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Composting with composters. The definitive guide.

  •   October 6th, 2014
  •   Category: News, Composting
  •   Posted by: Ecodyger

A composter is a bin with a lid on top useful for organic waste loading, and equipped with a side door on the bottom for compost picking. The container’s sides have holes, important to grant an adequate air circulation inside. The composters shape in the market is cylindrical, hexagonal or truncated with a capacity from 200 to 1.000 liters. The cost goes from 70 to 150 Euros.

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With respect to the pile technique, the use of composter has positive and negative aspects.

Positive aspects

  • It is possible to compost also small quantities of material
  • The process is less afflicted by temperature decrease
  • Prevents leakage of bad odors
  • Prevents the presence of undesired animals, like rodents
  • It can be put also on a balcony
  • The compost forms in a shorter time

Negative aspects

  • It cannot be use for large quantities of material
  • It is not possible to follow the process
  • Turning is a bit of a problem
  • Water stagnation may happen more often causing a bad odor which could be felt by the neighborhood

As it is the case for pile composting, it would be better to place the composter in a partially shadowed area during summer time or sunny area in winter.

Also, for those composters who are not equipped with a net on the bottom base of the bin, it is advisable to add one to avoid small animals like rodents.

Material loading

First, set up a draining layer on the composter’s bottom, using shredded wood. Organic leftovers must be put in the container following the same mixing instructions of pile composting  (link articolo). Furthermore, due to the fact that turning the material inside the composter would be hard, it would be useful to add more waste rich in carbon in order to avoid humidity excess and improve the material’s porosity.

In case of lack of material rich in carbon like pruning residue , branches, it is advisable to use dry discards like sawdust, or dry leaves which help increase porosity.

Using the composter, the control of the three  main parameters are more complex. In fact, it is possible to observe and check just what happens on top of the heap.

Temperature

For what concerns temperature, there should not be an excessive cooling of the material. On the other hand, there could be overheating (temperature higher than 70°C). For this reason, placing the composter in a shadowy area during summer is the best choice.

May a peak of temperature happen, it will be necessary to open a bit the lid of the container to and eventually turn the material.

These two procedures are applicable also when the material is in putrefaction due to the lack of oxygen.

The complete turning of the material is advisable 1 or 2 times during the composting cycle. To perform this action:

  1. Take out the freshest material from the container
  2. Empty the container
  3. Turn the material
  4. Reload the material with the fresh material on top of the heap

Humidity

Humidity control is quite complex.

The test of humidity made by holding the material in the fist can still be done, as seen for pile composting, but obviously it is possible to test only the material on top of the composter.

A good wet and dry waste mix should ensure a good humidity level. If this does not work, then it would be necessary to provide more turnings for each cycle (5 or 6).

Using a composter it is possible to have two composting cycles during a year. One from September to March (winter cycle – 7 months) and one April to August (summer cycle – 5 months). At the end of these periods, it will be possible to empty the container, putting aside the freshest material (the one on top) and screen the rest of the compost.

Screening residue may be used to make the draining layer on the bottom of the container for the next composting cycle, while the fresh material will be available for the new loading.

The obtained compost can be used for gardening, also before sowing, while for its use in vase planting it will be necessary to make the compost maturate for a couple of months.

Drawbacks and solutions

  • Bad odors: the cause of bad odors, as happens with piel composting, is due to excessive ozone and/or lack of oxygen. For both causes, the best solution would be add a certain quantity of brown leftovers (dryer and rich of carbon) and turn the material.
  • Mosquitoes in the composter: Mosquitoes may be caused by a large amount of fresh material present in the container. Just add composting material to the fresh one to avoid them.
  • Water stagnation at the bottom: improve the drain layer on the composter’s bottom, most of all if places on a balcony, by putting on the base bundle wood which permits air flow conservation.
  • Slow composting process: it is possible that too much dry waste has bee loaded or too much wet material. Add waste of the type which is lacking to compensate.

Advantages

It is useful for small gardens, even in presence of pets, because is hidden and covers the material. It permits to maintain good hygiene of the area.

Other composting techniques

The Hole

The hole is a old composting system that, with diligent care, is still valid and gives good results. It is necessary to dig a hole putting on the bottom gravel and then wood to favor air flow and water draining. Leave the sides free as much as possible.

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It has the advantage to remain hidden, but, if not well managed, it may cause water stagnation and bad odors due to the lack of oxygen as only its peak will be in contact with air.

Homemade composter

This composter is made so that turning the material will be easy and air will pass smoothly.

It can be a “net composter” using 2-3 meters of linear metallic net with narrow mesh, 1 meter height, to be built as a cycle. In this case, if there’s a lot of material to compost, instead of making a bigger composter, just make another one.

To protect it from atmospheric agents, it can be wrapped into a jute veil or similar and closed with a lid on top if necessary (i.e. winter) and wetted from time to time during summer to avoid dehydration. At the center of the composter there must be located a pole, better if holed (i.e. in plastic) so that air and water run at the center of the heap.

compost_silo-rete_01

The homemade composter can also be made in wood box, by assembling pallet wood or similar material, with narrow slots or covered with a metallic net. it can be wrapped into a jute veil or similar and closed with a lid on top if necessary (i.e. winter). To favor turning of the waste, the box should have a side door.

Compost And Loam For The Garden

Ecodyger VS Composter

Today it is possible to compost also in absence of green areas, also eliminating all the disadvantages of composters and homemade composters.

Ecodyger is a new technology that allows you to manage your wet waste directly within the walls of your home or business. In a few hours you will get a good compost, while eliminating odors , the presence of insects and unwanted animals such as rats and rodents.

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(Cover pic Ofer, Flickr)