Should a compost bin be covered? Compost Containment Tips | Do not disturb gardening (2023)

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Should a compost bin be covered? Compost Containment Tips | Do not disturb gardening (1)

There are many different ways to compost and it all starts with how the compost will be contained. After doing some research, I found that there are a lot of questions about whether or not to cover a compost pile, and everyone seems to have a different opinion. I have been making my own compost for several years and will share with you what I have learned from my own experience and research.

So should a compost bin be covered?No, in most cases an unfinished compost pile does not need to be covered. The most important factors for composting are air, water and a good mix of green and brown material. Covering a compost pile can starve it of oxygen, trap too much moisture, and create a smelly anaerobic mess.

Many different factors can affect a compost pile. Some of these factors are location, climate, mixed materials and the amount of moisture present in the pile, to name a few. In most cases, covering a compost pile is not the best. Many individuals can cover the compost pile with great success, so let's discuss the reasons why covering or not covering may be appropriate for each individual situation.

Using a Compost Cover or Lid

In general, an unfinished compost pile does not need to be covered. I never covered my compost bins and had great success making compost easily.

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The lack of cover allows rain and more oxygen to enter the pile, which is essential for the organisms that break down organic matter and turn it into compost.

A cover like A Canvas, for example, is a popular choice that I see suggested on other sites. I'm not saying this can't work, as I'm sure some people are having success with this method. However, depending on the pile's contents and moisture level, placing all of this material under a tight tarp can cause the pile to become a stinky, foul-smelling, anaerobic mess. The pile does not get enough airflow and oxygen when covered. If the pile is too wet to begin with, all the moisture will be trapped and unable to evaporate.

A cover for a compost pile may be necessary for gardeners in areas that receive a lot of rain. It's great if the pile can be watered naturally in the rain, but at the same time, a compost pile shouldn't be soaked all the time.

If that's the case for you, I'd rather suggest a hardcover, e.g. B. a lid from a trash can or a piece of plywood. This would keep the extra rainwater out but not suffocate the pile and allow for good airflow.

Another good option is to build the stake under an overhang. Perhaps the side of a house or shed has an overhang. This would be a great spot for a compost pile for those who live in a particularly humid climate. If this is not possible, consider building an overhang over the silo. Even for those who don't live in a humid climate, this can still be a good solution to fully control the amount of moisture in the pile.

Would a cover help warm my pile in cold weather?

For those who live in colder climates, there are other considerations and potential benefits of putting a lid on a compost bin. A lid or lid can help to insulate and heat the pile so that the composting process goes faster. In that case, a piece of old carpet might be a good idea. This can provide additional insulation, allowing oxygen and rainwater to pass into the chimney.

A dark colored tarp can also be used to help heat the pile. Note, however, that moisture levels will need to be monitored and the pile may need to be turned more frequently to get more oxygen in the mix. Check our articleWhen should I turn over my compost pile?for more information on this topic!

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Again, based on my own experience, I didn't need to cover my compost bins. I live in zone 6a and we have very cold winters. I mix crushed leaves and coffee grounds to create a hot compost pile and the compost is ready in less than a year.

Once the compost is ready, it's a good idea to use it in the garden right away, cover it or store it in containers. Rain can cause the compost to release nutrients. So make sure these nutrients are put to good use in the garden rather than wasted.

Does a compost bin need ventilation holes?

I emphasized that a compost pile needs good air circulation, so it seems that a compost pile should have ventilation holes on the sides. I'd say this would help, but it's not a requirement. I would rather suggest building a compost bin using whatever materials and skills are easiest. Focus more on building and layering the stack materials.

Good air circulation within the contents of a compost pile is more important than its external structure. The organic material should not compact and the moisture content should be as wet as a squeezed sponge.

The best way to set up a compost pile is to mix the pile with material of different sizes. It's great to have small format material like grass clippings and chopped leaves. However, this tends to fog and suffocate any living organism. Incorporating larger materials into this mix, such as items such as kindling, wood shavings, and shrubbery, can help create more air pockets and prevent the pile from getting tangled.

Should a compost bin have a base?

I would not recommend a compost bin to have a base. A base such as solid wood, concrete, or some other hard material would prevent earthworms and other beneficial creatures from the soil below from entering the compost bin.

A solid base would also not allow for proper drainage and the pile could get too wet. If for some reason a base is absolutely necessary, consider adding some drainage holes or slanting the bottom to allow water to drain off somehow.

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Some people may have issues with rodents or other animals getting into a compost bin. If that's the case, it might be a good idea to use chicken wire on the bottom of the tank to prevent these animals from burrowing underneath. Chicken wire or other similar material would still allow drainage and soil life to enter the compost.

Another suggestion for animal concerns and problems is not to put food scraps in the compost pile. Food scraps are probably the main reason the pile attracts these animals. Instead, a worm would be a much better option for those with a lot of leftovers.

We are not discouraged by this, but although our outer man deteriorates, our inner man is renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Simple solutions for compost bins

First, I would like to briefly mention that there are two types of composting: hot composting and cold composting. In short, hot composting requires a minimum area of ​​three feet by three feet by three feet of material to “heat”. This creates ready compost quickly. Cold composting, on the other hand, is more of a 'pile it somewhere and forget it' approach, which can take anywhere from one to three years to get finished compost. Both options work, one is just faster than the other.

Most people prefer hot compost so they can get to that precious “black gold” as quickly as possible.

pallet composter

I built a two pallet box composting system (see main image). I received the pallets for free and assembling them was very easy. All I used were adjustable zippers to hold them together. This method allows me to open a door on each side where I can easily access the stack to rotate it.

Should a compost bin be covered? Compost Containment Tips | Do not disturb gardening (2)
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The contents of my pile are a mixture of chopped leaves and grass clippings, and then I put used coffee grounds in the middle while I fill the bins. I fill both sides to the top in the fall and turn it over when the pile starts to cool. By early to midsummer the contents of the bins will have reduced enough that I can combine them on one side of the bin and create another compost pile on the empty side.

I use the finished compost in the fall, spreading an inch or two over my beds. I also sieve and store some of this compost in five gallon buckets for late winter use as an ingredient in my seed and potting mix for all my seed and spring planting needs.

Other compost pile considerations

  • wireframe.Any type of wire mesh or fencing material can be used to create a cylindrical ring containing compost. This is a quick and easy fix and does not require a permanent structure.
  • Large trash can.Many holes must be drilled into this container to ensure good air circulation and drainage. Mix and turn the compost with a garden fork or roll the garbage can around the garden!
  • compost cup.You can buy a compost bin online or at a garden supply store. This is the same garbage can idea with an easier way to turn the compost over by turning a crank.

For more links and information about the composting products we use and recommend, visit ourbest compost productsbook page!

Related questions

Should the compost bins be in the sun or in the shade?A compost bin can be placed in both sun and shade. Either way, great compost can be made when the green and brown stuff is mixed properly. A sunny location can help heat the compost bin, which would help with faster compost production, but it's not necessary to place it in the sun.

Do you need two compost bins?I would definitely recommend a two-bin composting system if space permits. This allows a complete pile to be built, and while that pile is composting, new material can be added to the second bin.

Does the compost smell?A compost bin only smells bad if an anaerobic environment has been created. This occurs when the material is too wet, lacks oxygen and/or has a lot of green material. Otherwise, if these components are correct, the compost bin will not smell at all.

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