Having your own composter is a fantastic way to recycle that unwanted food and yard waste and turn it into something useful. Natural compost is made up of decomposed organic material such as food scraps, leaves, and shredded twigs. Some gardeners even refer to as “black gold” because of the fantastic effect it has on garden soil.
There are a lot of different composters available to buy. If you’ve only just decided to get one, you may be wondering where to start. Keep reading for some great tips and useful information that will help make finding the best composter for you a little less stressful.
What to Consider When Buying a Composter
Don’t let buying a composer become a daunting experience. The following section will take you through some of the things to consider when buying a composter. Not only will this help you understand what type may be the best composter for you, it will also help you get to know the kind of things to look for when making your purchase.
There are many types of composters available these days, all of which have their own pros and cons. But the three most popular types are:
1. Stationary compost bin
This is the most basic form of compost bin. It is essentially a large, plastic, open-bottomed enclosure with a lid. Most of these bins are pretty easy on the eye and, being made of plastic, they’re pretty durable too. You’ll find that stationary bins will also have the largest capacity, so if you know you’re going to have a lot of waste or you’re looking to produce a lot of compost, this may be the best option for you.
Another great feature of stationary composters is that the open bottom is ideal for enabling good drainage and for allowing earthworms in to work their magic. Not only are earthworms super efficient creatures when it comes to breaking down compost but they also leave behind worm castings rich in nutrients to help your garden thrive. The downside to a stationary compost bin is you need to put in a lot of work to get any quick results. You can let the pile sit and wait for nature to do its thing, but this will take much longer.
2. Compost tumbler
If you’re looking to produce compost quickly, a compost tumbler may be best for you. Turning compost on a regular basis aerates it and keeps it cooking. The result is high quality, natural compost in a shorter space of time. Compost tumblers, by design, make turning the compost easy. As a general rule of thumb, compost tumblers have a smaller capacity than stationary compost bins. They’re also more expensive.
On the upside, most are very easy to use and work very well. Features vary from model to model, but one really useful feature to look out for is a double-sided bin. This will allow you to add more waste in one side while allowing the other side to cook undisturbed. Compost tea collectors are also a great added extra. These drain the nutrient-rich liquid from the compost, allowing you to use it in your garden as organic fertilizer.
3. Worm composter
As mentioned previously, worm castings are by far one of the best forms of natural, nutrient-rich, organic fertilizers that you can get. You can buy worm castings already pre-packaged, but they’re pretty expensive. So why not make them yourself at home? Worm composters consist of multiple levels of trays filled with worms, usually red wigglers. To use a worm composter, simply add your waste material to one of the layers and let the red wigglers get to work. When all the food in one tray’s been digested simply add another above it.
The worms work their way upward over time, leaving all their castings to accumulate at the bottom. With a worm composter, you’ll have usable compost in around three months. An added feature you may find on some of these composters is a spigot to drain the liquid. This liquid is a concentrated fertilizer that will work wonders on your garden soil. The biggest downside to worm composters is that they have the smallest capacity out of all the composter types. But, if you’re looking to produce a higher quality compost, this may be the best option for you.
The size of the composter you need will largely depend on what you intend to use it for and how many people will be using it. There’s not much point in getting a huge stationary compost bin when you live all alone and have a tiny garden. Conversely, if you have a large family and want to produce enough compost to fertilize a large yard, a worm composter just won’t cut it. Choose the best composter to suit your needs.
Ease of use
Another really important factor to take into consideration when buying a composter for the first time is how easy it is to use. The last thing you want to do is buy a fancy looking composter only to discover that it’s really hard to use. Compost tumblers are ideal for beginners because they’re the easiest to work with.
They don’t need a lot of maintenance and they produce compost pretty quickly. Simply throw in your scraps and give it a turn every couple of days or so. Stationary compost bins are a lot bigger in terms of capacity but they require a lot more manual labor. They also take longer to produce compost. When it comes to worm composters, although they technically do all the work, you still need to ensure the conditions are right for them. Get that right and you’ll have some of the highest quality compost around.
You’ll find that most outdoor composters are made of plastic. This is because plastic is really good at retaining the kind of heat required for composting. However, be aware that some of the cheaper composters out there are made using really thin plastic that is likely to break sooner rather than later. Some compost bins are also made of wood, since wood is another great retainer of heat. Just make sure that the wood being used is rot-resistant, such as cedar.
While it’s important to ensure the temperature in your composter remains high enough to do the job at hand, it’s equally important to have adequate ventilation. Air circulation is very important when it comes to composting, as it’s an aerobic process. This means that air is a requirement to be able to decompose material effectively. So just make sure that whatever type of composter you opt for, there’s adequate airflow moving through.
Jora Composter Tumbler JK270
It may be one of the more expensive composters available, but once you use the Jora Composter Tumbler you’ll find it hard to use any others, as nothing quite compares. Made using galvanized sheet metal, this 70-gallon composter tumbler is one tough model. It’s durable, rust-proof, and very well made.
The inside of this composter is fully insulated with dual compartments for continued use. Simply add your new material one side while allowing the old material to mature undisturbed. And, because of its super insulation, it’s able to produce compost in as little as two weeks. The Jora Composter Tumbler is super easy to assemble and even comes equipped with a wall mount to give extra support while in use.
Nature’s Footprint Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter
This compact little composter is great in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s one of the most efficient, best looking, affordable composters available right now and would suit anyone looking to produce some high-quality compost.
The Nature’s Footprint Worm Factory comes with 4 trays as standard but is expandable up to 8 trays, making it one of the largest of its kind on the market. There is a built-in spigot and collector tray to make draining nice and easy, and the innovative lid converts into a stand to help while harvesting. The other great thing about this composter is there’s virtually no assembly required other than stacking the trays on top of one another.
FCMP Outdoor Dual Body Tumbling Composter by HOTFROG
If you’re looking for a composter that not only performs well but looks good too, then be sure to check out this funky little 37-gallon composter made by FCMP Outdoor. It’s a lean, green, composting machine that will look great in just about any outdoor space. It has an excellent aeration system and is super easy to use.
Simply add your waste material, close the door, and turn it a few times every other day or so. In as little as two weeks, under the right conditions, you can have quality compost ready to spread on your garden. Setup of this composter is very easy using nothing more than a screwdriver and a wrench.
Kotulas 50-Gallon Wheeled Compost Tumbler
When it comes to usability, this Kotulas composter has it figured out. Not only is it made using heavy-duty steel and recycled plastic, but the generous 50-gallon drum also sits on two wheels to allow for easy transporting. No more traipsing across the yard with a bucket full of compost. Simply roll the composter to where you want to fertilize and away you go.
The composter’s built-in mixing fins prevent clumping, while it’s unique air circulation system helps to speed up the composting process. There is some minor assembly required with this tumbler, but it’s nothing too daunting and shouldn’t take you too long to put together.
Triformis Soilsaver Classic Composter
The Soilsaver Composter is a classic example of a stationary compost bin. It’s made of 100% recycled plastic and has 2 slide-up doors to help with the removal of compost when it’s ready. There are 4 interchangeable sides to this composter and a locking lid to keep unwanted animals out.
Assembly is pretty easy and it doesn’t take much effort to use. But that’s where the good points end I’m afraid, and for the hefty price tag it supports, that’s just not good enough. The problems that make this far from the best composter are all in connection with quality. The plastic is thin and flimsy and the overall quality is lacking when compared to many others of a similar price. And if you want a base, you have to pay extra!
So Which is the Best Composter?
If you’re looking for an outdoor composter that’s durable, of a decent size, and does a really good job at producing high-quality compost without too much effort, be sure to check out the Jora Composter Tumbler JK270. Unlike all the other composters included in this review, it’s made of galvanized steel meaning it’s going to last a very long time.
And, with a generous 70-gallon capacity, it’s bigger than the Kotulas, FCMP Outdoor, and Nature’s Workshop composters. It is plenty big enough to serve the needs of most average sized families and gardens. Overall, it’s made using high-quality materials, super easy to use, and produces great results. What more could you ask for from an outdoor composter?