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How to Use a Compost Bin


Compost bins usually have a design that can quicken the process of decomposition of the organic matter with proper moisture retention and aeration. By combining moisture and air, you can set up the ideal environment for aerobic organisms to complete their activity. Through their activity, the temperature rises enough for the organic material to transform into compost.

The guide below will help you learn how to use a compost bin.

What Are Compost Bins?

Compost bins are basically containers where you can keep your organic waste while it turns into compost as time goes on. Some bins will have continuous designs where you can keep adding more waste, while others turn the waste into compost in batches. You will need to add all the ingredients for the compost at once for the latter.

It is the same process as compost heaps or piles do without a need for open space. In bins, you are also able to significantly speed up the decomposition process. The piles can also attract rats and other pests since they are out in the open. Depending on what bin style you choose for your compost, you can make it harder for the rats and pests to reach the compost.

There are many different kinds of compost bins, such as tumble, store-bought, and even homemade ones. You can add the following possible materials into the bin to create a compost:

    • Lumber
    • Branches that have been harvested from the forests or woods
    • Ceramic
    • Stone
    • Wire fencing
    • Plastic
    • Cinder blocks

You can add a combination of these or use the stand-alone method. We do recommend avoiding pressure-treated lumber if you are building one with lumber and using it for vegetable gardens.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Compost Bins

To learn how to use a compost bin, you should learn the difference between anaerobic and aerobic types. The word ‘aerobic’ refers to organisms that need oxygen from the atmosphere to survive. In gardening and landscaping, the term ‘aerobic compost’ is used often. Bins with well-designed aerobic compost systems maintain an environment where aerobic microorganisms can thrive. This is what most gardeners are looking for, but some also go for anaerobic composting.

Aerobic organisms are important because they create good compost. Without these, experts have found that the materials don’t really cook properly. While the compost is processing, if you put your hand into the bin, it should be hot to touch. This is because the aerobic organisms persist in ample quantity that is turning the matter into compost. For bins with an aerobic design, you need to make sure that the bin has ample opportunity to breathe.

You will have to use the correct mixture of different organic materials like kitchen scraps and yard waste as well as use the correct amount of water. You also need to turn the pile over routinely –we recommend using a pitchfork for this. The correct combination of all of these actions will ensure that the microorganisms get to work.

Anaerobic refers to organisms like bacteria that don’t need atmospheric oxygen to survive. The aerobic compost will thus come from the activity of such organisms that will impact the decomposition quality.

You need to turn aerobic piles quite frequently to make sure that compaction doesn’t occur. This keeps the oxygen moving through the pile, which keeps out the anaerobic organisms. In contrast, the anaerobic compost works through fermentation for the decomposition process. This kind of composting is definitely less focused on labor since you don’t need to routinely turn the pile over. However, it does have a bit of a nasty odor that may get you in trouble with the neighbors if your garden is too close to their place. Aerobic compost bins don’t stink if you maintain them properly.

How to Use a Compost Bin?

You can get compost bins ready-made from stores of different sizes like 220 liters or more. Since the average household has around 150kg of waste yearly, it can be great to compost all of this.

Find the Right Place for Compost Bins

The compost bin should be kept on any patch of bare soil so that the worms can make sure their way through the material. If you put the compost bin on a solid or smooth surface like paving or concrete slabs, you should make sure to place one layer of moist, fresh soil or even existing compost underneath the bin.

How to Fill the Compost Bin?

You can put pretty much any type of biodegradable material into the bin, but you should make sure not to throw in any fish, meat, or cooked foods since it can get rotten and release odors. You should make sure to keep a mixture of 1:1 browns and greens. Green materials include organic materials like food waste, coffee grounds, leaves, weeds, etc. Brown material includes household waste like tissue paper, cardboard, eggshells, straw, hay, etc.

We recommend keeping a bucket in the kitchen where you can collect different kinds of waste material that you can easily tip into the compost bin outside in the garden.

Let the Composting Process Run Its Course

With a good mix of different biodegradable materials, you can expect it to take around 6-9 months before it breakdowns into usable compost. You don’t need to do anything during this time. If you have an aerobic composting bin, we do recommend occasionally turning it over to let the oxygen move through.

Since the time frame for composting can be long, we do recommend getting two separate composting bins; while one gives you compost, you can add new waste to the other one.

How to Tell If It’s Ready?

The compost will be ready to use when it turns into a crumbly, dark material that has an earthy, fresh smell. You shouldn’t worry about any visible twigs or eggshells since that is normal. You can now use the compost to enhance your flower or vegetable garden, planters, or lawn since it is packed with nutrients.

We hope you know how to use a compost bin now!