How to choose the compost bin

The choice of the compost bin must be made according to a series of evaluations that we are going to illustrate.

The right choice for the composter

Self-building a composter is not a particularly difficult task, but the composters that are on the market, as well as being designed specifically to get the best possible result from our composting activities, also solve a whole series of problems.

Let's take a look at the most common questions that need to be asked when choosing a composter.

How big should the composter be?

The capacity of compost bins is calculated in liters, and to try to figure out how big the composter should be you should keep in mind all the organic waste you produce during the year.

In the compost bin you will put the waste from the kitchen, the vegetable garden, the garden and possibly even the forest, if you have one.

The larger the family, the more organic waste you produce, and the same applies to the size of the garden and the vegetable patch.

What not many people consider is that home composting is a cycle that includes three steps:

  1. filling
  2. decomposition
  3. emptying

Once the composter has reached the maximum limit of its capacity, it is then necessary to allow time for the micro-organisms to do their work if we want to obtain, at the end of the cycle, a finished compost of good quality.

This is to say that you should consider buying two or three composters, so that while the first one is filled you can proceed with filling the second one and so on, until the compost of the first composter is ready, the composter can be emptied and ready to be filled again.

So, for a large garden you can also think of buying a very large composter, up to 750 liters, for smaller gardens there are also 200-300 liters.

The larger the composter, the less susceptible it is to temperature fluctuations; a small composter should preferably be covered in winter to prevent it from freezing excessively and the material inside from freezing, thus stopping the composting process.

Are plastic or wooden composters better?

Plastic compost bins look like square-based or, more often, circular-based turrets. They are not unpleasant to look at, but still do not integrate as well as wood into a natural environment.

Aesthetic criteria should, however, take a back seat for a moment to what we expect to get from a composter in the first place: excellent compost.

The ease with which plastic composters can be cleaned, both externally and internally, is definitely a point in their favour.

Wood is the material of choice for those who want to build their own compost heap, but make sure that it is not treated with polluting chemicals.

By joining together four wooden pallets we could already have obtained a large structure where to compost garden and kitchen waste, but we must be sure that those pallets, as often happens, are not impregnated with the substances they have carried, sometimes even toxic substances.

Wooden compost bins generally have large openings and this can attract animals and insects of all kinds.

Wood, moreover, tends to rot in contact with humidity and compost, as we all know, must be kept constantly humid.

Wooden structures are difficult to move while plastic composters, once emptied, can be safely moved elsewhere.

At this point it would seem there is no story: plastic composters are definitely to be preferred, yet they too have some drawbacks.

Plastic is less insulating than wood and tends to heat up and cool down more quickly; in the composting process this is not a good thing since the temperature has a great influence. A too low temperature reached inside the composter could completely stop the activity of the microorganisms, while a too high temperature could sterilize the material making us obtain peat instead of compost.

Moreover, the plastic, exposed to the weather, becomes more fragile and may break during low winter temperatures.

Even given these critical points, however, plastic composters and, even better, plastic compost tumblers remain the optimal solution for those who want to approach the magical world of home composting.

The wide variety of choices and the fact that they are specially designed to get the best possible results from composting, make plastic composters definitely the choice to go for.

Always remember to check that the composter you are going to buy has a bottom, as this is preferable to those whose walls rest directly on the ground.

Does the color of the compost bin matter?

The color of the compost bin indirectly affects composting activity.

Generally, plastic compost bins are black, green or brown in color.

Dark colors of compost bins are preferable as they tend to warm up during the winter due to solar radiation and this benefits the composting process by preventing the temperature of the compost from dropping too low.

Dark colors also detach less between the vegetation of the garden and this is a major aesthetic benefit.

What height should the composter be?

The height of a composter is about one and a half meters and compost tumblers can reach even greater heights.

A composter whose contents can be dumped directly into the wheelbarrow is a major advantage but has, on the other hand, the disadvantage of being difficult to fill.

If we have to choose, however, it is better to have a high composter rather than a low one, and if we have difficulty reaching the top cover for filling, we can, with three 20x30 perforated blocks, create a couple of solid steps on which to climb.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.