What are Compost Containers?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Compost containers are containers which are designed to keep compost under control while it breaks down. There are a number of variations and designs available, ranging from compact compost containers which are meant to be used indoors to large compost boxes used to manage an outdoor compost heap. Many hardware and garden suppliers sell compost containers, and it is also possible to build a container from scratch to meet specific needs.

A compost bucket.
A compost bucket.

The primary purpose of a compost container is to keep compost confined to a specific area while it breaks down. Most containers are open along the sides to promote air circulation through the compost so that it will break down quickly and in a healthy way, with a screen which keeps insects at bay. Some compost containers play an active roll in the composting process, such as rotating compost drums which are spun to aerate the compost. Compost can also be aerated with a compost aerator, a shovel, or a rake.

Many compost containers are designed to make it easy to access finished compost. In some cases, netting keeps raw compost inside the container, while allowing finished compost to trickle out for collection. Compost containers may also be elevated above the ground, with a screened bottom which allows finished compost to fall through. In the case of spinning drums, as the drum is spun to aerate the compost, finished compost can trickle out of slats or netting onto the ground for collection.

Companies which manufacture compost containers often have a range of sizes to choose from, with different footprints for different needs. Some of the most innovative compost containers have a stacked design which promotes air circulation through the compost while allowing finished materials to fall through to the bottom. Others are tall and narrow so that they can fit in cramped spaces, while containers for composting in a laundry room or on a back porch may have charcoal filters to keep down odor.

In addition to a compost container for composting, it is also a good idea to have a compost pail or compost bin in the kitchen for collecting organic material. Once the pail fills, it can be emptied into the compost container. Compost pails make it easier to remember to compost by providing a space to temporarily store organic materials so that members of the house do not need to constantly run back and forth from the compost heap to the house.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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