The Ultimate Guide to Best Composters for House and Balcony Gardens

As we have learned before, composting process lasts at least a few weeks, and can usually take up to a couple of months. In order to know what sort of compost bins we will need, we must calculate the quantity of kitchen scraps we produce on a daily basis while preparing meals.

composters plantenon

Let’s do some simple compost production calculation:

If you are cooking a meal for the family of four, you will produce about a quarter of a gallon per meal in average. That means that you will need a bin of the approximate capacity. It has to be big enough for your scraps and at the same time small enough to keep it at hand on your kitchen counter. Small kitchen counter bin is what we call the basic compost bin and it is the first stage of home composting.

Since you surely do not want to go out and empty the small bin after each meal, the next thing you need is a bigger under counter bin.

How big? If you cook every day, you will have about a gallon of kitchen scraps every four days and you will need a compost bin of approximately one or one and a half gallon capacity. Under counter bin is the second phase of home composting.

The third stage is an outside composter. Since it takes at least a few weeks for compost to mature – usually four or five – and if you produce one gallon of kitchen scraps every four days, it is easy to calculate that it makes about 8 to 9 gallons of so called green stuff. As we already know, for starting compost you need at least the same amount or more of the so called brown staff, which makes 16 to 19 gallons of material. Beside solid parts, compost needs water and air, and space for tumbling or turning, which means additional space in the compost bin. All in all, an outside composter  for small home gardens should have the capacity between 30 and 35 gallons.

What if the compost is still not mature and your outside composter is already full?

You wouldn’t want to buy another one, because having two composters could be expensive and would take up too much space in most small gardens. A more practical solution is either a garden bed you select for keeping the compost to mature on, or, if you have a balcony garden, a large pot with a lid. The process is similar either way: spread the content of the composter on a thick layer of soil, and then cover it with soil you dug out. Turn it every few weeks, as you do with compost. If you do it in a pot, use the lid if the weather is too hot, too dry, or too wet. That way you can empty your composter several weeks earlier and start new compost.

Short summary of compost bins:

It is our experience that the best way of composting at home should be done in four stages:

  1. You need a bin at hand when you prepare s meal: small kitchen counter bin
  2. A larger bin into which you empty the contents from the small counter bin and in which you can keep kitchen scraps for more than one day: under counter (compost) bin
  3. A much larger outside bin where you keep not only kitchen scraps (green matter) but also other components required to make compost (brown stuff): garden composter
  4. Garden pot or garden bed (optional)

We have assembled five options by combining the best kitchen counter bins, under counter bins and garden composters to fit the needs of any home gardener. The five combinations below will give you a general idea of how to combine different bins to find what would suit you best.

The First Combination is the simplest one, because it doesn’t require compost bins with filters or any hard work with a shovel

  1. Stainless Steel Countertop Trash Can
  2. Kitchen Food Waste Compost Container
  3. Envirocycle Composting Tumbler Bin and Compost Tea Maker

1.The Stainless Steel Countertop Trash Can is not really a compost bin but rather an ordinary small kitchen bin, which looks nice, it’s easy to open with one hand (comes in handy while cooking) because of its swing lid, it’s made of stainless steel, a material which doesn’t absorb any smells and it’s easy to clean. The price is really affordable. The table bin is big enough to fit the cooking scraps left after preparing a single meal, and small enough so that it doesn’t take up too much space on your kitchen counter. Reviews and Prices

 

2. Now that you’ve filled up the small bin you will need a larger one which can hold the cooking scraps for several days, which means that it has to have a larger volume and a firmer lid. The YukChuk Under-Counter Kitchen Food Waste Compost Container is an excellent choice. Its capacity is large enough for several days’ amount of kitchen waste, and its lid is firm enough to make sure it doesn’t let out any odors. It’s simple to use because it doesn’t have any filters, and the material it’s made of is known for its non leaching characteristics (the same as milk containers, for instance). Although there is a part of the bin that looks thin and fragile – the hinge, the maker is so confident that it will not break, that you are given a life time guarantee on the bin. Some users say that it would be a bit easier to use if it were a little wider. Reviews and Prices


3. Now that you have saved some money choosing items 1 and 2, you can invest more into a composter which many people consider the best home garden composter out there: The Envirocycle Composting Tumbler Bin and Compost Tea Maker. It is not cheap, but it pays off in many ways. Some people consider it to be the most valuable tool in their garden. It comes with a 5 years guarantee, but many customers have had pleasant experiences even after the end of that period, because the maker would give them a brand new product without the shipping costs and with an apology; even if the problem wasn’t in the bin but in extreme colds or some other external factor. This amazing tumbler bin keeps getting perfected, and some of its weaker points get improved, and the buyers that have a complaint about some of the weaknesses get a new composter free of charge. All in all, an extremely transparent and reliable company and an extremely useful compost bin. Its capacity is optimal, it looks good in your garden, and it’s easy to tumble. The drum rotates on the top of the composter base to create solid compost, and if you choose to, the base enables you to collect the excess liquid from the drum as compost tea, a precious liquid fertilizer that can boost the growth of any plant and make it healthier rapidly. The composter is easy to empty without having to reach into the drum with your hands or a tool; you just have to roll the drum off the base, remove the door, and dump the compost into the soil. Reviews and Prices

The Second Combination is for those with more space and a taste for rustic design

  1. Top Rated Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin 1.3 Gallon-Includes Charcoal Filter
  2. Chef’s Star 5 Gallon Air Tight Indoor Bokashi Bucket Kitchen Compost Kit
  3. Spin Bin Composter 60 Gallon Compost Tumbler

1.The Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin is popular because many people find its vintage design decorative for all types of kitchen spaces but it’s especially suitable for rustic, country houses. It is made of durable material, it’s easy to clean, has adequate capacity and a moderate price. Its replaceable charcoal filters suppress odors. With careful handling they can last for a long time, and you can wash and maintain them easily with just soap and water. Some users complain about the fruit flies, but if you remove the lid only when you need to put something into the bin, the problem will probably be solved. It has a carrying handle which is more than useful when you are emptying the bin. Reviews and Prices

2. For the second stage we suggest Chef’s Star 5 Gallon Air Tight Indoor Bokashi Bucket Kitchen Compost Kit as a very useful part of the composting system. The advantages of using one are numerous. You can use it inside, in the kitchen, or keep it outside, it doesn’t require setting up or any technical knowledge, its volume is enough to hold the waste that an average family produces in a week. It has an air tight lid which enables faster fermentation and decomposing. If you keep it outside, it is a perfect pre-compost bucket if there are rodents in your area. The spigot allows easy removal of compost tea. Some users have had complaints about the seal around the spigot, which is the only downside. The spigot itself seems fine but the washers provided don’t do their job. Unless you’re handy and fix this before you fill the bucket for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend this compost kit to you. Reviews and Prices

3. The Spin Bin Composter is an excellent choice for a bit larger outside gardens. Its volume is much higher than the one of most composters recommended for households. Although large, it is not heavy to spin, but some female users suggest that it would be easier to tumble if it had some sort of a handle. It is easy to install, but it is not easy to move around, it is best to chose one place for it and keep it there.The barrel is rather close to the ground and for emptying it there is enough space only for a plastic sheet and then to shovel the content into a tub or bucket.The main complaints are that the plastic around the rim is not very strong and that it can split if you push it with a pitch fork or a shovel too hard, and that the screws that attach the lid to the barrel are not of high quality when compared to the entire product. I would suggest getting some quality screws and replacing them because everything else about this composter is perfect. Reviews and Prices

The third combination is perfect for modern balcony or house gardeners. It’s practical and clean, with high quality design

  1. OXO Good Grips Compost Bin
  2. Kitchen Compost Caddy under sink mounted compost system
  3. Yimby Tumbler Composter

1.OXO Good Grips Compost Bin has a nice modern design, comes in two colors (gray and white), and has convenient size for counter-top everyday use. The inside surface is seamless, and the walls join the floor in a curve, which prevents foods from building up and makes it simple to empty. The lid is easy to open even with one hand and the rotating handle makes the bin easy to carry. It has no filters and no venting system, but the customers report that it seals well enough to keep the odors and fruit flies away. Reviews and Prices

2. Kitchen Compost Caddy under sink mounted compost system is the choice of many home gardeners. It is simple to install and easy to carry out and empty. It’s easy to open and to keep open thanks to the magnet in the lid. The best thing is that it’s amazingly easy to clean. Vented lid minimizes condensation/water accumulation in the pail and the carbon filters cut down on odor in the bin. Double seal around pail lid prevents fruit flies from gathering near the bin. The locking feature also enables your hands to remain free for plate scraping or during food preparation. A word of advice: If you have a middle “bar” in your cabinet, you have to measure carefully how much space you’ll need for the oblong-shaped lid that swings closed. Reviews and Prices3. The Yimby Tumbler Composter might be the most correctly priced tumbling composter on the market. It is easy to install, all you need is a screwdriver and a wrench or pliers. The poles for the base are sturdy and the plastic is thick enough to stand up to direct sunlight. It would be great if it had a catch pan for compost drippings, but that is a common problem that applies to all other composters on the market as well. Reviews and Prices

The fourth option is a composting system with a shredder

  1. Food Cycler Indoor Kitchen Compost Container 
  2. Sure-Close Kitchen Composter
  3. 7-Cubic-Foot Compost Wizard 

1.Food Cycler Indoor Kitchen Compost Container has a shredder that reduces kitchen scraps up to 90 %. It is not cheap, but having it enables you to get cheaper and simpler bins for the rest of the composting process. It is odorless and needs no venting. When full, it takes it about 3 hours to shred the content, and it is not unimportant that it makes no loud noises. The time, of course, depends on the sort of waste you put into it. In time, you will learn how to combine various sorts to make the shredder do the job in less and less time. What you get when the process is finished is still not compost! It is only a reduced mass of scraps which will be easier to break down in a composter. If you decide to buy a kitchen shredder, check carefully: some of them are a lot cheaper but also a lot weaker, and can shred only very soft scraps. Reviews and Prices

2. Sure-Close Kitchen Composter can fit under sink, under cupboard, on the countertop or simply in the corner. Its neutral colors help it blend perfectly in any kitchen. It hasn’t got a very large capacity, but if you shred your scraps before putting them into this bin, it will be more than enough. Now’s the time to remind you once again: compost bin is not a composter, it is basically a bin where you put your kitchen scraps for a shorter period of time. In this one you could keep them for several days with no unwanted consequences because of its microperforated lid which allows air to circulate but keeps insects away. Many customers agree that the lid works perfectly: flipping fully open, staying open, and clicking securely closed. It is easy to clean and wipe, and no liner is necessary, but possible if you want. Word of caution: it has been reported by some customers that some products were produced with non-ventilated tops, but the company sent ventilated lids with no charge. Reviews and Prices

3. The 7-Cubic-Foot Compost Wizard  is said to make good compost „shockingly“ fast. Even while full, it is easy to roll, even with one hand. The lid is very neatly designed, always opening as it should, and screwing back on easily. Its black color certainly gets the internal temperatures in a favorable zone, and the bin integrity keeps the contents within the bin. During the process of decomposing, any smell is kept in the composter. Depending on the environment, you may need to add water throughout the cycle. Weak point on some items: they can split on the part where the wheel rolls.

 

The last combination is meant for small urban gardeners with the love for green

  1. Chef’n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin
  2. Exaco Eco Kitchen Compost Collector With Carbon Filter
  3. Mantis Easy Spin ComposTumbler CT09001

1.It is unanimously agreed that the Chef’n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin looks elegant and more like a decoration in a modern kitchen than a bin for kitchen scraps. It has a pretty porcelain exterior and a plastic insert that can be easily washed. It comes with two washable filters, but some customers prefer to use the bin without them, since it produces no odors and attracts no fruit flies even if you keep the content in for several days: you just need to give it a quick wash after emptying it. Warning:  some customers report that the lid of the new model does not fit correctly like the old one, especially if you use a liner. Reviews and Prices

2. Exaco Eco Kitchen Compost Collector With Carbon Filter is big enough for several days’ kitchen waste, it includes replaceable carbon filters, has a convenient handle which makes it easy to carry and empty, fits well under sink or in any corner. It has its flaws though; for instance, it is preferable to use them with the liners for easier cleaning, but there is nowhere to pull the liner over in the back so you have to use binder clips or something like that if you don’t want the compost to sit and the bin to absorb the scents. If you want to be sure that no fruit flies will gather in it, you should empty it regularly, maybe even before it is completely full. But, in all, we consider it to be good value for money. Reviews and Prices

3. Mantis Easy Spin Compost Tumbler CT09001 is sized for small gardens. It has all the main qualities of a garden composter: it is of good quality, sturdy and durable, it’s off the ground, which enables it to tumble and it locks tight. It’s easy to load and with all of the open space inside of the composter, the oxygen really helps to turn the compost quickly. But, it might be heavy to use when even half full, and some complain that the instructions are „horrendous“. The outside gets filthy, as there is a “drain” mechanism that requires actual scrubbing if you want it to be perfectly clean: simple rinsing with a hose is not enough. Besides all those faults, some gardeners have two of them, rather than a different kind. Reviews and Prices

The Choice is Yours

In the end, it is all up to you and to your common sense, because you yourself best know what you need. It was not our intention to urge you to use any of these combinations specifically, or to follow the instructions blindly, but to show you the principle of how a good house gardening composting system should function. The products listed are, however, some of the best on the market. We have assembled a list of composters and containers which could certainly (when combined properly) satisfy everyone’s needs.

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