More Composting Methods
or How to Compost, page 2



This page covers the composting methods we mentioned but did not explain on page 1, How to Compost .


Container or Holding Method

Similar to the wire bin or cage method, the container method utilizes a structure either built or purchased to facilitate the production of compost.

Commercially available container or holding composters are small and lightweight. Some are made from recycled plastic materials. They look neat and clean in a corner of the garden.

The photo on the right shows an Earth Machine composter. It is simple to operate. Twist off the lid to add your garden waste and pull out the drawer at the bottom to access your garden gold.

Earth Machine Compost maker


Compost materials need to be moist and warm to cook. Container or holding style composters retain moisture and heat.

Most are designed with strategically placed air vents to help regulate moisture & fresh air flow. This speeds up the composting process.

Some advertisements for compost making containers state that you never need to turn the pile.

I tend to believe that this yields an end product that is not uniform. Well composted in some areas and not finished in others. But I have seen some very good reviews for them.

If you do end up with clumpy compost. I would think that it would be an easy task to put the larger pieces back in for another round.

If anyone would like to voice their composting views or provide us with a first hand review of one of these products, please use the Form at the bottom of the page.



Soil Saver Compost Bin, composter box

This is a Soil Saver compost bin. It is just another container method with a different design. I am sure that a quick web search would bring up a dozen more styles.

Are you working with a very tight family budget? If so, than may I suggest the do it yourself, trash can composter?

composting trash can diy

A galvanized trash can and lid, hammer and large punch are all your need to complete this DIY project. Using the hammer and punch (or small length of pipe, whatever you have handy) you need to perforate the can at regular intervals.

Now add your garden and kitchen waste and wait. Remember to stir it every few days and add a few cups of water if it looks dried out.

This is not the ideal method for everyone, because you will need to lift the can to empty it. So it may not suffice for someone with a bad back or some other physical limitation.


Rotary or Tumbler

This composting method will probably have your highest initial expenditure, but costs nothing to operate and should last for a decade or more. Most are made of dark colored, plastic composite materials, making them heat absorbing and lightweight.

There are probably 2 dozen styles on the market today. Each one with different sizes and features. Most models without a handcrank are the easier for a gardener with a handicap or mobility issues to operate. You will need to do your homework to ensure your choice is the best for you.

Rotary Compost Maker

The principal is simple. Compost needs to be moist and warm to cook. Rotary tumblers keep the moisture and heat in while making turning the pile simpler. You can turn the pile every few days with ease. This speeds up the composting process and you can have finished compost in as little as 3 weeks.

We purchased our rotary style compost maker on eBay. It is a homemade monster. Although it is not as easy to get the compost out of it as my wire bin or some of the commercially available tumbler style composters, I do like it.

During the summer I add water, spin it a few times and position it so I can catch the compost tea in a bucket underneath. The tomatoes, garlic and flowers love compost tea. All the plants benefit from it.

I can not make the tea using the wire bins and I can not empty the tumbler alone, so each composting method has its advantages and drawbacks.


Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project

Vermicomposting

Also known as worm compost, worm castings, worm humus, worm manure or vermicast. Vermicompost is similar to other methods of composting except that it uses worms in addition to microbes and bacteria to turn organic waste into a nutrient dense, organic fertilizer.

The most common worms used in vermicomposting are Red Wriggler and Red Earthworms. These are not usually found in garden soil. You can not just dig up some worms in your yard & use them. Red Wriggler and Red Earthworms are adapted to the special conditions in found in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles.

This method of composting is more expensive than some of the others, but it can be utilized by the handicapped or those gardeners with limited mobility. The worm houses are usually small and lightweight.

The biggest drawback to a Pocono gardener is the worms can not tolerate our winters. The worm house must be moved into a greenhouse, garage or basement to keep them alive through the colder months. Not everyone loves the idea of a thousand worms in the basement.

Worm Houses

Worm houses or bins are usually made of plastic or plastic composite material or wood. The need drainage and ventilation holes for moisture to exit & fresh air to enter. The two most popular types of worm houses are non-continuous and continuous vertical.

Non-continuous bins are undivided containers that start with a layer of moist bedding materials, shredded paper, burlap or partially decomposed leaves to line the bottom. Add worms and organic matter for composting on top of the bedding. Once the worms have composted most of the organic matter, another layer is added on top.

When the house is almost full and you can no longer see large pieces of individual organic materials, it is time to harvest your compost. Empty the entire contents over a screen and agitate to sift the worms out of the composted materials. The worms are placed back in the bin on a layer of bedding and the cycle begins again.

This type of bin popular because it is small, inexpensive to purchase or easy to build, but they are more difficult to harvest because all the materials and worms must be emptied out when harvesting.

Continuous vertical bins use a series of trays stacked on top of one another. The tray on the bottom is filled first with a layer of bedding, worms and organic materials. When the worms have composted most of the material in the first tray, a layer of bedding is added on top. Then the next tray above is layered with organic material.

When the worms have finished composting the bottom tray, they head for more food and migrate to the tray above. When enough of the worms have migrated, the bottom tray can be removed with just a few straggling worms left behind. Place them in the tray above and you have finished vermicompost.

Because of the separate trays, these bins are easier to harvest and accessible to people with limited mobility. Properly placed they could be maintained by a handicapped or wheelchair bound gardener.


Do you have a Composting Tip to offer?

If you have a new technique of composting that we are not aware of or a tip to help other Pocono Gardeners, we would love to hear from you!

What Other Visitors Have Said

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Tumbler made out of wire mesh 
Greetings. I have been looking at compost bins and tumblers on the net. None of them seem to be big enough for my plans. My plans include offering a pickup …

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How to Compost, page 1

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