Composting is a straightforward and eco-friendly way to transform your kitchen scraps into a nutrient-rich soil additive that nourishes your garden while reducing landfill waste. According to Mary Phillips, the Head of the Garden for Wildlife™ habitat program at the National Wildlife Federation, composting allows you to harness the nutritional value of food scraps and other discarded kitchen waste to create safe, effective, and free fertilizers for your garden.
To assist you in selecting the best compost bin for your needs, we conducted research on various composting methods and identified the ideal containers for each type. Our assessment considered factors such as ease of use, required maintenance, and effectiveness. Continue reading to discover the top compost bins that can help promote healthy garden beds and landscapes in your yard.
The Aerobin 400 composter is an excellent choice for gardeners who are committed to composting but prefer a low-maintenance approach. Its spacious 400-liter capacity can easily handle all your kitchen scraps and garden clippings, and its innovative design ensures efficient decomposition without requiring you to turn the pile. The bin’s unique structure promotes adequate airflow throughout the composting materials, while its double insulated walls maintain optimal temperatures even during colder months.
In addition to its practical benefits, the Aerobin 400 also features an odor-sealing design that keeps curious rodents at bay and maintains a pleasant environment for your friends and family. While the cost of the Aerobin 400 may be higher than other composting options, its efficient and innovative features make it well worth the investment for serious gardeners who value both convenience and performance.
FCMP Outdoor Tumbling Composter
Advantages: The elevated design of this outdoor tumbling bin serves as a deterrent to rodents. Additionally, its dual-sided drum allows you to fill one side while the other decomposes.
Disadvantages: According to some reviewers, assembly can be challenging.
This outdoor tumbling bin has garnered over 11,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Although our experts have not yet evaluated it, we appreciate its elevated design, which effectively deters rodents. The bin’s black plastic construction is UV-resistant and incorporates recycled content, and this material helps to trap heat and maintain an optimal environment for composting.
With a capacity of 37 gallons, this bin features two compartments, enabling you to continuously add organic waste to one side while the other side decomposes. However, several reviewers have noted that the assembly instructions can be difficult to follow.
Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50
During the previous summer, I received a Vitamix FoodCycler FC-30 electric composter (predecessor to the current Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50) as a gift, which has significantly reduced my family’s food waste and produced fertilizer for our garden. Although we had already been composting through our city’s curbside-pickup program, I initially thought the appliance was unnecessary. However, the FoodCycler’s impressive efficiency has made it a nearly constant presence in our home since then.
The compact size of the FoodCycler, comparable to that of an 18-pack of toilet paper rolls, allows it to fit easily into a closet or cupboard. Additionally, it operates quietly, making it easy to use regularly. The FoodCycler is capable of breaking down fruit cores, vegetable peels, dairy, and certain meat scraps into a dry, organic matter that serves as an excellent fertilizer for our garden beds. Although it technically does not produce compost, the by-product of dried and ground food waste serves as a fertilizer. (If you purchase a dehydrator, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.) The appliance dries and grinds scraps, dramatically reducing their volume within just a few hours (the timing depends on the contents’ wetness or thickness). We clean the bucket between loads, and sometimes a little extra scrubbing is required to remove any hardened food. Regular filter changes, approximately every three to four months, are necessary for this machine as well.
Despite the required maintenance, the FoodCycler has proven to be worth the effort. Even if you are not a gardener, it remains an excellent choice for reducing your household’s food waste.
Utopia Kitchen Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop
The Utopia Kitchen Compost Bin, with a capacity of 1.3 gallons, is an attractive and durable option for holding kitchen waste until it can be transferred to an outdoor compost tumbler or worm bin. It is made of high-quality grade 201 stainless steel that can withstand wear and tear without scratching or chipping. The bin comes equipped with charcoal filters that effectively trap odors, preventing pests and unpleasant smells from building up in your home. During our testing, we found this compost bin to be easy to clean and lightweight, even when filled with compost. It can be conveniently placed on a kitchen countertop or hidden under a cabinet, thanks to its compact size. It also comes with a replacement filter, and we found that using liners (compost bags) helped minimize mess and the need for cleaning. However, it may be too small for some composters, and removing the lid to add waste can be cumbersome. Additionally, when the bin is full, compost can stick to the lid. Product Specs: Material: Stainless steel Capacity: 1.3 gallons Difficulty level: Beginner Pros:
- Compact size can fit on a countertop or in small spaces
- Stylish silver finish complements various decor styles
- Can be used with or without liners
- Includes an extra carbon filter to limit odors Cons:
- May not be large enough for some composters
- Removing the lid can be challenging
- Compost may stick to the lid when the bin is full
Krikoris Garden Thermo Compost Bin
Unlike basic plastic composters that require manual aeration by turning over the compost, the Krikoris bin offers a range of user-friendly features. With ventilated sides and latched lids on both the top and one side, this bin provides proper aeration without the need for manual intervention. Additionally, it can be set up on four legs, allowing for easy drainage of excess liquid. If you prioritize convenience in your gardening routine, the Krikoris bin is worth considering.
What to Know About Compost Bins Before Shopping
When shopping for a compost bin, several factors need to be considered to ensure you choose the right one for your needs. One important aspect is location, whether you plan to use it outdoors or indoors. For outdoor composting, UV- and weather-resistant bins are best, while indoor composters should have replaceable filters to prevent unwanted odors in your kitchen.
Another factor to consider is capacity, depending on the amount of organic waste your household generates. Outdoor bins can hold up to 174 gallons of waste, while indoor options usually hold only one to three gallons and require frequent emptying.
The material of the compost bin is also important. Plastic bins are good conductors of heat and compost faster but may not be visually appealing. Cedar bins have a better aesthetic but take several months to produce compost. Indoor compost bins should be made of rust-resistant metal or sleek plastic for easy cleaning.
The purpose of the compost bin should also be considered. Countertop processors, enclosed bins, and compact tumblers work well for indoor use, while large tumblers and wooden bins are great for outdoor areas. If you plan to donate your compost to a community bin, a portable option with sturdy handles and easy disposal is ideal. For those starting a compost site in their yard, dual-chamber bins allow you to add new organic waste to the pile without disturbing the compost that’s being decomposed.
First things first: What is composting?
Composting has two parts to it: the front end and the back end. “The front end is waste management; rather than throwing food waste in the trash, we take what someone considers a waste material and process it into a valuable soil amendment for plant growth and reproduction in our backyards,” Carr told me over a phone call, right after he said, “I’ll call you back in 10 minutes, I’m in the field.” A true expert, to say the least.
The other part is conferring the benefit of making our plants healthy — using composting as a resource rooted in conservation. Once your compost bin’s pile is ready, it can be dispersed into your soil as a natural fertilizer.
“For the individual, it can save you money,” Carr explains further. “Your waste costs are lower and you don’t have to buy fertilizer and, at the end of the day, it kind of feels good that you can take this nasty food waste material and turn it into this nice dark, crumbly valuable soil amendment.”
How to shop for the best compost bin for you
Everybody is going to want something different in a compost bin, with a few considerations to take into account, according to Carr.
“You have to keep in mind how large you want it, which is dictated by how much waste you and your family generates,” he said. “Convenience is another thing: where are you going to put it? Is it a plastic bin you’re going to place next to your house, or is it a chicken-wire bin that’s going to be moved a little farther away?”
Material is another frame of reference when scouring the market for a good compost bin. The outdoor containers are mostly made of wood, plastic or metal. After years of experience, Carr’s favorite is a welded-wire bin. “It’s metal, holds up, can be shaped into whatever size you want, is lightweight and seems to be the most cost-effective and user-friendly as well.”
What can you compost?
“You can compost anything nature can break down,” Carr explains. “With that said, there are some items that can cause problems if you don’t do it right; meats, dairy, fats, oils and fermented items aren’t recommended for beginner composters.” But, if you’re experienced, “you can take an entire cow and compost that,” he said.
Yes, you can compost weeds, too. “Over time, the compost pile will break down some of those weed seeds,” Carr said. “You’re going to have weeds in your garden regardless if you compost.”
When will my compost be ready?
According to Carr, turning a compost more than once a year is a tall order (even taller depending on the size of your bin. “I turn it once a year in the spring and let it sit for a year,” he said, explaining the process he mastered over time. “After two years, 100% of the bin is ready to go. After one year, 50% is ready to go.”