Getting started with composting can look intimidating, but it’s quite easy with or without a bin. Once you understand that compbosting is fairly versatile and can be modified to suit every lifestyle and living situation, it’s easy to get composting.
Your compost doesn’t need to touch the ground. You can successfully compost in enclosed bins. Compost that touches the ground has a slight advantage in that the influx of microorganisms might help it decompose faster. However, you can ensure faster compost with good moisture and aeration.
Keep reading to explore the different kinds of bases for compost bins and which is the best. I’ll also discuss the advantages of using raised composting units. You’ll also learn how to use enclosed bins for compost so you can work around putting your compost on the ground.
What Is the Best Base for a Compost Bin?
The best base for a compost bin by a small margin is direct contact with the ground. This allows microorganisms and earthworms in the ground to populate your pile. These organisms help the bacteria in your feedstock process and break down the organic matter, which helps your pile compost faster.
Composting directly on top of the ground is also convenient. You can place the composting bin at a convenient location to throw all your garden waste in. The compost also nourishes the soil, so your yard benefits from the compost even when broken down.
However, the advantage of placing your compost bin on the ground is negligible. If placing your compost bin on the ground is not feasible, you can easily compost in an enclosed bin with a base made of good quality plastic or metal. A covered bin insulates the pile, which helps it heat up, thereby speeding up the decomposition.
The insulation of a covered pile ensures that whether you’re composting with or without a bin, you’ll have compost ready in more or less the same amount of time.
An important note here is that you shouldn’t use a wooden base for your compost bin unless the wood is good quality and untreated. Since wood is an organic matter, it’ll decompose in the composter. That means you’ll have to replace it faster than a plastic or metal base.
Advantages of Raised Composting Units
While having your compost touch the ground does help your compost decompose faster, there are several advantages of raised composting units as well:
Burrowers and Other Pests Can’t Easily Access the Composting Units
If you struggle with burrowing pests like rats, raising your compost bin off the ground will protect the compost pile as they won’t be able to get into your bin.
Raising your compost bin also prevents ants and other small pests like white worms from getting into your compost, and the pile will be inaccessible to them.
While these creatures are not bad for your compost, too many can become an unsightly infestation. They can also affect the pH of the compost, making it drier and more acidic.
They Can Catch Any Leachate From the Pile
Leachate refers to the liquid produced when water drains through composting feedstock. When water is drained through fully completed compost, the liquid produced is compost tea, which is easier to use.
Leachate is automatically collected in composting units like bokashi and vermicomposting and is useful for numerous purposes. When created and collected properly, leachate can be used to improve the overall health of plants. It can also improve disease and pest resistance in plants and add nutrients to your garden.
The best way to use leachate is by using it as a soil drench. Since leachate is produced when water drains over partially decomposed material, it is unsafe to use directly on the foliage of your plants.
Raising your composting unit makes collecting leachate from your pile easier, especially if the bin has holes at the bottom for improved drainage. You can add a collection tray underneath your bin and use the collected leachate as the tray fills up.
They Provide Better Ventilation for Quicker Composting
Raising your compost bin improves ventilation as it increases the surface areas through which air can be introduced into your pile. All enclosed composting units need holes or slats for ventilation to ensure the aerobic bacteria carrying out the decomposition inside the pile have enough air to support them and help them multiply.
Aerating your compost pile is vital to ensuring a quicker, healthier compost, and raising your bin can help with that.
Additionally, if you’re using a tumbler-style raised bin, you can turn your compost easily by simply turning the bin on its stand. Turning is essential to aerating your compost and breaking up all the particles to help your compost become homogeneous and break down faster.
It’s Easy to Collect Completed Compost
Raised bins make it easier to collect completed compost near the bottom of the bin, which decomposes faster since the feedstock was added earlier.
Commercial multilevel composters can be opened from the side. With a raised bin, you can remove the completed compost easily by tipping it onto the ground instead of digging it out from the side.
Covered Bins Are Also Excellent for Composting
There are a number of ways that you can use your enclosed bins for composting in a way that ensures that your compost is ready as quickly as it would be if you placed it on the ground:
They Help Your Pile Compost Faster
Help your pile of feedstock compost faster by ensuring that you maintain the correct ratios of browns to greens in your compost.
Ideally, you should maintain a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens when layering your compost. This ration ensures your greens like yard clipping and kitchen scrap are completely covered by browns like dried leaves, sticks, and twigs, which take longer to decompose, and ensures that your compost doesn’t heat up too quickly.
You can support the bacteria in your compost pile by watering your compost as necessary and turning the pile to ensure aeration. Moisture and aeration help the bacteria thrive in a pile and multiply, which allows them to process the feedstock faster.
You Can Drill Into Them to Promote Proper Drainage
Drainage is important for an enclosed bin to prevent your compost pile from getting soggy. Your compost should have the dampness of a wrung-out sponge but should not be dripping water.
A soggy compost pile will slow down as the aerobic bacteria will drown, and anaerobic decomposition will set in, resulting in a pathogenic compost that takes too long to finish.
Drilling holes into the sides and bottom of your composting bin will help you prevent your compost from getting too wet as the excess water will drain out of these holes. These holes will also improve the overall aeration of your pile.
Use Bio-Activators to Accelerate the Composting Process
Bio-activators are great for accelerating the composting process. They also introduce microorganisms from the soil or from previous batches of compost into the fresh pile, which offers you the benefits of placing your compost on the ground as well.
Bio-activators include fermented materials, topsoil or potting soil that has been used often, or compost from previous batches. When these activators are added in measured quantities, they can introduce necessary microbes into your compost pile and help get the decomposition process started.
Actinomycetes or fungi that may appear as white powder on your compost are usually introduced through activators and ensure that your compost breaks down faster. They’re also useful in scenarios when the balance of your browns to greens may have been altered for whatever reason and help prevent anaerobic decomposition.
Soil that is completely sterile or treated with chemicals should not be added to your compost pile as it will leach chemicals into your compost and affect the health and quality of the finished product.
Can Compost Bins Sit on Concrete?
Compost bins can sit on concrete. As long as they have a secure base to prevent any leachate from staining the concrete and breaking it down over time. Any bins without bases should not sit on top of concrete as the compost will stain the concrete over time, and the leachate could destroy it.
If you’re using a compost bin without a base, you should place it in a location where the compost has direct contact with the ground. You can place bins with a secure base just about anywhere as the organic material will be contained within the bin.
Many people with limited yard space prefer composting bins—the bins help them keep all their organic material neatly contained. With compost bins, you don’t need to worry about organic material damaging your tiles, concrete, or other floorings.
Compost does benefit from touching the ground as it processes faster due to worms and other organisms from the soil.
However, there are no disadvantages to composting in enclosed bins with bases. The insulation of a covered compost bin makes up for the lack of worms as covered compost heats up faster and maintains its heat, allowing faster decomposition.
You can also help your pile compost faster by aerating and watering it regularly, ensuring good drainage, and adding an activator to your pile to accelerate the composting process.