Continuous vs batch composting

Any composter or compost pile can be used for continuous or batch composting or a mix of the two methods. When a continuous composter fills up, it is often converted into a batch composter. As the ingredients compact down, the compost can be left alone (batch composting) or new ingredients can be added as space permits (continuous composting)

Continuous composting

Continuous composting is a technique that works best if you have a steady stream of new material to work with. If you’re composting the scraps from your household, this is probably the system you’ll want to use. You can start with a small amount of compost and a handful of soil (or compost starter). Then, as you get extra ingredients, just add them to the mix. The compost will blend together fresh ingredients will blend with more mature compost that’s at an advanced stage of decomposition.

As your compost bin starts to fill up, you’ll just want to stop adding to it for the last few weeks while you keep mixing up the materials so that the newest materials can finish breaking down too. Alternatively, you can sift out the unfinished materials with a compost screen, and throw them back into the pile or the bin to finish up.

Batch composting

The other method is called batch composting. If you have a large amount of organic waste (such as a pile of leaves or several bags of yard clippings) it can be enough to fill up your entire compost bin all at once. As the compost decomposes, this pile of compost will gradually shrink. Finished compost often takes up about 30 to 50 percent less space space than the original ingredients. It can be tempting to add additional materials to the batch as it starts to shrink and turn into compost, but if you add additional waste, the entire pile of compost will take longer to finish.

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