Yesterday I talked about the Ten Commandments of Composting. The First Commandment was to pick the right composting bin. You want your bin to be a container that allows air to enter, keeps rodents and rain out, keeps heat in and looks more attractive than just some pile of rotting leaves and fruit, especially if you have neighbors. A bin will also do one more thing – it will save you space in your garden.
You can build your own bin or buy a prefabricated one. They need to have open bottoms, covered top, and enclosed sides that still allow air to enter, but with openings too small for mice or other pesky varmints.
Another option is to use a prefabricated plastic bin. There are several common types. The predominant version is like an open-bottom garbage can. Compost goes in on top (with lid removed, of course), and out comes wonderful organic compost out the trap door at the base. Of course, it is not quite so simple as this!
Remember, one of the keys to composting is that you need to turn the pile every few weeks to keep air circulating and speed the decomposition process. This type of bin is actually a bit difficult to reach into with a gardening fork or spade to turn the material. Often it is easier to just lift the bin up off the composting pile, move it a few feet away, then spade all of the compost into the newly moved bin, aerating and turning the pile in the process.
My choice is the BioStack composter. It consists of three stackable sections.
The beauty of this alternative is in the turning process. The Biostack allows you to take one level off at t a time, move it, shivel in the compost, then add the next section and so forth. This makes turning the pile relatively easy and keeps the pile contained at all times.
I got mine from Smith & Hawken, but with them going out of business recently, I am not sure if the Biostack is still available. There are other versions of the same principle, however.
There are many other types of bins to choose from. Spend an inspirational evening at home googling “compost bin” and let your eyes wander far and wide!
You’ll see bins that make the turning process very easy – they rotate on a spindle. I’ve never used one of these, but I have heard that since compost tends to be pretty wet, these bins get a bit leaky and full of water, with no place for the moisture to go. Give it a try though and let me know how they work!
For more info, go to http://www.howtocompost.org/
Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life and Our World, by Michael Abbaté, published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, 2009. ISBN 978-0-30744-499-8. For more info: www.michaelabbate.com