Does a Compost Bin Need to be Dark?

Compost bins have distinct features. You have compost bins with one or multiple compartments; you have compost bins available in small, medium, and large sizes, and you also have compost bins that are fully or partly enclosed.

Color is dismissed as an aesthetic feature, but it’s more important than most people think, particularly when the temperatures are low, and you need to increase or maintain your compost’s warm temperature.

You don’t have to choose a dark compost bin, but by having one you have better chances of keeping your compost active.

In this article, I’m going to explain what compost bins are and why opt for one that is dark and why that is an important feature to have.

What is a Compost Bin?

A compost bin is a container in which you place organic waste that is converted into compost over time.

I design compost bins to hasten the decomposition of organic waste through aeration and moisture retention. With the right combination of ingredients, you can create the ideal conditions for microorganisms to thrive and produce the high temperatures that allow organic waste to be broken down into compost.

You can create those same conditions with a “pile” or “heap” on the ground, but a compost bin helps speed up decomposition.

Depending on the type of compost bin you get, it can prevent your compost from losing warmth, and keep it protected from elements like rain and snow. Some compost bins can also fend off pests and rodents, and allow you to turn compost with little effort.

Different Types of Compost Bins

There are all kinds of compost bins, including store-bought and homemade, that can be built using several materials such as lumber, branches, stone, cinder blocks, wire fencing, metal, plastic, and even ceramic.

Below, we are going to look at the five common types of compost bins.

Compost bin

A compost bin is a stationary container that rests on the ground.

It takes longer to produce compost with this type of compost bin because it’s difficult to aerate its contents. While it has a lot of space and you can toss plenty of organic scraps into it, it’s tricky to get a shovel or pitchfork into the compost heap to turn it, which means it takes longer for the organic waste to decompose.

It should take you between two and three months to have compost ready, but that will also depend on other factors like weather or temperature.

Compost bins have large capacities – a good example is this one on Amazon – so they’re large enough to accommodate kitchen waste, and yard waste. But even though they can hold more waste, the materials used to make compost bins are typically not as durable as the ones used to make tumblers.

When faced with extreme conditions such as freezing or very warm weather, a compost bin’s materials can become more brittle and deteriorate. Still, compost bins are a good budget option if you want to avoid making your compost on the ground.

Compost tumbler

Compost tumblers are large containers on legs with one or multiple compartments when you can place your compost.

Unlike compost bins, compost tumblers make it really easy to aerate the compost. You simply have to use the attached handle to spin the entire container to effectively mix everything inside.

Some compost tumblers have wheels so that you can more easily dump out the compost at a location of your choice, but they’re not that common. Most compost tumblers are stationary, sit on tall legs, and come with a handle that can be turned to mix the compost. You don’t have to use a pitchfork to turn the compost, which means it’s less labor intensive than a regular compost bin or homemade pile.

However, it’s important to note that the more compost a tumbler contains, the more difficult it is to rotate the handle. Tumblers also have a very durable structure that should last years, regardless of the climatic conditions in your zone.

Because compost tumblers make it very easy to turn compost and aerate it, you’ll be able to create a usable batch of compost in a few weeks. Don’t fill it up too much, though, as it will be more difficult for the waste to decompose. When the time comes to empty it, you need to place the wheelbarrow beneath it, turn the drum so that the door is pointing down, and dump the compost on it.

Another good perk of having a compost tumbler is the fact they’re lifted off the ground and are completely sealed, which makes it impossible for rodents or other pests to get into your compost. Naturally, compost tumblers are more expensive than bins, but they’re worth the expensive when you measure the pros and cons.

Kitchen compost bin

A lot of times you’ll have people that want to compost but are taken aback by the fact they don’t have a big yard or garden to set up a composting system. However, that doesn’t have to be the case, even if you live in a tiny apartment. You should be able to compost your kitchen waste, regardless.

If you want to reduce your household waste while still being able to produce usable compost, you can set up a small compost bin in your kitchen. Some of them are small enough to fit on your countertop, under the sink, or in a pull-out drawer, which means they provide you with a safe place to get rid of your kitchen waste.

While the goal here isn’t to create compost from kitchen waste (given that you need more space and a wider combination of ingredients), it’s a great place to start. You can grab the content of the bin and deliver it to a larger compost area in your city. Other places that accept your waste are community gardens and farmer’s markets.

Worm compost bin

Besides being very easy to maintain, worm bins are an excellent way to produce high-quality compost that can benefit your soil and plants. Initially, put in the work to make sure everything works properly, but once you’re beyond that point, it takes very little effort to maintain.

You can place a worm bin outside or you can easily fit them into a basement or garage if you don’t have an outdoor space. A worm bin should have plenty of drainage to prevent the worms from drowning. This will allow you to produce worm tea, which you can use to fertilize your plants in a natural fashion.

A worm compost bin should be dark to simulate the worms’ natural environment, and it should also be properly ventilated for them to breathe. However, there is another reason why you should choose compost bin that is dark.

Choosing A Darker Compost Bin

Finding a dark-colored compost bin is easy.

The only exception is kitchen compost bins because they’re usually built to fit the aesthetics of kitchens (and they vary). But if you have to choose between a black or a white compost bin, you should go for the black one.

Having a dark compost bin allows your compost to retain heat more easily, since dark colors, especially black, absorb more heat. This is because they naturally absorb light from the surrounding environment. The closer a color is to black, the more heat it absorbs from light sources, which is why a dark compost bin is better for composting.

The composting process makes use of heat to break down organic matter, so the more heat you’re able to retain, the more active your compost can be. Naturally, there is a limit to how hot your compost can get before the microorganisms become endangered, but the general rule of thumb is that heat is good, especially during the winter.

A compost bin doesn’t have to be dark to create compost, but it helps if you are in a cold region and have trouble maintaining your compost’s warm temperature.