February 9, 2012

The Aerobin 400: Our New Composting System

We've got a new composting system! Some of you may remember our previous DIY compost bin we made right around a year ago at our old house. It consisted of drilling holes throughout a metal trash bin, setting it up atop of some planks and adding/mixing organic matter over time. This was a great bin for getting us started with composting; for anyone interested in the fuller details of how we made it, see here.

Old composter:

Now, let's talk about the new system. Given our recent move to the city, new factors came into play when deciding how to proceed with composting. We needed something compact (preferably vertical) to maintain the efficiency of our small space, and being in the city, we'd need to go ahead and invest in a system that aids in keeping rodents away. Our neighbors have told us to watch out for mice as the weather heats up, so we don't want to take any chances and decided to forgo the drilled bin system we'd been using at our old place.

We've been eyeing a self sufficient system called the Aerobin 400. Sounds fancy, right? After keeping it on the radar, we were able to pounce when a particular promotion came up to make it ours. Shopping tip: For those of you unfamiliar with the site Price Grabber, it basically tracks the lowest of the low prices on any product you are shopping for — so if you have the time to wait and watch, you can hunt down some great deals.

The only thing DIY about this new bin was the initial assembly, which was super easy, and getting the right mixture of carbon/nitrogen organic matter inside as we proceed.

Some of the added benefits of this specific compost bin we are looking forward to are the claims that the contents require no turning or watering — that the "lung" component provides the air the compost needs to thrive and aside from adding the correct "ingredients" that the bin will take care of the rest.

In addition to it being a self service bin, there is a grated draining floor at the bottom of the bin that collects excess moisture. At the bottom of the bin is a spout where we'll be able to access this liquid leachate (also known as compost tea and liquid gold) that can be diluted with water and used as natural plant fertilizer.

We have a bit of a long narrow run along the back side of our house where our back door accesses the back patio. Directly to the side of the door access was a little nook were the bin fit perfectly. This placement is out of the way of the main back area (which is straight ahead in the below shots) and somewhat out of visibility if you're not looking for it. The best part is how we'll be able to access it directly over the side rail from the back door — so convenient, given our last compost bin was located in the furthest back corner of our yard.

For those unfamiliar with composting, it's basically a process of compiling organic matter in the forms of carbon and nitrogen that if mixed together correctly, will decompose into "compost," a dark and rich soil-like substance that is an incredible natural fertilizer for gardening. The benefits of composting for us include the fact that we can contribute less overall waste to the trash system, and put our kitchen scraps to good use as fertilizer for the new food we'll be growing — see how the cycle goes round? The whole process can take anywhere from 3-6 months before seeing any compost.

Organic matter in the case of composting refers to carbon materials (brown and dry) or nitrogen materials (green and moist).

Nitrogen: coffee grounds, flowers, fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, green leaves, and weeds.

Carbon: dry leaves, eggshells, hair, lint, straw, wood shavings.

As a rule of thumb, materials to avoid include: dairy, meat, bones, animal waste, grease or greasy foods, and oils.

To get things going, we tossed in kitchen scraps we've been reserving over the past few weeks. We're hoping they get all cozy and start to do their thang. We've heard it's generally a best practice to mix in a little already active compost when beginning a new compost pile just to get things moving along, so we might try tossing a small amount in when we get the chance. If all goes according to plan, we may have the beginnings of fresh compost to use in early May.

Anyhoo...we're pretty excited about our new system and as usual, we'll keep you (com)posted on how everything shapes up!

Do you compost? We'd love to hear what type of system you use be it a pile in the yard or other contained version. What have you found works best?


  1. Holy mother that looks like the Mecca of composite bins! Sah-weet! I used to compost when we lived in Washington, but since we have moved to Juneau I've not taken it up again. I'm afraid to try here...I'm worried it will bring the bears around. The neighbors tell me a mama and her 3 cubs played on our front porch in the summer and spring so I think I might hold off.

    Plus worse than bears are the ravens. My mailbox currently looks like a crime scene because the ravens opened it up and tore apart everything inside. So, I'll just read your blog and wistfully think of the good memories when I used to compost :)

  2. Angie your comment made us both laugh out loud! I can just imagine the way your mailbox looks and bet those ravens had a field day! Sounds similar to what basil does if we don't get to the mailman each day first. We love all of your stories and learning more about life in Juneau.

  3. Thanks so much for this post! We're looking for an urban composting system! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Sure thing! Let us know how it goes, we were thrilled to find this one and it's been working well so far...loving the intro to you Park&Belmont Blog!

  4. Hi all. Just stumbled upon this posting and was checking out your new wizbang composter. All of the ones I found were expensive so I took a couple of short fence posts, those green ones, along with some chicken wire and made a 3ft in diameter bin. We compost our kitchen scraps as well as yard waste. We are the only ones on our street that doesn't have the town pick up their leaves with that vacuum truck. We have a chipper shredder that will take a 3 inch branch as well as the leaves. Of course we give back some of the environmental benefit of our efforts by running a fossil fuel machine. I try to be ready when I start it up so I can use it as efficiently as possible.

    Oh, one other thing, you can compost paper towels and napkins as well. We are up to 2 bins and have a waiting list to get in. davinci622

  5. AeroBin is an awesome compost bin. It's the most advanced compost bin available and by far the most popular compost bin for its price range.


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