s nothing better! Your plants will thrive off the nutrients, and produce more fruit and vegetables. By enriching your soil you will reduce the likelihood of disease and bugs affecting your plants too.

4.         It’s an important form of recycling.

Organic waste that should be composted, accounts for 20-30% of domestic waste. When this waste is put into landfills it releases harmful methane gas. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming. Furthermore, all this waste takes up a lot of space in landfill. Something that we could definitely do with less of.

How to Compost

Composting is easy and maintaining a compost bin requires very little work. There are two basic ways to make a compost: with general garden materials or with worms (vermicomposting). Here are the basic steps for a successful compost using each method.

Garden Compost

  1. A compost bin needs a dry spot, that is also shaded from the heat of the sun.
  2. Add to the compost when enough waste is collected. Remember to try and keep the green to brown waste ratio quite even for a good quality compost.
  3. Try and keep the fruit and vegetable waste buried beneath a few inches of compost.
  4. Add water when the mix looks dry. The moisture helps the decomposition process.
  5. Mix or turn the mixture regularly. Some compost bins will have a special turning handle to make this job easy.
  6. When the compost mixture is dark, and smells like a forest floor it is ready to use. This will take a few months and maybe longer depending on the temperature and the amount of compost you are making.

Vermicompost

  1. You need a good bin that is not opaque (worms hate light).
  2. Start with a good bedding material. These materials are usually absorbent and high in carbon.
    1. Shredded cardboard & newspaper, leaves, peat moss, and straw work well.
  3. Next add some food waste. The perfect ingredients for good compost are: vegetables & fruit, tea bags, egg shells, and coffee grounds.
  4. Materials that are high in starch, citrus fruit, hot peppers, food that is high in oil or sugar, or plant waste should only be added in small quantities. Meat, dairy, or human/pet waste shouldn’t be added at all.
  5. Each time you add organic waste, it’s a good idea to add a little bedding too.
  6. In the beginning, the amount of bedding should be higher than the organic waste. A ratio of 4:3 or close to this should be about right.
  7. Add a little water to dampen, but not soak the mix.
  8. Ideally, this should be left for at least a week before adding the worms. Worms like a decomposing environment, so you should give the mixture some time before bringing the worms in.
  9. Red worms will eat up to half of their body weight every day. If your house produces 3 lbs of food waste each day then you will need around 6 lbs of worms. One lb of worms will contain around 100 worms. They reproduce very quickly so it would be an idea to start with a number less than the optimal number. It will also take time for the worm farm to reach this kind of efficiency.

The Best Compost Bins

We’ve found the best composting bins around and put them into a comparison table. The table can be sorted according to the values that matter. We’ve included regular garden composters, indoor composters, and worm composters too. Following the table we discuss each of them in a bit more detail.

PictureModelCapacityRatingPriceKey Features
Envirocycle mini composterEnvirocycle Composter17/35 gallons4.7$$$/$$$$$Produces solid & liquid compost, 5 year warranty, amazing customer service, US based
Yimby-tumblerYimby Tumbler37 gallons4.2$2 chambers, makes compost fast, adjustable air vents
Redmon-Green-culture-65-gallonRedmon Green Culture65 gallons4.4$4 door access, ventilation holes, great value
Good-ideas-cw-2x12Good Ideas CW-2X1282 gallons4.1$$$$$Huge capacity, 2 chambers, easy to turn operation
Enviro-world-82-gallonEnviro World82 gallons4.4$$Huge capacity, twist lock lid, adjustable air vents
Worm-factory-360-WF360BWorm Factory 3604 trays4.5$$Complete kit for worm compost, includes instructional DVD, odorless, perfect for food waste
Urbalive-Indoor-Worm-FarmUrbalive Indoor Worm Farm2 trays4.3$$Elegant design, clever spigot fertilizer dispenser
Hungry-Bin-Flow-Through-Worm-FarmHungry Bin Worm ComposterCan process up to 2 kg of waste per day4.7$$$$$Great design, easy to use, no trays, highly efficient
Epica-stainless-steelEpica Stainless Steel1 gallon4.9$Amazing reviews, won't rust, simple to clean, durable
Oxo-good-grips compost binOxo Good Grips0.75 gallons4.6$Airtight lid, rotating handle, smooth walls are easy to clean
Earth-Cycle-CountertopEarth Cycle Countertop1 gallon4.8$Odorless, durable, silicon grip, stainless steel

Envirocycle mini composterEnvirocycle Composter

The Envirocycle composter features a unique design that means making compost easy. It isn’t the cheapest of compost bins, but it comes with some smart ideas that justify it’s more expensive price tag. It comes in two sizes. There’s the 17 and the 35 gallon bins.

It is made in the USA from BPA free plastic that is sturdy and built to last. It is backed by a 5 year warranty, and some of the best customer support around. A quick look on the Amazon comments page shows the level of support and care offered by Envirocycle goes way beyond what is expected. They’re level of commitment to the customer is very refreshing.

It has a simple but clever design. The compost is kept int the drum which can be easily spun around to mix the compost materials. When the time comes to use the compost mixture in your garden, the drum can be detached and rolled to where you need to use it. The compost liquid can also be drained out of the base of the bin through drain plugs. It’s a well designed bin that offers something different to the traditional immovable bin.

It comes in two sizes. There’s the 17 and 35 gallon bins.

Bottom Line: Some of the most innovative design and the best customer support. Be prepared to pay a little more though.

Yimby-tumblerYimby Tumbler

The Yimby Tumbler features a recycled plastic, two chamber design. The chambers are held up by a steel frame that allows them to be easily spun around to mix the compost. The chambers have adjustable air vents to help with the air circulation around the compost.

The chambers hold a combined 37 gallons of material. They are said to produce compost in as little as two weeks when the weather is warm.

Bottom Line: The Yimby Tumbler has a really simple, but well thought out design. The only thing lacking is a specialized spigot or drain for the compost tea. It isn’t as expensive as the models that feature this though. It’s really good value.

Redmon-Green-culture-65-gallonRedmon Green Culture

This is one of the larger size compost bins available, and holds 65 gallons of material. Being this large it isn’t mobile like some others. Instead, it features four access doors (one at each side). Actually, the lid can be lifted off too, to help when it comes to using the compost.

It is made of weather resistant plastic resin, and is designed to stand the tests of winter. It lacks a handle or device to turn the mixture over. This would have to be done with a pitchfork or similar tool. Bins of this size tend to lack the special features of the smaller, lighter bins.

Good-ideas-cw-2x12Good Ideas CW-2X12

This is one of the biggest bins we have featured in our guide. It has a capacity of 82 gallons. It is proudly made in the USA using FDA approved materials. It has a two chamber design, with large lids that are twisted to open. The benefit of having two drums is that you can have two batches of compost at different stages. When one is full, then start the next one. You don’t have to wait.

The bin has recessed handles on the drum so that you can spin the drum around to mix the compost. When both chambers are near capacity, this might take some muscle. This compost bin is for the gardener who needs serious amounts of compost.

Bottom Line: This composter is for those with big gardens or big compost needs.

Enviro-world-82-gallonEnviro World

This is another large sized compost bin. It has a huge 82 gallon capacity. Unlike some others, it doesn’t require any assemble and ships as one single piece.

It has a large, twist-lock lid for you to add to the the compost mix. The compost is removed via a hatch at the bottom. There is plenty of ventilation on this bin, to give good air circulation to the compost. The upper air vents are also adjustable.

The bin comes with a composting guide booklet to answer all the questions a re first time composter might have. It also comes with metal pegs to pin it to the ground.

Bottom Line: This compost bin gives great value. A huge capacity at a relatively small price.


Worm Composters

Worm-factory-360-WF360BWorm Factory 360

This worm composter comes with everything you need to get started. Worms, compost, bin, instructional DVD, manual…. it’s all here. If you’ve always thought about worm composting, then this is the perfect entry level starter kit to get you going.

It comes as a 4-tray capacity bin, but this is easily upgraded to 8 trays if needed. At full capacity it is one of the largest home worm composters available. It features a pretty standard worm compost bin design. A nice touch is the spigot at the bottom for collecting the liquid compost tea.

It’s really easy to start and to maintain. To start the compost you need to add some bedding material, 1 lb of worms (both provided), and some household waste. The worms will pretty much do the rest. As a tray fills you add a new one to the top, and the worms will migrate upwards in search of the new food.

This worm composter is ideal for homes of 1-4 people, and is completely odorless. Perfect for city living too.

Bottom Line: This is the perfect kit for starting off a worm compost project. It comes with everything you need and a helpful guide. It can easily be expanded too.

Hungry-Bin-Flow-Through-Worm-FarmHungry Bin Worm Composter

This is probably the best worm composter available for home use. It doesn’t come cheap, but the convenience it offers makes it a worthwhile investment.

At it’s full potential the Hungry Bin can produce up to 2 kg of compost a day. Unlike other worm composters the Hungry Bin doesn’t use separate trays. It is one continuous bin that is tapered to compress the castings at the bottom and force the worms to the top. This is the key to the Hungry Bins efficiency as it mimics the natural underground environment that the worms come from. This also allows the worms at the top to be undisturbed as you harvest the compost from the bottom of the bin.

The Hungry Bin makes both solid and liquid compost fertilizer. The liquid tea is easily dispensed through a spigot at the bottom of the bin. It can make up to 1 liter of liquid fertilizer every week. The solid compost will fill a tray every 2-4 months. The tray is easily unclipped and removed when it is needed. When you release the tray. only the tray full of compost will come out. The taper stops the contents of the bin from falling too.

Bottom Line: The Rolls Royce of worm composters. It’s a really smart piece of design that makes worm composting so easy that everyone should do it. This is our personal favorite.

Urbalive-Indoor-Worm-FarmUrbalive Indoor Worm Farm

The Urbalive worm farm is built for indoor use. It’s the perfect worm farm for city life. It was designed by  leading Czech designer Jiří Pelcl, and is a very stylish piece of work. It definitely wouldn’t look out of place in a modern apartment.

It is smaller in size than the other worm composters we have featured. It has two separate trays, but this may be expanded. It has a handy spigot at the bottom of the bin to dispense the liquid compost. It6 comes with instructions about how to start a worm compost, but unfortunately doesn’t come with worms. This are easily available on Amazon from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

Bottom Line: It’s so stylish that nobody will believe it’s a worm farm! Great for bringing nature to the city. It’s the perfect worm bin for an indoor worm farm.


Worms for Composting

red-worms

It takes a special kind of worm to make good compost. They are called red worms. These are the best worms for composting, and they are easy to get your hands on too. You could catch them yourself, but you will need a few hundred. If that doesn’t appeal then they are easy to buy too.

It’s a good idea to calculate how much food waste your home makes each day before buying worms. A red worm can eat 1/2 of its body weight each day. If your home makes 1 lb of food waste each day then a farm containing 2 lbs of worms would be about right. One pound of worms contains around 1000 worms. So a home making 1 lb of waste each day might need 2000 worms.

Red worms are easily available on websites like Amazon. The main supplier of red worms is Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Uncle Jim offers live worm packs in sizes from 250 worms all they way up to 2000 worms. Uncle Jim’s worms come with amazing customer feedback which is overwhelmingly positive.

The other option for worms is from Tip Top Bio Control who sell packs of 300 live worms. The price is comparable to Uncle Jim’s and they come with really good customer feedback too.

Indoor Compost Bins

If you don’t have the luxury of a garden, but would still like to compost then a don’t despair, there is a kitchen compost bin just right for you. These indoor or countertop bins are small, and more attractive than the garden bins, but make a good compost nonetheless. Here’s three of the best kitchen compost bins according to Tiny House, Huge Ideas.

Epica-stainless-steelEpica Stainless Steel

This kitchen compost bin from Epica is probably the highest rated thing I have ever seen on Amazon. At the time of writing it has an average rating of 4.9 stars from 4,609 reviews. That says all you need to know about the quality of the product.

It is made of stainless steel that won’t rust and will last a lifetime. The lid is airtight and contains a replaceable charcoal filter. The filter is specially designed to remove any odor. It will last more than 6 months before needing replaced.

The indoor bin has a 1 gallon capacity. This is large enough to fit several days worth of food scraps. It will easily fit on a kitchen countertop.

Oxo-good-gripsOxo Good Grips

This small compost bin from Oxo is very basic in it’s design, but it is well put together. It is very simply a container for organic waste. It doesn’t have a charcoal filter like many kitchen bins do, but with it being so small and having an airtight lid, you don’t have to worry about any smells.

It has a 0.75 gallon capacity and comes in a matte black or a white finish. I think it looks really good, and would fit in nicely in any modern kitchen.

There’s a rotating handle that makes transporting the goods really easy. You don’t have to worry about getting splashed. It has smooth interior walls that mean nothing sticks to them. It makes cleaning really easy to.

Earth-Cycle-CountertopEarth Cycle Countertop

The Earth Cycle bin is made from durable stainless steel. It’s built to last and won’t rust. It has a double thick carbon filter that eliminates any odor from the waste. This will keep those annoying fruit flies away too.

Earth Cycle have thought about transporting the bin, and have included a silicon handle. The handle gives a good grip and is nice to the touch.

The bin will hold 1 gallon of organic waste, which will need to be transferred to a larger compost bin every few days.


Well that’s it for a our guide to composters. If you have any questions then please leave us a message, and we’ll do our best to help. Check back soon as we have new articles coming fast.

Image sources

By Mihai Duguleana; – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2804913

By Holger Casselmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16530349

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