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What is a Garden Compost Bin?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Garden compost bins are devices that are used to store and facilitate the decomposition of various materials so they can be used to fertilize garden soil. In some cases, the bin is a simple container that serves as a storage area while the natural rotting process takes place. Other compost bins are designed to speed the process along, making it possible to recycle grass clippings, wood chips and even animal manure into effective fertilizer.

One of the more common designs for the garden compost bin is known as the holding unit or bin. This type of compost bin is intended to simply house various materials as they decompose. It is not unusual for bins of this type to be constructed using a wood frame made from treated wood, with galvanized chicken wire or wire mesh for the sides and top of the bin. A configuration of this type allows the contents to be constantly exposed to the open air, which in turn aids in the decomposition process. As a bonus, a garden compost bin made with these lightweight materials can easily be moved whenever necessary.

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A second approach to the garden compost bin is known as a turning unit. Devices of this type do more than simply house materials as they decompose. A turning garden compost bin is suspended in a frame and can be turned or rotated from time to time. Some models are constructed with a hand crank, making it possible to rotate the contents at will. Newer models feature a small motor and battery that is operated with the use of a push button mechanism. A compost mixer of this type makes it easier to jumble the contents from time to time, which helps to speed up the decomposition process.

It is important to note that a garden compost bin may actually be a series of bins. This is particularly true with compost tumblers or turners. The gardener may choose to use the series of bins to sort different types of materials for compost, or as a means of segregating older materials from recently added clippings or other types of compost.

While it is possible to purchase a garden compost bin from a lawn and garden shop as well as a home supply store, the process for building composting bins is relatively simple. Most require nothing more than a few basic tools and materials, along with a couple of hours to complete the project. Plans for holding units as well as turning units are found in a number of gardening books as well as web sites devoted to vegetable and flower gardening.

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