The Environmental Protection Agency says that the average American discards 1.3 pounds of food scraps every day. This means a tremendous amount of compostable material ends up in landfills instead of in the soil where it could improve soil structure, increase nutrient retention, enhance drainage, prevent erosion and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
The composting process is simple and basically involves helping nature do its thing. However, selecting a compost bin can be tricky for homeowners, as composters range from simple, inexpensive bins to sophisticated units that do most the work for you. Mantis simplifies the selection process with five composter models, all constructed of durable materials and sturdy steel frames.
Before you shop, take time to think about exactly what you want a compost bin to do.
- How much compost do you need? Is your garden large or small? Is your soil rich and friable, or is it hard-packed clay?
- How much raw material do you generate? Consider not only kitchen scraps, but also grass, leaves, straw, and other plant material.
- How much space do you have for a compost bin? Your bin should go in a convenient location, especially if you need to tend to it every day.
- How much time do you want to invest? Some bins require minimal physical labor, while others need attention every day.
- Ensure the composter allows for ample air flow. Mantis compostumblers, for example, are designed with air vents so air flow is unimpeded during composting, as well as drainage that allows release of excess moisture.
Now that you have a general idea of your composting needs, you’re prepared to consider the benefits and drawbacks of various compost bins.
Open compost bins come in a variety of sizes, materials and prices, although most tend to be relatively inexpensive. Bins may be made of wire, heavy plastic, durable metal or wood. Some have two or three compartments to generate compost at different stages.
Open bins are simple, versatile and neater than a pile on the ground. However, open bins don’t keep critters out, and composting may be a slow process if the material isn’t turned regularly. The material may become too wet or too dry, depending on weather conditions.
Stationary plastic bins, also known as continuous composters, are favored by many gardeners for their affordability and ease of use. This type of bin is often available at reduced cost from municipal solid waste departments.
Raw material is added at the top of the bin and the finished material is removed from the bottom. The bins are closed, so small critters can’t get into the material and the compost is protected from the elements. Although it usually isn’t required, stirring occasionally speeds the composting process.
Tumblers are generally the most expensive type of compost bin, although small, inexpensive tumblers are available. Tumbler composters consist of barrel-like canisters, usually made from heavy-duty plastic. Tumblers are turned with a hand-crank, meaning less effort is involved.
Mantis offers a variety of tumblers, including an Easy Spin Compostumbler, a sturdy, affordable, household-size composter that generates finished compost in just four to six weeks.