Composting with a 3-Stage Vertical Compost Bin

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This composting method uses a 3-bin system contained in one composter. This is best for gardens that will not have large amounts of compost  material, or who do not require fast compost turnover. These systems have three levels and air vents on each side. As the compost finishes, you can open the door to the next level and allow it to drop, giving you space in the first layer to add more material. A hatch at the bottom of the bin allows you to take out the finished compost. These systems are expensive, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not it will work for your garden. Best for those who may have physical barriers, since most systems are at waist level and don’t require much physical effort. Kids may need a step stool to be able to add material to  it. Additionally, you will not be turning the compost pile, so it will take longer than some other approaches. You can use a trowel to help break up and move the material around if needed. 

If you need a refresher on the basics of compost, use our post on Composting 101 and this infographic to help get up to speed. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when composting vertically:

  • Both your ratio of browns to greens and moisture levels will be very important in a closed system like this one. 
  • Since this is a closed system, you’ll need to add compost activator, finished compost, or herbivore manure to get the decomposition process going for the first couple batches of compost. Worms and other larger organisms (the ones you can see) won’t be able to survive in it- bacteria and fungi will be doing all the work for this kind of compost. 
  • This approach is good for gardens that struggle with pests. 
  • May not be the best approach for larger gardens, since these systems are smaller. If you do want to compost this way with a large garden, you may need to adopt a second approach alongside it.