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How to Choose the Best Composting Bin for Your Garden - Good and Bad Features

By Edited Dec 31, 2013 1 3

Choosing the Best Composting Bin

Choosing the best composting bin is confusing and tricky especially when ordering online without seeing the composter in person.  Distilling information from hundreds of composting bins reviews, we explain what composter features give a benefit or lead to problems.


Here are the best features to look for in a great composting bin.  All the deficiencies seen in the disappointing composters you should avoid are noted too.  We have concentrated on outdoor home and garden type composting drums and rotating composting bins

If you want a simple explanation of what to look out for when shopping for the best composting bin, read on.  Composting bins reviews are easily found on specific models of composting bins.

Great Features of the Best Composting Bin

    Arrival

    After fast processing, shipping and arrival, the best composting bin comes assembled for immediate use or is very simple to build.  There should be no parts missing or broken.  Another thoughtful detail is minimal packaging and waste on shipping.

    Materials

    The best composting bin is made of as much recycled materials as possible.  Thick, hard-wearing, durable plastic that lasts for years is a must.  Both softer and tougher plastics seem to deal with freezing temperatures the best.  If the composter is made of dark coloured material, there is maximum heat absorption and composting can happen year round and faster at cooler temperatures.

    The composting bin should have no small breakable plastic or rusting metal hardware.  Usually the more assembly required in the beginning, the more of these there are to lose, break or degrade.

      Design and access

      People like composting bins that are compact, neat, tidy and attractive.  A pet peeve is composting drums that drip or leak liquids or small organic particles like coffee grounds.  With an efficient design, the best composting bin is large enough to hold lots of compost.  Having a mobile, easily moved composter helps on filling and if a new location if desired.  Mobility is a useful characteristic that si used surprisingly often.

      User friendly means friendly to the user and wide easy access at a good height for adding materials and removing compost is really important.  Many people send their kids out to turn the composter, and children love being part of the recycling and composting movement.  By having a composter so easily turned (even when full) that a child can do it is a great feature.

      May people say the composter being stable and keeping it's overall shape, structure and strength on uneven ground is important.  Having to empty and refill a composter because it is leaning or bulging and popping rivets is not a task anyone wants to do.  Not having it rolling around the neighborhood in high winds is also a plus.

      Neighborhood dogs, skunks, raccoons and other rodent pests can make an awful mess of choice kitchen scraps.  Having the composter resistant to tipping and lid removal by large pests is imperative.  There should be no large open holes or thin plastic for access and chewing by small creatures.

      Composting

      The best composting bin  composts household and garden organics fast, with effective odor-free composting.  It requires adequate aeration and drainage to keep compost moist but not too wet.  Also good internal agitating structures to break up clumps in the compost.  

      The composter has to be large enough to provide enough bulk of compost to keep the composting process going in winter timeid needed.

      Value

      The best composting bin is great value, quality at a reasonable price.  Having a long warranty period gives peace of mind and usually means there is less to go wrong with a composting product.

        Weaknesses Seen in Disappointing Composters

        Arrival

        The worst rated compost bins are time consuming and complicated to assemble with poor instructions.  Some are even possible to build incorrectly, requiring rebuilds later.  If extra tools are required or a trip to the hardware store that is a definite strike.

        Nothing is more frustrating than spending money on a new product and having missing or broken parts, or delays in processing and shipping.

          Materials

          Many of the composters that require complicated assembly have lots of small breakable or easily-rusted hardware.  Small breakable plastic hardware, knobs, handles and latches are best avoided as there is the potential to fail.  Low quality metal parts can quickly fracture, bend or rust. 

          Bending support-hardware can lead to plastic tearing or splitting and is difficult to repair.  Thin fragile plastic composting drums can also break or shatter after prolonged U/V exposure or at cold temperatures.  Choose wisely for your climate.

          Design and access

          If the composter is too small it will fill quickly and not have sufficient bulk for winter composting nin colder climates.  Make sure the composter barrel has a good 36" dimension for maximum composting at cool temperatures.

          Narrow access for putting waste in the composter or a tricky door to open requiring 2 hands are pet peeves.  If the access is too high for comfort, manual turning is hard on the back if one can reach and a face full of fruit flies can be another unpleasant side effect. Composters that drip liquids or small organic particles on the owner when turning are particularly loathed.

          One of the main complaints to the usefulness of a composting bin is how well the compost can be turned or tumbled.  If a composter is impossible or difficult to turn when full, it cannot be used to make the fast hot compost, and will be less efficient.  It also excludes the younger members of the family joining in this great green activity!

          If a composter is unstable on uneven ground or in high winds then it is a nuisance.  Often the composters raised on a stand above the ground fall into this category.  If pests can knock it over then there a mess to clean up.  It seems composters are either difficult, bulky and heavy to move or they are top-heavy and easily knocked over, so be aware.  If you don't need a mobile compost, go for the bulky stable type.

          Composting

          The main composting complaints are the foul odor that comes from improper composting.  This is nearly always from inadequate aeration and drainage or lack of water barrier at the top.  Excessive water ingress from melting snow or rain keeps the compost wet and foul-smelling. 

          If internal agitating structures are non-existent or poor, clumps of matted compost need a fork to manually break them up.  This is not a favorite task and made worse when access is high or narrow. 

          The composting process stops when pile temperature falls too low.  A compost heap will usually produce it's own heat with the composting process.  If there is too small a volume composting will be slower and more the 'cold' type.  This ties up the composter for long periods of time, often requiring the purchase of another.

          Removing the finished compost after is it done is another often overlooked composter function.  Having an easily opened and accessed opening will save time and your back.  Do not choose a composter with a tiny opening as it will frustrate you!

            I hope this article on the features of best composting bins helps in your composter quest!  There are occasionally articles with summaries of composting bins reviews  for specific popular and top-selling composters.  These summaries help you choose the best composting bin based on other peoples trial and error!

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            Comments

            Oct 16, 2011 6:04pm
            oxfordian
            I have a big (and I mean BIG) metal drum mounted on a stand and it has a handle to crank it around. I think the name of it is Compost Tumbler and it is GREAT. I love it. I've had it for years and it's been out in the rain and snow and still looks brand new. Thanks for the article!
            Oct 16, 2011 6:07pm
            oxfordian
            P.S. Yup. It's Compost Tumbler. You have an ad for it on your page and I clicked on it. It's the one. I have the biggest one, but I want to buy about 6 more (I have a lot of property now). When I'm ready to get them, I'll come back to your page and get them through your link!
            Oct 16, 2011 10:30pm
            skeffling
            Oxfordian, thanks for commenting. It is good to hear what model people like, and it sounds like a great quality composter! It seems with the tumbling composters if you can have a few, they are way easier to turn when they are not over-full and then the composting is way faster.

            That is great you have more space now, I love having space here, and that's a very kind offer. Thanks.
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