There are too many effective composting methods for you to spend your time pursuing ones that you hate or cannot sustainably add to your schedule. If you want to compost, there’s a way to make it happen.
The best method of composting is one that fits into your space and schedule. This is absolutely essential for your success. There are no achievement badges awarded for forcing yourself to create a giant compost pile because you’re told that is “what real gardeners do”.
Play to your strengths when choosing your method. Are you a busy mom wrangling little ones while microwaving her cup of coffee for the 3rd time this morning? Perhaps a composting method requiring less hands on care would be more accommodating to your current season of life. If your aging body is finding it can no longer turn a compost pile without severe back pain, consider a different method that will lessen the physicality of composting while still churning out that black gold for your gardening needs.
Four Composting Methods Perfect for Beginners
Those who create compost on a residential scale typically employ one or more of the following methods: Open Air Composting, Tumbler Composting, Direct Composting and Vermicomposting. The science behind the composting process is essentially the same throughout all methods. Each method just takes a slightly different approach to achieving the same end goal, and those slight modifications can make a world of difference in finding a method that works with your schedule and space.
Open Air Composting
Open Air Composting is essentially your standard outdoor compost pile. This method of composting involves layering your green and brown materials (more on that here), adding moisture, and occasionally turning the pile to reintroduce oxygen into the mix. This method of composting is ideal if you want to create large quantities of compost fairly quickly, though don’t be fooled, it still takes a while. Open air composting is perfect for recycling large amounts of yard waste and kitchen scraps, but choose your location carefully since it isn’t as easy to relocate as other methods of composting. Open air composting is also the most physically exerting of the four methods, though I’ve personally found the physical activity to be a cathartic perk rather than a deterrent.
Tumbler composting is similar to open air composting but operates on a much smaller level. A tumbler can hold a certain amount of compostable material and is turned by a hand crank rather than a pitchfork. Although the quantity of finished compost is less than a larger compost pile, the quality is certainly not sacrificed. A tumbler is perfect for use in small spaces, affords versatility in location, and is less physically intense than an open air compost pile. I’ve seen composting tumblers in carparks, behind corporate offices, and in school settings. Although a compost tumbler can be more expensive on the front end, those looking for a method that’s easy to relocate and relatively low maintenance need look no further.
Direct composting is about as simple as it gets. No fuss of purchasing a tumbler or framing a compost pile: you just dig a trench in your garden, fill it with compostable materials, and cover it back up. This works best for in-ground gardens or large container beds, and if you are in no rush to produce compost. The materials slowly break down and provide your garden with wonderful nutrients in the process.
Vermicomposting can feel very edgy to new gardeners. Vermicomposting is a composting method where worms take center stage. While slightly different than the previous 3 methods, vermicomposting is fantastic for the compost-curious with little to no space available to attempt anything else. Plus, vermicomposting boasts a huge benefit that other methods of composting can’t match: worm castings. Worm castings, or worm poop, packs a punch in mineral content immediately available to growing plants. Vermicompost and worm castings are highly sought after in the gardening world and offer huge returns for even a little amount of finished compost.
Once you figure out which method of composting is a good fit for your space and schedule, give it a go! Try more than one method if you’re feeling up to it! Creating your own compost can be one of the most rewarding ventures in your gardening journey, providing rich benefits to your garden while growing you into the gardener of your dreams.