The Best Compost Bin...

... Is the Free or Cheap Garden Composter
... Your Town Makes Available

The best compost bin Is the free or subsidized garden composter you may be able to buy through your town or city.

My current backyard composter is a squarish, black plastic compost bin. I got it about 10 years ago from my town for about $20. Many towns have the same or similar bins available for residents and even if they give the bins away they are probably saving themselves and the taxpayers serious cash.

How Does My Town Save Money Giving Me a Garden Composter for Free?

A big part of any municipality's budget is solid waste management. They pay to pick up & transport waste. They also pay a tipping fee per ton to either the compost facility or landfill to dump the garbage.

In my town these costs add up to around $65 to $75 per ton. About 40% of most municipality's waste streams are organic garbage that would be best composted. For every ton we compost we save our town and taxpayers money.

Compost bin manufacturers such as the people making the Earth Machine Compost Bin advertise to municipalities and sell their backyard and garden composters by the truckload.

When I spoke to their reps about bringing a load to our small town we talked a price of $30 - $35. Given that these compost bins handle around 650 pounds or a third of a ton of waste per year, in my towns case saving $22.50 to $25, they pay for themselves in a little over a year even if the town gives the darn things away.

And you get free compost and a better garden.

What are These Bins Like?

These compost bins are usually

  • Made from black or dark green recycled plastic - helpful for heat and moisture retention.
  • Somewhere between 10 and 15 cubic feet, 80 - 120 gallons, 300 - 400 liters in volume - good for passive cool compost but too small for classic hot composting.
  • Last 10 years or more.
In essence what they do is keep compost material tidy and keeps critters such as dogs, racoons etc. out.

The down side of these garden composters is they are awkward to manage.

Tips for Working With Garden Composters such as the Earth Machine Compost Bins

When you have a garden composter similar to the Earth Machine Compost Bin you will be doing a passive, add as you go kind of composting. You will find it awkward to turn this compost to do the usual mixing and aerating that happens in larger more open compost piles.

Follow these tips as you add materials and you'll do just fine.

  • Mix your compost ingredients as you go. Balance high carbon materials or browns and high nitrogen materials or greens. Your kitchen wastes, including coffee grounds and tea bags or tea leaves, and weeds you might pull from the garden are greens. You need to mix them with browns - like dry leaves or shredded paper.
  • Keep things moist. The biggest reason for compost not decomposing is dry conditions. Basically you want it as moist as a squeezed out sponge. You may need to water it now and again.
  • Make air pockets as you go. The reason for turning a compost is to mix up the ingredients and to add air. Because in these little bins turning is pretty awkward just mix your materials as you add them and add a few air pockets. Things like a well moistened toilet paper or paper towel roll will help hold some air in the middle. You can also poke the compost with a steel rod or broom handle and kind of wiggle it round a bit to make an air hole.

When Will The Compost Be Ready?

Passive composting usually takes 6 months to a year before the compost is rotted enough to be ready. The stuff at the bottom is ready first of course.

These garden composters have little doors at the bottom for taking out compost. They drive me crazy. I just tip the whole thing over, pull out the dark compost and then pile up the rest of it back in the bin and carry on.

Check out A Homemade Compost Bin

  1. Compost Home
  2. Garden Composter