Homestead

Starting a Compost Pile: 6 Compost Bins to Choose From

If you eat, chances are you have at one time or another had a few banana peels and carrot green castaways. And, if you have a chicken or two, you need to do something with the byproduct that comes from their back ends. Why not turn all those kitchen scraps and chicken droppings into something beneficial for your garden?

Before you start piling your leftovers and critter turds into a heaping pile in the back yard, it’s best to know what kind of compost bins are out there to keep the smell at bay and the neighbors happy.

1. Bins for Avid Gardeners

compost bins

A large size garden means that you may need a large compost bin to take on a lot of compostable materials. A composter with different compartments divided into three sections gives you a section for active composting, a section for to use as a holding area to put materials you will compost next, and finally a section for compost that is ready for harvest. This type of compost bin is perfect for the active composter. We use a large compost bin made of old 2x10s located on the back of the property to compost large amounts of garden materials when we take the garden down for the winter, old chicken bedding, and used up goat bedding.

2. Make Your Own Compost Bin

Designs for homemade compost bins have become so simplified over the years that you don’t have to be a handyman to make a good bin for composting. Of all the different types of compost bins you could make, from wood to wire to plastic, the best way to start out would be to use reusable materials you have on hand to construct your composting bin. Currently, we use a large, black bucket that was used originally to transport a large tree for a landscape company as a “homemade” bin. It is the perfect size for kitchen scraps and we keep it in the same area we house our chickens so they can pick through it for bugs, worms, and fresh shreddings while turning it over for me.

3. Wooden Compost Bins 

There are a couple of advantages to using wooden compost bins. First, they are relatively easy to make from recyclable materials, such as wooden pallets, which are cheap and sometimes even free. These pallets can be used for the sides and bottom of your bin. Second, wood provides good aeration for your composting materials which greatly helps to regulate the temperature of your compost heap. Of all the different types of compost bins, wooden ones are probably the most popular type of homemade compost bin.

4. Worm Composting (Vermicomposting)

Perhaps our favorite method of composting, worm composting is a popular method for small and large gardeners alike. Vermicomposting produces high-grade compost that gardens LOVE. The worm composting bin can be anything from a five-gallon pail to a much larger container. Basically, worms referred to fondly as “red wigglers” go through the layers of organic (food) and inorganic (paper) materials and feed on them. The worm excrement is called “castings” and is the byproduct that is used to feed lawns or gardens.

5. Tumbler-Style Bins

A tumbler-style compost bin takes the backbreaking work of “turning the pile” out of composting. For this reason, some gardeners prefer the tumbler-style. The tumbler bin is usually a large cylinder that you roll around the yard to mix the organic matter inside or it could come on a stand, attached so that it is suspended above ground with a crank to turn for mixing.

6. Compost in Your Kitchen

Even an apartment dweller who only has a few houseplants can participate in composting. A small kitchen compost bin fits well on the counter and can be set out of sight in a well-ventilated spot. For the avid gardener, a kitchen compost bin is a good way to produce compost all winter long without having to go outside in the cold.

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