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Many Composting Methods

Composting has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I’ve learned new things over the years, tried different methods, and improved my overall understanding of the process. On our homestead now, we practice many composting methods.  Each has different benefits and reasons for us but all give us amazing compost and compost tea to keep our soil fertile.

Many Composting Methods - Homespun Seasonal Living

Method 1 : Vermicomposting

When we lived on a very tiny lot in town, we didn’t want to take up any valuable outdoor space with a traditional compost pile.  That small lot and the book, Worms Eat My Garbage, got us started with vermicomposting – composting with worms.  We started by building a small bin out of wood from plans we found online.  We kept this bin on a piece of plastic in our guest room.  This didn’t work at all for us. Worm bins need a way to drain off a lot of incredibly valuable worm water and the home made bin just didn’t give us that option. 

We eventually upgraded to a tower model, which is a stackable system, that allows the worms to move up through the bin eating the food scraps.  The bottom bin has a spout in order to pour off the worm water and easily collect in a bottle.

Many Composting Methods - Homespun Seasonal Living

We still keep the worm bin in our kitchen.  No it doesn’t smell.  It’s a convenient and fast method of producing compost and the worm water is an amazing thing to pour on potted plants and seedlings.  We learned early on, however; that fruit in the worm bin attracted fruit flies.  Even with homemade traps, we found this annoying. We don’t put fruit in the worm bin these days, fruit goes in one of our outdoor bins.

Method 2 : Traditional Outdoor Bin

We have this great plastic bin close to the side door nearest our kitchen.  This bin gets a lot of our fruit scraps, grass clippings, leaves, egg shells, and more.  This bin is more like a traditional compost pile that would get turned and emptied as possible.  The great thing about this bin is that there is a little door at the bottom that slides up and lets us dig out composted material from the bottom for spreading on the garden.  The other nice thing about this one is that it keeps it from getting covered in snow in winter and allows us to throw things in there all winter long.

Many Composting Methods - Homespun Seasonal Living

 Method 3 : A Tumbler

There are bunches of different variations on this Tumbler method.  Essentially, you put your food scraps, clippings, etc. in here to compost giving it a turn every day to aerate and break down more rapidly.  We’ve found that the metal helps keep the items inside hotter in the summer which also helps it break down faster. 

Many Composting Methods - Homespun Seasonal Living

In the end, it might seem a bit like overkill to use so many composting methods on one homestead, but I haven’t yet found myself worried about having too much compost to use in our food production.

What’s your favorite composting method?

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Thursday 14th of April 2016

Possums got into my compost bin and so I have scooped up the contents and used it in the garden. I have been doing some planting so I have just added the compost and partially composted stuff to the hole to get rid of it and hopefully get rid of the possums.

I decided that I did not want to spend any money on a tumbler and I think that I would kill a worm farm so I am trying something else. What I have started to do now is kind of in place composting. My beds are mulched with fallen leaves so I have plenty of brown. I just cup up my veggies, add my coffee grounds and put them around my plants. It breaks down pretty quickly. I can always just cover it with some of the mulch if it looks unsightly. It works for me.


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

I've used the tumbler method and the old fashioned piles, but over the years my preferred method is to compost "in place". This reduces the need to move the compost. I just bury it where I need the compost to be.

Michael Czepkiewicz

Saturday 28th of March 2015

I use the same tumble type of composer, and it works wonderful, I have four buckets underneath to catch the compost tea fluids. I use the tea in a half water half tea mixture every spring around my trees, and other bushes around the yard as fertilizer and it works wonders. It is a great way to collect a second product from the compost which I also use in the garden, and around the flowers, they love its natural fertilizer, and I get to use way less chemicals around the yard. I mix the tumbler with cut grass, saved kitchen scraps, and some sort of brown filler be it hay, straw, or browned grass when I collect more than I can use at the time. you need to keep the mix close to 60 - 40 to get the black gold when it is all done with the process, but it is worth it when your plant, and garden grow so nicely and tasty. Great site I will be a follower, and contributor. Thank You from Upstate South Carolina.

Dakota Nyght

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

Hmm, some great ideas here! We currently have two bins, but they're parked on the north side of our garage and so don't get any direct sun, and it seems like it takes things a while to break down. (There's also some kind of weird almost-licheny growth on the northside wall, too.) I've been on my hubby's case to build a tumbler (or two) so that we can remove those bins and improve our turnaround time.

I've always liked the idea of worms, but unless they lived in the basement (brrr!) there's really no space for them on the main floor. I didn't realize they produced worm water though - good to know!

Christine @ Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers

Monday 14th of April 2014

This is a great post! It might sound counter-intuitive, but I think the smaller the homestead, the more compost methods you need... with space being at a premium, it all needs to work as efficiently as possible! I am really loving the idea of worms in the kitchen! :)