If you’re new to composting it can be difficult to know which bin (or system, if you like to think in systems rather than bins) is best for your home and lifestyle. Our handy guide can help.
Food waste composter/digester
The Green Johanna and Green Cone are specialist units designed to accept foods that traditional garden composters don’t, such as cooked food, meat, fish, dairy and bread, so all your food waste can go in together. They use natural processes to break food down without producing methane.
Green Johanna (also called a hot composter)
- Produces compost.
- Also accepts garden waste.
- Prefers a sheltered spot.
- Comes with aerator stick provided.
- Modular design means large amounts of compost can be removed.
Green Cone Food Waste Digester
- Must be dug into a hole in free-draining soil.
- Doesn’t accept garden waste.
- Doesn’t produce compost – instead it produces nutritious water which drains from its underground basket and feeds surrounding soil.
- No turning or stirring required.
- Uses solar energy so requires a sunny spot.
Compost Tumbler (by Maze) 180 litre/245 litre
- Takes kitchen waste and garden waste. Accepts cooked waste if chopped up into small pieces and mixed in well with other waste.
- Cylindrical rotation design makes turning compost easy. Instead of manually stirring you turn the ratchet handle. The geared ratchet automatically locks rotation in any position.
- Two compartments mean non-stop composting – when the first compartment is full you start on the second.
- Can be hardstanding.
- A cart is available so that finished compost can be removed and wheeled where you want it in the garden.
Traditional Garden Compost Bins
- Only take raw fruit and veg scraps (no cooked food), garden waste and household paper, cardboard etc.
- Require a 50/50 mix of nitrogen-rich waste (fruit and veg waste, grass clippings) to carbon-rich waste (straw, paper, cardboard, wood chippings).
- Available in plastic or wood. Plastic bins tend to be more robust but wood may be preferred for a natural look.
- Contents require turning to aerate the mix.
Lack of space?
Wormeries are ideal for small-scale composting and for introducing children to the fascinating world of worms, which is an education in itself.
- Require a sheltered spot.
- Worms will digest many kinds of foods cut up into small pieces and other kitchen waste such as shredded paper, egg cartons, scrunched up newspaper.
- A little management is needed to maintain the ideal environment for your worms, so be sure to read the instruction booklet.
- Produce excellent worm-made compost – vermicompost – for your garden.
- Learning fascinating facts about these tiny eco-heroes is sure to turn children into composters of the future. To take their interest further, there are many excellent books on the subject, such as Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof and Composting With Worms by George Pilkington.
- Kitchen compost bins that sit on a worktop or under a sink and accept all chopped-up food waste.
- Food waste is fermented, resulting in a pre-compost mixture which can be added to a compost bin or wormery, buried in soil in the garden or in large planters.
- Requires the addition of friendly bacteria in a bran or spray to accelerate fermentation.
- When full of food waste, the container is left sealed for two to three weeks for fermentation to take place anaerobically (without air).
- Nutritious liquid is drained from a tap at the bottom of the bin and can be used diluted as plant fertiliser or concentrated as organic drain cleaner.
- Bokashi comes from the Japanese term for ‘fermented organic matter’.
- Bokashi enthusiasts often keep several bins on the go to ferment all their food waste.