Composting Comparison: Which Method is Best?

compost_ideasSo you want to start composting! That’s great! Did you ever try researching all of the different composting methods? Did you immediately give up your dream right then and there? There’s so much out there! My goal is to learn as much as I can about the various techniques and compare the information here.

These are the variables I’ll be looking at:

– Space needed
– Cost
– Maintenance
– Decomposition rate
– Appearance: neat, contained, messy?

In each review, I will also explain the process, discuss pros and cons and provide you with additional resources. So stay tuned.

Comparing Compost Methods: 6 Different Techniques

Pit Composting – Digging a pit, adding material and then back filling the hole with dirt. Trench composting will also be discussed with this method.

Sheet Composting – Laying out a thin layer of composting materials on top of the soil and then tilling.

Pile Composting – Traditional, open compost heap.

Bin Composting – Composting in a stationery bin that sits on the ground with an open bottom. Bins can be open on one side or closed. A variation of this method is the Three Bin Composting method which I’ll touch on.

Tumbler Composting – Composting using a rotating container

Vermicomposting– Composting with the assistance of worms

Important for All Methods

Brown to Green Ratio

To get the black gold that gardeners rave about, it’s important to create an ideal balance of different materials. Otherwise you may end up with a stinky pile that attracts pests and doesn’t decompose. Been there. Done that. In composting, the materials are classified as brown or green. Different methods may require a different brown / green ratio.

BROWNS
Material high in CARBON content

  • Dried leaves
  • Dried grass clippings
  • Twigs
  • Branches
  • Pine needles
  • Hay
  • Wood or sawdust
  • Paper (egg boxes, shredded mail, shredded cardboard boxes, paper towels, paper napkins, newspaper)
  • Cut up cotton or wool
  • Hair
  • Brown bags
  • Peanut shells
GREENS
Materials high in NITROGEN content

  • Fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps
  • Fresh leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Plant trimmings

AVOID
Materials that shouldn’t be added

  • Any waste from meat eating animals
  • Fish & meat
  • Colored or coated, glossy paper
  • Treated wood or sawdust
  • Large branches
  • Diseased plants
  • Ash

*If you aren’t sure whether something is brown or green, wet it with water and wait a few days. If it smells, it’s definitely a green. No smell? It’s probably a brown.

Particle Size

Smaller particles decompose quicker. Keep that in mind when a decomposition range is given. Shredding material is a good practice, but don’t go crazy. When the particles get too small, your pile will just get compacted and sludgy due to the moisture and lack of airflow.

Environment

The location of your compost site could determine how quickly your method produces. Environment will determine air flow, moisture and temperature.

Where to Start: Smallest Space Needed to Compost

Composting is so important and anyone can do it! If you live in an apartment without a balcony or yard, you can STILL compost. In fact, I’m going to look at vermicomposting first. This is a great method if you don’t have alot of space. Let me know which method interests you most!

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