Pros & Cons of Commercial Composting

Pros & Cons of Commercial Composting

This method of composting uses some of the elements listed in 8 Composting Methods; Water, air, biodegradable matter, Bacteria, and some chemicals.
The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else. Commercial composting is done on a large scale to dispose of material that cannot be easily disposed of in a council tip and that can be produced quickly for commercial use.

It requires

  • A large commercial area to collect, compost, store, and bag compost
  • Expensive machinery to move and rotate compost
  • Infrastructure to collect and bag composted material
  • A distribution system to on-sell the compost
  • Different brands use different ingredients so some may be good while others are not so good and often not composted enough before you get to use them.
  • Commercial compost is excellent for filling a new garden bed or a raised garden bed if you require large quantities, because it is generally cheap and the consistency is mostly the same with each brand.
  • It does vary with brands so you need to try different brands to find one you like as it may not necessarily be good compost.
  • It can be cheap or expensive depending on the quality of the ingredients and the manufacturer
  • Small independent producers usually produce more expensive better compost
  • Ultimately you can’t beat making your own Compost.  You know what goes into it and what you get out of it.  No chemicals, no added fertiliser. Therefore if you are growing your own veggies you know what goes into the soil.  It is hard to know for sure what is in your food these days if you buy it commercially unless you buy certified organic compost.
  • In the end commercially produced compost is
  • Readily available
  • Quality varies from brand to brand
  • Can be cheap or expensive
  • Great as a filler for garden beds or lawns

Pros & Cons of Combined Compot Composting

Pros & Cons of Combined Compot Composting

Combined Compot composting is similar to trench composting except that it uses all the elements listed in the 8 Composting Methods; especially the Soldier Fly.
The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.  This method brings with it the same challenges depending on your ability to bend down but the system can be used above ground as well and will be discussed in another post.

It requires

  • Digging a hole – only once for each pot, then no more holes to dig
  • Planting your Pot
  • Filling with ‘ALL’ your kitchen waste
  • Locking on lid and covering with anything but dirt
  • Dispose of all your kitchen waste including meat, dairy, citrus, eggs, onions, oil
  • Dispose of anything bio-degradable
  • Dispose of animal excrement – doggie doos etc. (not in your veggie garden)
  • Decomposes super fast – with the help of the Black Soldier Fly
  • Worms come. You do not need to add worms unless you have really  bad soil
  • Worms don’t die. They look after themselves
  • Worms, therefore, nourish your garden with no effort from you
  • You don’t have to feed your worms if you go away on holidays.
  • Nourishes all different parts of your garden with little to no work by planting a few around your garden.  Therefore…
  • You do need more than one – or simply move some around the garden every now and then. But that to me requires digging more holes.  I prefer not to move mine.
  • Empties by itself unless you intentionally want to harvest soil
  • Works all year round – (varies with different climates)
  • Can be used as a worm farm by filling with worm friendly waste only
  • Takes only one month to 6 weeks max to produce composted soil (if you want to collect soil)
  • Invisible in your garden
  • Reversible lid allows you to mow over it
  • Safe for young toddlers.  Lockable lid
  • Takes the weight of a 50kg child running across
  • The lid pushes in if an adult stands on it  – within reason
  • Does not need a carbon/nitrogen ratio
  • Does not have to be dry to work – the wetter the better
  • Utilises your wastewater as well – without detergent
  • Soaking your waste in wastewater makes it work faster
  • Fermenting your waste keeps unwanted animals away like rats, bush turkeys, dogs
  • You can have as many or as little as you like and use it in whatever manner you like
  • It is small for a reason – because it is more efficient in this size, nourishing many different parts of your garden without the need to spread compost. The worms do the work for you
  • You don’t need to wait for everything to decompose.  Just keep topping it up
  • Liquid goes directly into the ground
  • On the downside – it helps if you can bend down.  Otherwise, put the Compot inside raised garden beds.
  • Seeds can grow from the composted material if you don’t ferment your waste
  • Yes, you have to dig a hole.  But once you have dug that hole you never need to dig another hole unless you want to move it and make more work for yourself.  It’s your choice
  • And nothing to do with composting but the Compot loves Soldier Fly Larvae.   Great for your chooks and fish also, if you have them.
  • Plant one in your chock pen and let the chooks search for the larvae.  But don’t ferment your waste in your chook pen. They don’t like the smell.
  • Propagate green food for you chooks on top of the Compot with the CompotTOP.
  • Or propagate seeds for yourself in the upturned lid while composting below if you like to grow your own herbs and other things as well
  • If there is one thing that it does not do and that is collecting the liquid to water your pot plants. But the liquid goes directly into the soil so this is, in fact, one less chore for me.
  • And if you harvest the soil from them you can use this soil in your pot plants providing them with the nutrients that you would get from worm tea.
  • Or you can soak the collected soil and make compost tea yourself if you have the time.
  • It is small – this is so it decomposes quicker, is hidden in your garden and takes up no space
  • You cannot fail at composting with this system
  • The Compot is the most versatile way to compost but:
  • You have to dig one hole per pot
  • You have to bend down unless you have raised garden beds
  • You can’t really use them for yard waste except for grass clipping and leaves on top to cover it which actually helps break down the grass clippings.

There are now a number of commercial direct composters on the market that you have no doubt seen and I know many of you have tried.

I have had lots of feedback of these products from people I talk to at the trade shows.

They do work the same way to a point, but not quite, and some of them go beneath the root zone of the plants, which means you have a big hole to dig, and the nutrients are lost below the 30 cm zone unless you have deep-rooted plants.

Others are not aerated the same way.

Others are hard to harvest the soil.

Others are bio-degradable so you have to keep buying them.

And almost all of them are visible in your garden and you can’t mow over them or propagate with them.
But in the end, it is your choice.

I just hope some of this information helps in making the right decision for you on a composter that is going to give you years of joy and a beautiful garden.

Pros & Cons of EMO Composting

Pros & Cons of EMO Composting

This system requires only one of the composting elements listed in 8 Composting Methods; this is the addition of the EMO’s (Effective Micro-Organisms) and a closed method of composting.
The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else. Bokashi is the standard system for EMO composting.
Like the other systems it too has its own different challenges;

It requires

  • Monitoring
  • Emptying
  • Burying
  • Or disposal in the council bin – negating the purpose of composting
  • It requires Effective Micro-Organisms (EMO’s for fermentation / decomposition )
  • Juice needs collecting, but this is great for your plants
  • Oil, water, milk, juice or bones should not be added
  • Once you fill it you have to let it sit until it has all decomposed.  Therefore…
  • You need two, so while one is decomposing you fill up the other one.  This might be an issue in a unit but it all depends on how much space you have.
  • Waste is acidic when first buried and can’t be placed close to plants because it might burn the roots of the plants.
  • The waste in the garden takes 7 to 10 days to neutralize.  This is not an issue if you bury the waste in an appropriate place
  • You must ensure the lid is closed while it is decomposing
  • If it is not closed properly it can cause a problem with bugs inside the house
  • The process is not super fast as it relies on Bacteria only to break down the waste
  • It takes up space in your kitchen or shed or on your balcony. Not a big deal if you have space
  • It requires a new hole to be dug each time it is emptied
  • It is however great for unit owners but where do they put the waste once decomposed?  Do you send it off to council tips or bury it in the community gardens of the unit complex.
  • I say get a Compot to compliment the Bokashi.  This way you only have one hole to dig to fill with your fresh Bokashi waste.  Move the pot around the garden every 6 months to a year so you don’t have to dig as many holes as you did before.   The best of both worlds and you can use the Compot to fill with all the scraps that you can’t put in the Bokashi.
  • So the Bokashi is great for units and great if you have a Compot but on its own
  • You have to keep digging holes
  • You can’t dispose of ALL your kitchen waste
  • You can’t collect compost and use it somewhere else.
  • It is slow to decompose as soon as you cover it with dirt.

Pros & Cons of Worm Farm Composting

Pros & Cons of Worm Farm Composting

Worm farm systems require some of the composting elements listed in 8 Composting Methods, (but not all); carbon and nitrogen to a degree, air, water and worm friendly scraps.   The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else. This method brings with it some great rewards of beautiful composted soil. However;

Trays need

  • Monitoring
  • Rotating
  • Emptying
  • Spreading
  • Worms need to be added and bedding provided to protect the worms
  • Worms die from overheating  or cold if conditions are not perfect
  • Produces beautiful juice but this needs collecting or worms can drown
  • They do produce beautiful worm tea
  • Only certain foods can be added – No onions, meat, oil, dairy, eggs, citrus:
  • The worms must preferably not be overfed
  • It takes time to decompose – worms only eat decomposed food
  • It helps to cut the food into small pieces for quicker decomposition so a little extra work
  • Weed seeds and tubers are not destroyed as there are no hot areas
  • Soldier Fly larvae get in and kill the worms or simply crowd them out leaving your worm farm with no worms come winter time when the soldier flies hibernate if it gets too cold (depends on climate)
  • When trays are full they can be very heavy to rotate and empty
  • Worms will die if not fed as they cannot move around a garden to find food.
  • If you go away on holidays you need to get someone to feed them
  • It is visible and takes up space in your garden – a small space though
  • Can be great in a garage in a small townhouse with no backyard
  • For many worm farming is a rewarding and effective method to breed up worms
  • They are great for breeding worms but they
  • take up space in the garden or garage
  • is visible; &
  • requires work

Pros & Cons of Tumbler Composting

Pros & Cons of Tumbler Composting

Tumbler systems require some of the composting elements listed in the 8 Composting Methods; especially a combination of carbon and nitrogen, air, water and vegetable scraps (optional).

The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.

This method brings with it the same challenges as the open air method, plus other different challenges;

It requires

  • Monitoring
  • Watering
  • Turning
  • Emptying
  • Spreading
  • Worms are often added which is futile as they die when the temperature heats up
  • The right combination of matter is critical or the tumbler can turn into a big smelly slushy mess that no one wants to touch
  • Two are required – while one is decomposing a second one is being filled
  • Too much turning is no good while too little turning is equally as bad
  • Only certain foods can be added and it takes a long time to decompose
  • It requires a large amount of green waste to obtain only a small amount of compost
  • It requires ongoing heavy work that some people find too hard
  • Having said that – it is great exercise for some people
  • It is visible and takes up space in your garden especially if you have two
  • If you don’t turn them the contents will clump together at the base like a big blob, making it extremely difficult to turn and empty.
  • If not insulated they will only work in summer
  • If they get infested with the Soldier fly it can be unpleasant for some people when they open the door and all the flies fly out at them.  Same as in a worm farm.
  • The Soldier Flies can make it smell putrid
  • Great for your green waste but too much won’t fit depending on the size
  • You do need to chop up your green waste to fit in some styles and to decompose quicker
  • If you don’t turn them the acid produced from food waste can rot out the bottom especially if it is made of metal.  A common problem when people forget to turn them
  • They have been known to smell terrible depending on what you put in them
  • You would have to monitor the heat generated inside much like the open air method
  • Small ones can be purchased instead of big ones which can, therefore, save on space.
  • Double ones can be purchased so you can rotate filling them and resting one.
  • Produces beautiful compost after it has sat for a few months
  • You can’t put ALL your kitchen waste in these systems.
  • If you do none of these things and just toss your waste in and let it sit and decompose slowly it will work but it will be very hard to eventually turn and empty
  • Much like the open air method, you need two to three depending on the amount of waste you have for them to work efficiently; therefore
  • it can take up space in the garden
  • is visible; &
  • requires work

Pros & Cons of Direct Trench Composting

Pros & Cons of Direct Trench Composting

This method uses only some of the composting elements listed in 8 Composting Methods; Water, Worms, Vegetable matter and Bacteria.

The pros and cons are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.

It is essentially the same as digging a hole.   To me, this is the cheapest way to compost if you want to save money and the best, but it too has some challenges.

It requires

  • Digging a hole – every time you bury your waste
  • Filling only with worm friendly waste
  • Covering with dirt
  • Waiting for a few months to decompose
  • You can only bury worm friendly food – generally speaking
  • It needs to be buried at a certain depth to avoid critters digging it up
  • Dairy, eggs, meat or bones will attract rats, mice, and other native animals
  • Cannot be refilled until all decomposed or you make a big mess digging up a previous hole
  • A new hole must be dug each time you bury your waste – a little extra work
  • If you don’t have enough garden you may run out of places to dig holes
  • It decomposes really slowly once you cover it with dirt as there is no aeration
  • It is not exposed to the same elements once you cover it with dirt
  • You have to separate your waste to bury some and throw the rest in your council bin or freeze it till council pick up day.  For me, I don’t have space in the freezer.
  • You are wasting half your waste that you could be composting
  • It is, however, the cheapest most amazing way to compost but you can’t bury meat, dairy, citrus, onion, eggs and a few other things that rats and other critters will dig up.
  • It works faster if you chop everything up into small pieces or blend for super fast results which therefore requires a further step and more utensils to clean
  • Definitely not good if you have a bad back but
  • great exercise to keep you fit if you have the time
  • The worms do love it though and will produce beautiful nutrient rich soil
  • This to me produces the best result in your garden but
  • You have to keep digging holes
  • You can’t dispose of ALL your kitchen waste
  • You can’t collect it and use it somewhere else.
  • You need a reasonable amount of space for all the holes
  • It is slow to decompose

Pros & Cons of Open Air Composting

Pros & Cons of Open Air Composting

Open Air Composting requires all of the composting elements listed in the 8 Composting Methods; especially a combination of carbon and nitrogen, air, water and vegetable scraps (optional).

The open-air system can be a bay combination or a bin upturned on the ground with aeration holes in the side.

The pros and cons of open-air composting are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.

This method brings with it a variety of common challenges:

It requires

  • Monitoring
  • Watering
  • Turning
  • Spreading
  • Worms are naturally attracted to this method but will leave if conditions are not perfect.
  • Temperature is paramount to success as is pH.  If it doesn’t reach the required temperature it will not decompose or alternatively, may turn into a big slushy mess
  • The nitrogen to carbon ratio is very important in this system
  • It is preferable to have 2 to 3 bays in order to rotate the compost piles and allow time for the composting process to work.  Use the oldest material first
  • Three bays also helps speed up the composting
  • An upturned bin must be filled from the top and emptied from the bottom
  • You can only put worm friendly food in both these systems so as not to attract rats
  • If you don’t have the right mix it can smell.  Fine in the country but not suburbia
  • It attracts annoying little vinegar flies often seen buzzing around the compost heap.  Again fine in the country but something you or your neighbours may not like.
  • Snakes and rats can nest and breed in the warm conditions
  • Both these systems (Bay and Gedye) take a long time to decompose
  • Turning to aerate is an essential part of this process
  • Moving a Gedye can be hard work if they are too full.
  • Turning the bays can be hard work.
  • You may need to cover them when it rains so they don’t get too wet.
  • You must spread the contents to see benefits in other parts of the garden
  • Large amounts of green waste are required to obtain only a small amount of usable compost
  • Ideal if you are a farmer and have lots of green waste to mulch with farm animal excrement
  • Great if you have the time to monitor, turn etc
  • Good for destroying seeds – but will only work if it reaches the required temperature
  • Have been known to catch alight if they get too hot and dry – extreme conditions
  • Can be left to sit for months at a time and eventually will turn to compost
  • Some bins have aeration holes that attract flies
  • Can smell if filled with the wrong materials and not turned
  • Open air piles are great for the chooks to forage and catch food.
  • Requires spreading around your garden
  • Two to three piles are generally needed for this method to work effectively; therefore
  • it takes up a lot of space in the garden
  • is visible; &
  • requires work

In-Ground Composter Comparison Guide

In-Ground Composter Comparison Guide

In-ground composter comparison guide takes a quick look at several composters now available on the market.

The old tried and true method of composting directly in the ground has been made easier by the use of in-ground composters.  This saves time and effort in digging holes around the garden and in some cases is more efficient.

The comparison is based on my own experiences and information given to me by my customers who have tried many of these methods.   Of course, what might suit one person does not suit another as we all have different needs and ways of using things to get results we expect in the garden.

Feel free to add comments if you have found any different results from any of these methods.  It all helps other people in their decision-making process of choosing a composter.

They all have a place in our gardens.  It is up to you which one you choose.

For further information on choosing a composter, you might like to read the 12 Things to consider when choosing a composter.    This looks at all the different types of composters – not just in-ground composters.

12 Things to consider when choosing a composter

12 Things to Consider when Choosing a Composter

1. What is it you hate about composting?

a.  The time it takes to manage some composters – and/or it’s a chore
b.  The smell some composters produce
c.  The difficulty with getting the right nitrogen/carbon mix
d.  Don’t like big composters taking up space or being visible in the garden
e.  The vermin they attract – flies and rats or snakes nesting inside them
f.  The continuous cost of an extra product to make some composters work

2. What do you want to achieve by composting?
Or – What do you like about Composting.

a.  Produce soil to use for growing veggies and ornamental plants
b.  Don’t want to use fertilizers in your garden
c.  Prefer a more organic system
d.  Want to help the environment
e.  Just want good soil in your backyard
f.  Hate throwing your waste in the council bin or
g.  Storing overnight in a freezer
h.  Hate smelly council bins

3.  What do you want to compost?

a.  All your kitchen or just some of it.
b.  Worm friendly waste only
c.  Garden waste, green waste, grass clippings, weeds etc
d.  Animal excrement – dog and cat poo in particular
e.  Farm animal waste

4.  Do you have animals that get a portion or all of your waste?

a.  Chickens / Ducks / Geese / Guinea Pigs / Rabbits
b.  Horses / Cows / Goats / Pigs / Sheep
c.  Dogs / Cats
d.  Wildlife – Bandicoots / Foxes / Busk Turkeys / Antechinus

5.  How much time do you have to compost?

a.  Your time is your own – unlimited (retired perhaps)
b.  You have some time but prefer to use it for gardening or other activities
c.  You are too busy to compost
d.  You have children that can do it for you

6.  Do you grow or want to grow vegetables?

a.  You want to grow your own vegetables
b.  You already grow your own vegetables
c.  You want to teach the kids how to grow their own vegetables
d.  You have not had much success with propagating and growing your own food

7. Your physical fitness?

a.  Back problems – Can’t lift heavy weights Can’t bend down
b.  Disabilities – wheelchair bound
c.  Age
d.  General health

8. Size of your property?

a.  Farmland – unfenced / fenced
b.  Large / small urban block
c.  Courtyard
d.  Unit / Balcony
e.  Other

9. How many people in your household?

a.  One person
b.  Two people
c.  A family of three to five
d.  A family of five to ten
f.  More

10. How much waste do you produce?

a.  One bucket full a day
b.  One bucket full every 2 to 3 days
c.  One bucket full once a week
d.  One bucket full every two weeks
e.  More than one bucket a day

11. What is your climate like?

a.  Temperate
b.  Tropical
c.  Sub-Tropical
d.  Cold
e.  Arctic.  You live in the snow perhaps
f.  Desert. Hot and dry

12. What type of soil do you have?

a.  Normal
b.  Sandy / Sandy Loam
c.  Clay / Clay Loam
d.  Shale
e.  Introduced top soil
f.  Raised Garden Beds – a mixture

8 Different Methods of Composting

1.  Open air composting (hot /cold composting)

open-air-composting
open_air_compost
open_air_composting
open-air-compost

2. Direct Composting (trench or in-ground composting)

direct-composting
trench-composting
ground-composting
ground-compost

3. Tumbler composting (A form of hot composting)

tumbler-composting
tumbler_compost
hot-composting
hot-compost

4. Worm composting (Vermicomposting)

worm-composting
worm-compost
vermicomposting
vermi-composting

5. EMO composting (Bacteria composting)

emo_composting
bokashi_composting
bokashi-bin
bokashi_waste

6. Compot Composting (Combination Composting)

compot_combination_composting
Combined_'Compot'_Composting
compot_in_garden
compot_inside

7. Commercial Composting

composting_machine
commercial_composter
commercial_composting
steaming_compost

8. Mechanical Composting