The Best Compost Bins, According to Gardeners and Farmers

No matter your setup, there’s a way to help turn your kitchen scraps into garden gold.

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April 28, 2022

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Photo by: Photo courtesy of Pela Earth

Photo courtesy of Pela Earth

Compost is the key to a healthy garden, whether you are growing food for your family or flowers everyone can enjoy. Adding compost to your soil makes it easier to work, increases its fertility and help the soil hold moisture so you don’t have to water the garden as often. One of the best things about compost is that you can make your own from kitchen scraps and old newspapers otherwise destined for the trash, or the debris from your yard, like autumn leaves and grass clippings. Composting can be made by simply collecting the materials in a pile, but gardeners, ever resourceful, have devised composters that get the job done faster, easier and even a little less messily. Here’s a list of great composters to help get your composting life off to a great start.

Bins

Bins are the most common composters, but there are several types to choose from, based on your garden size, and how and where you garden.

$479.95

For the serious, yet a little bit lazy gardener, the Aerobin 400 composter is large enough to break down all your kitchen scraps and garden clippings simply and efficiently within its 400-liter capacity. A unique design allows for adequate airflow throughout the materials inside the bin, eliminating the need to turn the pile. Double insulated walls keep the compost at optimum temperature even during colder months, while also sealing in odors that attract curious rodents or repel friends and family. This one is special, and well worth the price.

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$349.00

Simple cedar bins are attractive and functional, but this one from Gardener’s Supply Company in Vermont is one of the best. Rot-resistant cedar panels held together with aluminum corners provide long-lasting durability. The top access panel makes it easy to add to and turn the pile, while a locking bottom access panel keeps curious critters out. The handsome construction allows you to place this composter right in the garden, near a path or among some flowers. It’s part compost maker, part garden feature.

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$229.00

Probably one of the simplest ways to compost is with a 3-bin wire cage system. Easy to set up, the structure consists of three four-foot square bins that have ample space for yard debris and kitchen scraps. Open to the sky on rainy days and perfectly ventilated with cage sides, these bins provide an excellent environment for the microbes that break down compost materials. Ginny Black, Chair of the Minnesota Composting Council, stresses the importance of keeping your composting system wet to promote the microbes that do the job. "An open-air composter makes that easy," she says. Sometimes low cost and simplicity are the right way to go, and this 3-bin system does the trick.

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$214.00

This clever device literally buries your compost into the garden where it can break down and release valuable organic material directly into the soil while also providing an excellent environment for quick decomposition. Taking a cue from traditional techniques that bury the compost materials, the Sub Pod is the perfect blend of the pit and bin methods. Nick Catsumpas, a.k.a. Farmer Nick, one of my favorite Plantfluencers on Instagram, "LOVES the Sub Pod because it’s a composter and raised bed all in one." This type of composting promotes the earth worm population in your garden beds, which is a sure sign of healthy soil.

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$38.99

If a temporary composting system, easy to set up, break down, store and/or transport, is what you need, then look no further than the GeoBin. This simple roll of durable aerated plastic sets up in minutes with several stiff stakes. Place it where it will get some morning sun and is open to the sky and start composting that same day. With a capacity of 33 cubic feet, it’s best suited for kitchen scraps and paper waste. Made from recycled materials right here in the USA, GeoBin is the lowest cost composting system you can buy. Set one up in the spring for a season of composting at the summer rental, then take it down and pack it up when your lease expires. Perfect for the gardener on the go!

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Tumblers

Tumblers work fast, producing finished compost in just a few weeks. They are also perfect for keeping critters at bay, which is why they are recommended for urban gardens. Self-contained so the compost never touches the ground, tumblers are perfectly suited for use on decks and patios, close to the kitchen door.

Mantis was the first word in compost tumblers, and the quality of their products proves it. Early versions were extra-large, designed for rural gardeners with plenty of material to work with. This compact version is suited for any suburban, or urban gardener. Material goes in the easy access door, and after a few weeks of tumbling, fresh compost is ready to use. Set on a rack with wheels, it’s easy to move out of the way for those family get togethers or transport the finished compost directly to the garden beds. With a capacity of four bushels (that’s farmer-talk for five cubic feet) is just the right size for the food waste of a family of four.

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$87.99

I’m a big fan of the dual-batch compost tumbler because it allows you to fill one chamber and continue to spin it while the filling the second. The result is cleaner compost quicker, with less sifting of undecomposed material from the finished product. The IM4000 is the original eight-sided dual-tumbler designed and built in the USA. No digging and turning required, just close the door, spin in a few times a week and you’ll have ready compost in less than a month. Best for kitchen scraps, its smaller size makes it perfect for the deck or patio.

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Kitchen Counter Composter

$499.00

So, what is a LOMI? Its creators describe it as an electric composter that sits on your kitchen counter. Simply place your food scraps inside, push the button and LOMI turns it into compost … or so they say. While LOMI does convert kitchen scraps into a rich material that looks like compost — it certainly doesn’t look like the food anymore – according to Kevin Espiritu, creator of the Epic Gardening podcast, what LOMI makes isn’t ready-for-the-garden compost. What it makes is excellent compost material that still needs a week or two in the compost pile mixed with carbon-rich ingredients like newspaper or cardboard. Nice and compact, LOMI does make an excellent, albeit pricey, food waste bucket that eliminates the yuck factor and gets the composting process started.

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Alternatives

For larger gardens and the DIYer, there’s a simple technique for making biodegradable bins using hay bales. Apothecary Gardener, Michael Blakeney builds them in his Bedford, NY garden. Simply stack the bales to make a three-sided enclosure and start filling the bin. Over the course of several years the hay itself will add to the compost as the bales slowly break down. When that happens, build another one! You can buy hay bales at local farm stores, which are always fun to visit on a sunny spring weekend.

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