Shopping and then purchasing a compost bin for your home can save space in landfills and provide you with a highly effective natural fertilizer called humus. Humus reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, which saves money and improves the environment.
Although you don't need a bin to compost, you can "heap compost" by making loose piles of compost in your yard. Bin composting is less messy and more attractive. You're also less likely to attract pests or wild animals if your compost is contained in a bin.
There are three main types of compost bins: mobile holding bins, stationary bins and tumblers. Mobile compost bins are movable bins made from wire, wood or plastic. You can turn the compost in a mobile bin by picking up the bin, placing it elsewhere and raking the compost into the bin's new location. Mobile compost bins typically cost between $5 and $100, according to Florida's Online Composting Center.
Stationary bins are constructed from wood, plastic, concrete or wire. You can't move a stationary compost bin, but you can turn the compost by removing the compost from the stationary bin and then putting it back in. Stationary compost bins typically cost between $20 and $150.
You can use mobile or stationary bins in a multi-bin system. In a multi-bin compost system, you begin collecting compost in one bin and then move it to the second bin when it needs to be turned. You then begin adding new material to the first compost bin, and once it's ready to move, you transfer the second bin's compost into the third bin and the first bin's compost into the second bin.
Tumbler compost bins, also called drum compost bins, are easier to turn than mobile and stationary bins because the bin turns itself automatically or with a hand crank. These bins are usually constructed from plastic or metal and are the most effective at keeping out pests. However, they are also the most expensive type of bin, costing between $100 and $400.
You can make a compost bin from wood and wire or adapt another container, such as a rubber storage box, into a compost bin. You can also purchase compost bins online at retailers including Amazon, Gaiam.com and Gardeners.com, and at stores such as Target, Walmart and Home Depot.
Once you have a compost bin, you can start composting immediately! You can compost many kitchen scraps, such as bread, fruit and vegetable scraps and peels, coffee grounds, eggshells and tealeaves. You can also compost leaves, grass clippings, paper, cardboard, straw, evergreen needles, potting soil and garden waste.
Don't compost fats, including lard, mayonnaise, oils or salad dressings. In addition, don't compost pet waste or kitty litter, peanut butter, diseased plants, meat, fish scraps, bones, dairy products or painted or treated wood. You should also avoid composting pesticide-treated grass clippings, black walnut tree leaves or twigs,
Your compost is ready to use when it looks like rich, crumbly dark soil and has an earthy aroma. Shredding wastes into smaller pieces before adding them and turning your compost regularly will make your compost develop faster, but it's not necessary. Wastes will still decompose without turning, they'll just take longer. Your compost will take between a few months and a year to develop.