Composters can be open or closed (with a lid). Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages, which we describe in more detail below. There are different materials to choose from. Composters made of galvanised steel are particularly stable and durable.
The decisive factors are capacity and size. The smaller the composter, the faster it fills up.
Purchase recommendation: How do you find the right composter?
Why should you buy a composter?
Not only hobby gardeners often have a composter in their garden. It is also ideal for processing kitchen waste in an environmentally friendly way. What’s more, you get a double benefit. Composting gives you your own humus, nutrient-rich soil for your flower beds and much more.
To make your composter work especially well and quickly, there are a few things to consider when buying one. There are different types of kitchen and garden bins, each with different features.
What belongs in a composter?
A composter is designed for kitchen and garden waste. You can compost fruit and vegetable waste, eggshells and coffee grounds in it, among other things. There is also room for garden waste such as grass clippings and weeds. However, spilled citrus peelings are not allowed in composters.
A composter is a container in which you can compost kitchen and garden waste. In this process, also called decomposition, microorganisms such as moulds and bacteria break down the organic material. The decomposition produces nitrites, ammonium salts and phosphates, as well as various potassium and magnesium compounds.
This is nutrient-rich humus, which is an excellent fertiliser. With a garden composter, you can make your own fertiliser for your garden plants instead of buying it from a DIY store or expensive garden centre.
Where is the best place for composters?
There are several things to consider when choosing a suitable location. Ideally, the composter should be placed in a semi-shaded area. It is also convenient if it is not too far from the house. However, it should not be placed directly on the terrace. If necessary, the composter should be moved if its current location is not ideal.
Which type of composter is best: open or closed?
A composter is not just a container for organic waste. There are different types, which we describe below – first in general terms in the table below and then in more detail about their features, advantages and disadvantages.
Open composting: Free access for people and animals
Open composters do not have a lid. This has many advantages, but also some disadvantages. Because the lid of the composter is not closed, you can quickly and easily throw in new waste. However, various animals such as important insects and worms, but unfortunately also mice and rats can have access to the composter’s contents.
While the former are welcome to help with the composting process, rodents are less welcome. Another disadvantage is that the composting process takes longer. Because of the open nature, the temperature is lower and the process takes longer.
Summary of the advantages and disadvantages of open composters:.
Difference between single-chamber and multi-chamber open composites
Another distinction is between open single-chamber and open multi-chamber composters. For single-compartment composters, you should mix the garden waste regularly to improve the composting process. It is advisable to sieve the soil for later use. In general, this is a good and proven system, but it is also time-consuming.
An open multi-chamber composter uses two or more chambers. Coarse material is placed in the lower chamber and kitchen waste in the upper chamber. The design ensures good aeration, which speeds up the composting process. However, it is advisable to balance the contents every few months at best. The correct placement of the composter is also important.
Closed composters: fresh soil made faster
Closed composters are equipped with a lid. This not only makes life difficult for unwanted animal guests, but also for humans. On the other hand, the more protected design of the lid also allows for a higher internal temperature. This speeds up the decomposition process by the microorganisms, so you get fresh, composted soil faster.
Summary of the advantages and disadvantages of closed composters:
There are two special versions of the closed composter. The quick composters provide a faster composting process. These models have holes in the bottom that allow earthworms and other important insects access. However, good initial mixing is important.
A thermal composter composts even faster. It has an additional insulating and heating layer that creates an even higher internal temperature. This speeds up the decomposition process. This type of composter is ideal for small amounts of waste.
If you want to speed up the composting process even more. There are special composting accelerators for composters. Simply add the contents of the bin to the composter and follow the dosage instructions – done.
How you can compare composters
In addition to the different types we have already described, there are other features and criteria you should consider when making your purchase decision. In the following sections, you will find out what types they are.
There are composters made of different materials on the market. Wooden composters are, of course, the most natural. Which wood is best for composters? Spruce or pine wood is commonly used to make wooden compost bins. Because it is impregnated, it is relatively well protected from the weather. However, wooden composters do not last forever and are therefore less durable than those made from other materials.You can compost all food and garden waste. However, you should not use cooked food, as this attracts rodents more quickly.
Plastic composters are also quite common. The advantage of this material is that it does not change over time and is therefore very durable. But not everyone likes the look of a plastic composter. There is also a risk that the material will deform over time.
Metal composters are another alternative. They are usually not as abrasion resistant. However, be careful when choosing the right design. Composters made of coated metal can rust over time as the protective powder coating can peel off. Galvanised metal composters are more durable. In our experience, galvanised composters are preferable to powder-coated metal composters.
Size and shape of composters
Other important factors when buying a composter are its capacity, size and shape. Let’s start with the latter. Square or round composters are common. But there are also hexagonal and polygonal ones, as you can see in our comparison table above.
The size of the composter will of course depend on the space available where you want to place it. Measure it and then compare it to the size of the models you are considering.
Are you looking for an extremely small composter for your balcony? That’s possible too, because there are special composters for balconies. Even if you don’t have your own garden, you can still get fresh soil with a composter.
The volume, which is given in litres, is even more important. It determines how much space is available for the waste and how quickly the composter fills up. Most composters have a capacity of about 600 litres. Larger models can hold up to 800 litres.
We recommend composters with a capacity of at least 600 litres. Otherwise, there is usually not enough space and the waste will not compost fast enough, so the composter will eventually overflow. Of course, the right size also depends on the amount of waste to be composted.
There are not many accessories for the composter. A composter with a sieve is practical. This separates the finer and coarser components of the compost. This produces a very fine humus. The larger particles can be filtered out and returned to the rotting process.
If you don’t want to buy a new composter, you can also build one yourself. You can find instructions for building a pallet composter on the Internet.
Questions and answers: What you need to know about composters
Finally, we want to answer some frequently asked questions about buying and using a composter, which are often the subject of composter tests.
Which manufacturers offer composters?
The best known composters are from Neudorff, but many other manufacturers and brands also offer composters:
Where can you buy a composter?
There are usually several ways to buy a composter. You can buy a composter at any garden centre. All well-stocked DIY stores also sell them, for example you can buy a composter from Obi, a composter from Hagebau or a composter from Hornbach.
You can also order a new composter online. Many DIY and gardening chains have their own online shops. Amazon also has a large selection of composters.
What is the best composter: open or closed?
Closed compost bins have the advantage that the compost does not dry out, especially in summer. This slows down the composting process. In addition, the closed shape of composters generates heat, which promotes compost formation. If you have an open composter, you should only water the compost lightly on hot summer days.
How long does it take for the compost to turn into soil?
This depends on the composition of the compost and the type of composter. The same applies to the time of year. In summer, it takes about four to six months for the compost to mature. In winter, it takes a few months longer.
How do you fill the composters?
Good filling determines the quality of the compost and how long it will take to compost. There should be a layer of straw, bark, sawdust or wood shavings on the bottom. Also replace the so-called structurally stable composting materials (e.g. dried leaves) with softer garden or kitchen waste. Meat, however, should not be put in the compost. This can also attract rats.