What is a Compost Bin?

G. Wiesen

A compost bin is a large container used in composting, often located outside or near a garden. Compost bins can be built from just about any material, including plastic, metal, and wood and may take a number of different forms, depending on what type of composting a person is doing. They can be found in a number of different home improvement and gardening stores, or can be purchased over the Internet and delivered. A compost bin can also be constructed by a person looking to do some composting, who is willing to put in a bit of extra time and effort in constructing the bin.

A compost bin.
A compost bin.

Composting is the process of breaking down biodegradable materials into nutrient rich material referred to as compost. This is a natural process that often occurs when bacteria, fungi, and other small creatures such as insects break down food and plant matter into new material. By using a compost bin, this process can be controlled or sped up, and the resulting material is more readily available for use by a person looking to use the composted material in a garden, orchard, or other similar location.

Earthworms can be used for vermicomposting, one type of composting.
Earthworms can be used for vermicomposting, one type of composting.

A compost bin can be purchased pre-constructed and is typically made from plastic, metal, or wood. These types of compost bins usually allow for easy, large scale storage of composting materials, and are commonly found outdoors away from houses and other living areas. This is because the decaying materials in a compost bin can have a rather unpleasant smell and often attract flies and other insects. Small compost buckets with filters that reduce odors are often used inside a kitchen for short-term storage of composting materials, which are then taken outside and emptied into the larger bin.

Building a compost bin can be fairly easy and depends on what type of composting a person wishes to do. Stationary bins, or holding compost bins, are typically designed to be built from wood or chicken wire and may be large boxes or circular bins for storage. Turning bins are designed to either easily allow a person to open the bin and move the materials within around, or can be designed as a large rotating unit that can be spun to turn the material within.

These types of turning compost bins can greatly reduce the time needed to compost materials, though they often require more effort to turn the material frequently. Worm boxes can also be built to allow composting, though the process is somewhat different. A worm box often includes the addition of newspaper or cardboard and about two pounds (just over 900 g) of worms for each pound (about 450 g) of material that will be added each week. A compost bin can also be avoided completely as composting can be accomplished simply by piling composting material into a heap.

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