Compost bins are made in all shapes and sizes. It is efficient to make valuable compost with them all. Compost bins are made out of just a few recycled materials, or they can be custom manufactured and loaded with all sorts of extras. Compost bins are like vehichles you can choose as stylish or as practical as you want it to be, or that will better fit your budget.
One type of compost bin is the homemade compost bin. It doesnt have to be perfect, and you can take pride in the uniqueness of the unit. This compost bin can be made from mesh wire, scrap wood, bricks, cinderblocks, or any combination of those building materials. Construction sites are a good source for these building materials. Make sure and ask the construction crew first to make sure it is actually scrap before you load it up, and if it is you are doing your part to keep it out of the local landfill.
Another is the round bin. Round bins have the most interior space and use the least material. For their volume typically they are lighter weight than the rectangular or square compost bins. This bins also has the least surface area for its size, which means it offers the most possible self-insulation and conserves heat better than other designs. On the other hand, rectangular compost bins utilize the most out of the available space. The thickness of their walls is the only wasted area, and they deliver high capacity for a smaller footprint. If you have a shortage of space in your yard, rectangular compost bins will be your best buy.
The walls of your composter can be as sturdy as you desire. It will not hurt to over-engineer the structure; a composter built to withstand normal stress can fail when its full and gets bumped, or when a tree falls against it. Plastic twist ties or zip ties are also good for holding together mesh screens, and metal twists are even stronger and typically last longer.
A wire composter is quick and easy to build and is a very basic way to protect your food scraps from wild critters. It can be constructed from chicken coop wire, hardware cloth, or chain link fence. Wire can be used to form either a round or rectangular compost bin. For a round bin, simply roll the wire into a cylinder, and then attach the ends together. For a rectangular wire compost bin, start by placing 4 (or more) sturdy poles into the ground. Then, wrap the wire around those stakes, bending at the corners with pliers and then tie it together. The height and diameter of the compost bin are determined by the length and width of the material you purchase so make sure and write your plans out prior to purchase. Typically a section of wire thats 3 feet wide and 10 feet long will become a 3 foot tall circular composter with a diameter of about 3.18 feet. A sheet of plywood across the top makes a decent roof to keep the moisture out. There are also plenty of commercially manufactured wire composters that you dont have to build yourself.
If you are handy with a drill then it is easy to make a wood framed compost bin. All you will need is few boards to get started they dont all have to be the same length, and scrap wood is perfect and once again will keep these items from going into your local landfill. Begin by building a wood frame with four boards arranged your exterior walls, either in a square or a rectangle. Then you will screw the boards together to form a rigid frame. Repeat the process to build the matching side. Next stand the frames up on their side and connect them using cross beams. Support beams may be needed on all of the sides. To keep animals out, the compost bin should be wrapped in wire, clad in plywood sheets, or even covered with boards. You can purchase a professionally manufactured wood composter if you dont want to build it. There are many great options online.
Wood frames will rot over time so there are other more durable options made from brick or cinder blocks. To build one of these bins, start by building the sides just like stacking a wall. The bin you build will not be moveable, so you should assemble it in a place you are content with. The bricks you use should be tight fitting to prevent drafts. For an even stronger structure, you may want to mortar the bricks together. Most brick and cinderblock compost bins are made with only three sides, leaving one side open for easier aeration of the piles and to be able to access your compost. A wire gate or sheet of plywood can be used on the front of the composter, and plywood can be used for a lid.
Prefab compost bins are lightweight and durable. An easy to make plastic bin is a garbage bin with holes drilled in it for drainage and aeration. Thhis might be a good choice if you want to go as inexpensive as possible.
The darker the bin the more it will absorb heat from the sun and help keep active bacteria at the proper temperature. Plastic compost bins often have vent holes and lids built-in, as well as sift trays or access panels at the bottom for removing finished compost.
Turning compost by hand can be a time consuming and physically taxing. Tumbling composters offer an alternative method to aerating your compost. Rather than using a pitchfork or an aerating tool, you can spin a tumbling composter and let gravity do the work for you. As the contents of the bin fall they run into the axle in the middle of the composter which breaks apart clumps of compost and keeps the bacteria alive and from turning sour.
There are also tumbling composters with hand cranks and even ones with electric motors. These have internal parts that help with the process. Rotating screws are common, as are fins and grinding gears. These complex composters can accelerate the composting process.
Wire, wood framed, plastic, and tumbling bins are also available with multiple compartments for compost. Multiple compartments allow compost to be divided based on its stage. Using batch composting method will get the fastest results. As each compartment fills up, there should be another compartment ready for you to empty out and use in your lawn and garden.
Another process for multi-stage is to use multiple bins. Throw your fresh materials into one bin until it is ¾ full. Then begin putting material to your second compost bin, while continuing to mix and aerate the first bin as it breaks down into finished compost. When one of the bins is finished, empty out the fresh compost and begin the process over again.