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Composting Q&A


Three stages of composting 

Composters are mainly for individuals and/or households that have a garden.  Composting not only helps gardens but greatly improves the environment, as well.

What goes into a composter?
Excluding cooked goods, all biodegradable products can be put into a compost bin.  Examples: uncooked vegetables, fruits, eggshells, animal waste products and plant matter.

How does it work?
While all the biodegradable items are sitting in the composter, an activator is mixed into the container.  From there, microorganisms feed off the waste products and grow.  The mixture in the compost bin heats up and is disinfected.  The process can last from anywhere between two weeks or two years, more or less.  Afterwards, you receive a dark soil that may be used for ground cover, soil amendment and other various nature related goals.

What kind of maintenance is required?
Composters need to be placed in a warm area or a spot where sun is on the bin for the majority of the day.  Water needs to be added enough to make the mixture the consistency of a moist sponge.  Compost activators are essential for making sure the waste products are disinfected and safely usable.  Oxygen can be provided to the composter by rotating the drum every so often. 

Are there more than one kind of composter?
Yes.  There are at least three different kinds of compost bins.  
     - Basic containers come in boxy or round shapes.  They usually do not have a bottom.  To rotate the pile, the user must manually shovel the mixture around.
     - Multiple bin systems can either be purchased or made at home.  It is much like basic containers except that there are more bins.  After the pile is heated in one bin, it is transferred to another container via shovel.  This process is repeated three to five times and helps to speed up the composting process.
     - Rotary systems are cylindrical containers that hold the mixture.  This set-up has a support structure and can spin on rollers.  It is the most expensive system but requires less labor from the user.

What is an activator?
An activator is a compound that is high in nitrogen.  Activators help increase the activity of the microorganisms.

What are the pros of compost bins?
 - Fewer products will be thrown away.
 - For gardeners, the soil will be rich in nutrients.
 - The resulting soil helps the ground by providing moisture as well as nutritious components.
 - If people continue to accumulate compost bins, landfills will have less waste.

What are the cons of compost bins?
 - Compost bins do take up a decent amount of space.
 - They can be smelly.
 - Time must be dedicated to make sure the process is going along smoothly.

Where can I purchase a compost bin?
Compost bins can be purchased at hardware store as well as online.  Envirocycle, Home Depot and Lowes are well known compost bin retailers.


  • Julie Durr 5 years ago

    Thanks-this is information I have been looking for.

    Julie (Southern Illinois Country Living Examiner)

  • Annette Palmer - Cincinnati Holiday Examiner 5 years ago

    I'm getting read to do my gardening and I have been looking for ideas for composters. Thanks for sharing.

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