Domestic composting: How to choose the best in 2020
Domestic composting is a method to transform organic material, such as dried leaves and food scraps into a nutrient-rich fertilizer, perfect for home gardens. For more information, read on.
Important Things to Consider
- The decomposition of organic material also results in a solid component as well as liquid, known as leachate. Diluted in water, it can be sprayed on your plants, acting as a natural pesticide.
- In earthworm composters, it is advisable to have a temperature control between 55 ºF and 80 ºC.
- It is important to keep the composter tightly closed to avoid the formation of odors and avoid attracting flies.
Americans are increasingly aware of the importance of recycling and selective garbage collection. But, when it comes to organic material, like food scraps, few people recycle this material effectively.
With a domestic composting machine you can solve part of this problem and also gain access to an extremely rich fertilizer to be used in your planted pots and garden. Take a look at our shopping guide for more product information.
What is a domestic composter?
A domestic composting system is a recycling system for organic waste that works in multiple stages. In the two upper modules, earthworms and microorganisms are responsible for transforming the remains of food into fertilizer.
The lower module is reserved for the leachate, that is, the wet result of this process, which can be discarded or used as a pesticide. Today it is possible to find them in various sizes and models, so it is possible to own a composter even if you live in an apartment.
Pros and Cons
The domestic composter has its advantages. It helps to reduce the disposal of organic waste into landfills. The process results in an excellent quality fertilizer and maintenance is simple, not requiring special care.
There are some disadvantages to be aware of. Some people may have an aversion to having a composter at home. In many cases it is necessary to buy earthworms separately and not every type of organic waste can be disposed of in a composter.
- Helps decrease the disposal of organic waste into landfills
- The process results in an excellent quality fertilizer
- Maintenance is simple and does not require much care
- Some people may be averse to having a composter at home
- In many cases, earthworms must be purchased separately
- Not recommended for all types of organic waste
How to use the domestic composter
Using the domestic composter is very simple. First, it is important to cover the bottom of the top two containers with sawdust (or dry leaves), then add the earth and earthworms on the middle floor.
Once assembled, the food will always be disposed of in the upper tray, and you should mix wet and dry organic remains, always adding a little sawdust to better control the humidity, an essential factor so that the worms do not die.
Over time, they earthworms and naturally forming bacterial colonies will break down the waste. When the compost module is full, replace the upper tray with the middle one, and begin to fill again
When the middle module has adequately decomposed, you will have a nutrient rich fertilizer. Just collect it and transport it with the help of a bucket or wheelbarrow to use in your garden.
What types of waste can go in a composter?
You can put scraps of fruits, fruit peels, vegetables, and dry leaves and sawdust to help control moisture.
Experts do not recommend placing leftover meat, dairy products, or some citrus fruits such as lemon; the high concentration of benzoic acid in some citrus fruits will inhibit bacterial growth (you will see benzoic acid added to many packaged foods as a preservative).
What are the main types of home composters?
There are currently two main types of composters. Vermicomposting uses earthworms, in a more natural process that lasts about two months. These are the cheapest models on the market.
The other is an automatic composter, decomposition is done with the help of microorganisms and added heat, but without earthworms. There is no need to add sawdust or dry materials and the whole process is more rapid taking ony days. These compostors require electrical energy and are significantly more expensive.
The price can vary a lot according to the type and size of the domestic composter. The most traditional models, by vermicomposting, go between $70 to $150.
An automatic model, or a traditional model with large capacity, vary between $300 and $500.
Where to buy?
You can find home composters at stores specializing in gardening supplies. However, if you are unable to find the ideal model in your city, most large online retailers carry composters.
As you can see throughout our article, there are several benefits to owning a home composter, and if you take care of it properly, it is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Here are the main criteria to evaluate before purchse:
- Size and capacity
- Decomposition time
Currently, most composters are produced in plastic. This is because in the old wooden models, deterioration of the material over time and with exposure to bad weather required replacement every few years.
In this respect, plastic is much more durable and resistant. In addition, many companies use recycled material, which lends even more with the purpose of having a sustainable item in your home.
Size and capacity
Before buying a composter, it is important to check its size and capacity. Do you have room in your yard. Many composters are modular, so you can increase the capacity according to your needs. 35 lb models, for example, cover a family with two or three people.
The decomposition time may vary according to the amount of earthworms and the type of materials wasted. In traditional models, the entire process takes about two months.
In the case of automatic composters, which use only microorganisms, the process is incredibly faster, where it is possible to decompose their maximum capacity in just one day. However, since electrical power is consumed in the decomposition process, this method may not fit into everyone’s goal of reducing their carbon footprint.
Finally, it is also important to pay attention to the design of your composer. Opt for models that fit well in your garden or yard and choose pleasant colors. And, thinking more about practicality, some models have a type of ladder that allows earthworms to access waste more easily.
Best domestic composters: Our Favorites
Composters are a great way to consciously dispose of waste, and best of all, they provide a source of a natural, 100% organic fertilizer that you can use in your garden. Increasingly popular, there are several models available on the market. Check out our list with some great examples.
Best Overall: ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector
A fantastic entry level model is the ECO-2000 Plus Composter. This composter is your biggest of this small-sized composters. The easy but effective design of the composter has made it the best place on the list. This composter comes with carbon filters which decrease any foul odors that the parasitic waste can create. The lid delivers a tight seal. This makes it appropriate to use is an area close you pedestrian traffic that limits smell. The total design quality is fantastic. The bins’ filters are found to work well at removing foul smells.
Some reviewers disliked the fact that they weren’t able to open the bin with one hand due to the latch mechanism, which left dumping waste to a bigger bin harder and messier. On the other hand, the reviews for the product are overwhelmingly positive.
Runner-Up: Worm Factory 360 Composting Bin
The Worm Factory 360 composting bin is an excellent traditional composter build to grow with you and your family. The standard unit comes with 4 levels of composting bins and is upgradeable to 8 bins to have a significantly sized composter. The bins have a ladder system to allow worms to migrate to higher bins when they are finished with their current bin. There is a convenient spigot on the bottom to drain your leachate.
This unit has everything you need to get started minus the worms. It comes with a thermometer, hand rake, scraper, bedding material, instruction manual, and DVD. There is a quick tips guide on the lid of the composter itself.
Best Electric Composter: Food Cycler Indoor Kitchen Composter
This composter is a convenient way to add the benefits of composting to your life without the effort, time, and smell associated with traditional composting. The machine employs agitators and heaters to divide food scraps into an soil which may be inserted straight to garden dirt for additional nourishment. The Food Cycler has the capability to reduce down organic waste by up to 90 percent of its initial size, which can be very striking.
The machine produces no smell and only requires 3 hours to cycle. The soil produced by this machine is not, however, as nutrient beneficial as traditional composting as the earthworm and bacterial process of traditional composting emparts extra benefits. Nonetheless, for those that don’t have the space or time for traditional composting, this products will work well.