Want to know what’s really cool about composting? You don’t need any of the things on this list. In fact, you don’t really need anything. You can just start piling stuff up on the ground and let it break down. Eventually, you’ll have beautiful compost. And if you invest in something like a pitchfork to turn your pile you’ll get beautiful compost even faster.
However, a few of these products are great because they either help you make compost faster or easier. If you’re a composter you’re probably into saving both the earth and your money. So we decided to make this list of the absolute best composting tools you can get so you don’t waste your hard-earned dollars.
We recommend only things that we have purchased ourselves, have experience with or researched the crap out of. Some of these we don’t own because we don’t find them necessary for our specific situation but, in those cases, we have talked to composters, read reviews, looked at prices and specs, and chosen what we feel is the best overall option.
So let’s check out the list!
Best Compost Tumbler: Envirocycle 37 Gallon
The Envirocycle in the best compost tumbler on the market for 95% percent of people. It is well sized (they have two size options), is meant to last for years rather than a few seasons, and is good looking enough that you can put it just about anywhere.
Speaking of putting it anywhere, one of the other major advantages is that is has a base that gathers the “runoff” from your compost. If you place your compost tumbler on your balcony, deck, or anywhere but over dirt, you’ll have to come up with a way to manage the mess of stuff that drips out of it which can stain, attract flies, and stink. The base of the envirocycle holds up to 2.5 gallons of compost tea. (Not strictly compost tea but that’s what envirocycle calls it)
If you’re not sure what size of tumbler you need (or you want one much larger than 37 gallons), you can read a full guide about compost tumbler size here. If you’d rather not read, just get two of the 17 gallon ones if you’re single, have a very small family, or don’t have any yard clippings to compost. If you have a family that produces significant food waste and/or have a yard, get two of the 37 gallons ones and you’ll be set!
We use two envirocycle tumblers in addition to our pile. We typically start our food scraps in one (to keep pests under control) and things that are very hard to break down (such as corn cobs and pine cones) in the other. We typically add the contents from our tumblers to pile every couple weeks but they could be finished all the way to compost if we wanted.
Best Upright Compost Bin: Algreen Products Soil Saver
Similar to a tumbler, the main purpose of a compost bin is to keep the stuff that you do want all together (your compost) and the stuff that you don’t want (flies, rats, bears, etc.) away from your compost. If you simply want a way to keep your pile more organized, many people have luck building a compost bin out of pallet or chicken wire, but you’ll have to find what works best for you.
Algreen’s Soil Saver Compost Bin is the choice for us (and hundreds of colleges, greenhouses, businesses, etc. In fact, it’s so popular that you can even find a three pack on Amazon! As far as compost bins go, it just does everything right. It is sufficiently sturdy to last for years, easyish to remove finished compost from, and has a large opening to add additional scraps and clippings.
If you live in a place where you can have open compost due to pests or laws (and want something bigger/cheaper than a tumbler) then this bin is the perfect option. The one thing I would recommend is that you get two of them so you can adequately rotate and heat up your compost.
If you’re in the market for a bin, you can check out our full review of Algreen’s Soil Saver Classic Compost Bin.
Best Compost Starter
Most people don’t actually need compost starter. We did. The best way to get the compost in your tumbler going is to simply use a scoop of dirt from your garden or ground. When we started we had just moved in to a new house and our dirt was so incredibly sandy and poor that we were afraid that if it got into our compost it would just suck the life out of it.
However, instead of buying a compost starter, we found it was easier to make our own. Wait, isn’t this our favorite products page? Well, yes. And our favorite compost starter is not one that you buy. Rather, check out our recipe for a homemade compost starter that will really get your tumbler or pile going!
Best Compost Aerator
While many people use a compost aerator, we have limited space (not to mention money) and need all of our tools to serve multiple purposes. We turn our compost in our pile with a pitchfork (or not at all, depending on how lazy we are).
When it comes to hand tools and yard implements I always suggest that people “buy once, cry once.” Meaning that you should bit the bullet and buy something you won’t have to replace a year or two from now. We followed our own advice and bought the Truper Tru Pro Pitchfork which is meant commercial ranch or farm use for a lifetime. It was easy to convince my wife that it was a good investement as the compost aerator of similar quality that we wanted was actually more expensive and less versetile.
And if we even quit composting? Well, it never hurts to have a pitchfork around!
*the affiliate link is the for wood handle version which I wish we would have found before buying. We ended up with the composite handle which, while nice, isn’t as great as the wood.
Remember what I said about choosing things that wear many hats? Well why would you have a wheelbarrow when you can have a wheelbarrow that is also a snowplow, a rock/plant-pot mover, a wagon, a dolly, and more?
We actually purchased the Aerocart when we were moving and needed a dolly. When we had finished out move we planned to sell it but I needed a wheelbarrow before it sold, used it, and ended up keeping it! Is it a great wheelbarrow? Honestly, no. It is an amazing dolly? It’s alright. However, since we only have one outdoor shed to keep all our stuff (and don’t make industrial sized loads of compost) this does the job(s) extremely well.
Eventually, we’ll upgrade to a hardier and beefier wheelbarrow to do dedicated jobs but, for now, we use this one, love it, and recommend it highly!
Bokashi Composting Kit
You don’t actually need to buy anything to start Bokashi Composting. There are DIY articles and YouTube videos that can get you going for very little money and just a touch of ingenuity. However, unlike most things, I didn’t really want to Macgyver a solution in this case. The idea of having a bucket of rotting meat bits that I had to deal with and drain juice from did not appeal to me (for some reason). I knew I was much better off in the long run to get a kit that would help me hit the ground running.
I did a bunch of searching and noticed that pretty much every store was selling the same kit. So, in an effort to get the best deal and customer service, I traced it back to the source. Bokashi Living is the company that provides the kit to almost every retailer.
We bought their two bucket bundle so that we could keep adding compostable bits to one while the other finished it’s magic (which is the recommended method). The buckets have held up fairly well (although they obviously need a cleaning haha) and we plan on using them for years to come. I was afraid that we would be too limited on space with only two buckets but the type of items that have to composted Bokashi style are few and far between so a single set of buckets will be sufficient for most people.
Kitchen Compost Bin
Buying a kitchen bin to keep your food scraps in isn’t rocket science. There are a dozen great options on the market and most will do the same thing: hold food scraps. Most will come in multiple colors, seal in odor, are made with easily cleanable materials, etc.
However, if you’re not interested in doing your own searching, this is the one we use and love. We didn’t get it because it matched our kitchen or because it was beautiful. We bought it because it does the job extremely well. While I know that are more innovative options on the market, we have no plans to change it out for another option any time soon.
Kitchen Composting Machine
Here’s the truth. I don’t own this anymore. Since we have a composting system I just couldn’t justify the space it took up. However, before we bought it I read lots of reviews, talked to a few owners, and honestly believe that this is still the best option.
While I don’t own this specific machine anymore I still own a Vitamix Blender which I feel was worth every penny. The company makes excellent products and provides very good customer service when needed.
So what does this thing actually do? It pretty much pulverizes and dehydrates food bits over the course of 6-8 hours (most people run it every night) into a form that can be spread over your garden or lawn. It does not “compost” them per say but does turn them into a usable fertiziler.
If traditional composting isn’t for you but you still want a way to reduce the impact of your food waste (and fertilize your plants) this could be a great option.
So what products do you use for composting?
Do you have experience with any of the items on this list? Let us know in the comments!