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What kind of bin do I need to make compost?

August 11, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I provided a crash course on what you can put in your compost but I never described how to set up a bin or a system.  I have used a varietWorm Compost Biny of bins and piles over the years.  So let’s get that compost bin set up and you can start reducing your food waste headed for your trash!

  • One Bin System – many Massachusetts municipalities sell compost bins at a reduced price thanks to grants.  Call your Department of Public Works or Board of Health for details. Many of them are made from recycled plastic (bonus!)  These are easily movable, have a lid, and are scavenger-resistant.  I have used the EarthMachine for years and it has a door at the bottom that I use to constantly retrieve finished compost.  I do throw all kinds of food waste in it!
  • Multi-Bin System – Husband take note – this is definitely on my wish list for the holidays!  This is a great system if you have a big back yard or a household that produces lots of waste.  It is also great for the “add-as-you-go” composters.  Start at one bin and fill it up.  Once full, move onto to the second bin.  Keep going and by the time you are adding to the third bin, the first one will be ready with compost. You could easily build something yourself but there are cute ones online!  Make sure you can open one side of each bin to save your back.
  • Tumbler – expensive and small but great for impatient gardeners as this will produce compost in as little as 3 weeks.
  • Wire Collector – for the laid back and frugal gardener.  This is a quick and inexpensive way to compost.  You can use any materials that you have laying around.  I built one with leftover garden fencing and sturdy sticks (picture walking sticks) and it lasted years.
  • No Bin Option – another great idea!  We have lots of woods (or as I call it The Jungle) so we place lots of stuff at the edge of the jungle.  Someone in our neighborhood with a smaller yard still practices the no bin composting at the edge of his land.  He keeps it neat so it’s not an eye-sore.

But what is my favorite compost bin?  My worm bin!  Worms produce the best compost – their castings (yes poop) are 50 percent higher in organic matter than soil that has not moved through the worms. There are no magic secrets to composting with worms – except you need to specifically buy Redworms.  Based on personal experience, I suggest purchasing them online from a business in the composting world.  Also, after working with my pet worms for over five years, I highly recommend purchasing a per-made vermicomposting bin.  You can do worm composting with a bin and drilling some holes in it.  But for the yuck factor – go for something with trays and a faucet. Worms start at the bottom and migrate upwards as they go, leaving behind tray after tray of rich compost. A reservoir at the bottom captures “worm tea” — an ideal, odor-free liquid fertilizer and you can collect it through the faucet.

Organic Green Tip:  Get a worm bin set up in your basement!  It doesn’t take up much space so can be done by apartment dwellers and will produce enough compost for houseplants and container gardening.  

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