Saturday, April 16, 2011


There is a wide variety of composting systems to choose from. The cheapest way to start composting is to create a compost pile. You can simply pick a spot in your backyard and start piling your organic waste. If you want to compost your food scraps you will need to build a fence around your pile to keep away pests that would like to snack on your food. Compost piles also require the most work, because you will need to turn them often to keep the compost properly aerated. You can always choose not to aerate your compost, but it 
will take a very long time to have finished compost, it can take even up to 2 years.

In my post “My New Composting Bin”, I introduced an enclosed bin. This system offers fairly easy composting. You can simply fill it up and do nothing, or you can occasionally mix it up to speed up the decomposing process. As with the pile, this system offers very slow composting process if not properly aerated. The advantage is that your composting bin comes with aerating wholes what speeds up the decomposing process. The disadvantage is that even if you aerate your compost it may take up to 6 months for your compost to be ready for use. You will also need to separate your finished compost from the unfinished organic waste piled on the top.

Another type of a composting bin is a rolling bin. This is very similar to the enclosed bin. The special feature of this bin is its round shape, thus allowing you to roll it around in your garden. The rolling process helps to aerate the waste and accelerate break down of the organic matter. In addition, I think it is easier to roll the bin than mix it with an aerator as it is required for a regular bin. One disadvantage of this bin is that when the bin gets full it is quite heavy to roll.

The fourth type of a composting bin is a compost tumbler. Tumblers are round bins set in some kind of a construction to keep them off the ground for an easy spinning. They are very easy to use, however they are often significantly more expensive than the enclosed composting bins. Another disadvantage of rolling and tumbling bins is that if you want to use the compost, you need to stop feeding them at some point to let the compost finish. Therefore, if you like one of these it would be a good idea to have at least two bins - one that is finishing and one that you are filling up.

The fifth type of a composting system is a worm bin. This is a perfect bin for people with a limited space. Worm bins are very popular with people living in apartments where none of the above composting systems can be used (unless you have a deck or a patio). This system uses red worms to eat your food scraps and turn them into a rich organic matter. There is no need to turn your compost pile, the worms will eat right through it. One disadvantage that I personally find to be a disadvantage is harvesting the compost. Simply, you need to separate your worms and the finished compost and that can be a messy business. However, I have never tried using a worm bin, so I have the least right to judge how easy or difficult this process is. I would be very happy to hear from you if you have any experience with a worm bin. In fact, I have met many people who use this method and they love it! It is by far the fastest way to turn your food scraps into rich compost.

The last type of a composting system that I would like to mention here is compost trenching. Although this method requires you to have space in your garden to burry your waste, it is a very low maintenance method of composting. Dig a trench, fill it up with compostable materials, cover the trench and you are done! Similar as with the worm bin composting, the earthworms will do the work for you. The great thing about this method is that it instantly fertilizes your soil. You don’t need to mix the finished compost into your soil. Trenching eliminates odors from compost and the burying process keeps away the unwanted pests and attracts the beneficial earthworms.

I am curious to learn what composting system works best for you. If you found your favorite composting system, please comment on this post and share your experience with others.

Stay tuned, the Composting Challenge progress data is coming soon! Happy composting! 

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