Best Compost Products
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your garden is to make your own compost and apply an inch or two-layer to the top of your garden every year. This should cover all the fertilizer needs for your garden for the entire year and the best thing of all, all the organic material you collect to make the compost can be free!!
You can make your own compost bins as I did. As you can see in the picture, I used 7 pallets to make 2 compost bins that are side by side. A handy trick is to use these reusable zip ties to attach them together instead of trying to use nails and screws.
You could also use galvanized chicken wire to make some cylinder containers to hold your compost. Or you could make your own
A wheelbarrow and garden fork are other tools that are essential for helping me to collect material, turn the compost, and distribute the compost to my garden beds.
I collect a TON of leaves in the fall to fill up my compost bins. One way I do this is to have a landscaping company dump leaves off at my house for free. A tarp like this one really help with this because we can unload the leaves on to the tarp and then drag them back to my compost bin. A tarp can also be handy to cover up your finished compost or a garden bed in the winter.
If you don’t have enough space for a large compost bin/pile, it is perfectly fine to use a compost tumbler. I used to use this compost tumbler at my old house when I didn’t have as much space for a full compost bin. I found it very easy to create compost quickly and I love that this tumbler has dual sections so you can have compost on one side that is close to finishing while the other side you can be adding new material.
Checking the temperature of your compost pile is an important part of keeping your compost hot and active. This gives you compost in the fastest amount of time possible! This is the compost thermometer that I use. You can read more about maintaining a hot compost pile in our article When Should I Turn My Compost Pile.
Vermicomposting (Worm Castings)
Another way to compost for virtually free is to use make your own worm castings. Worm castings are essentially worm poop and are considered to be black gold for gardeners.
If interested, there are only a few cheap materials you need to get started. Some type of container to hold the material. See the picture below to get an idea of what my worm bin looks like.
This is actually two totes, one inside of the other. The inner tote has holes in the bottom to allow for any excess drainage if your worm bedding gets too wet. You can find totes like this at Walmart or any similar store you have locally. Just make sure the tote is not clear.
I bought my worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.
I add bedding material such as dried leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, shredded paper, cardboard, and peat moss. This should all be dampened a bit when you start. When I add food scraps, I always blend them up first but you don’t have to. Blending them will help the worms to digest the food faster. Also note that I use this bin indoors in my basement and I’ve never had issues with bugs or anything like that.
I plan on writing up a full article on starting a worm bin and also harvesting the worm castings which I post a link to here.
If you don’t want to mess with making your own worm bin, there are ones you can buy. I have not used these myself, but there are two worm bins that I have come across in my research that seem to be the most popular. These are the Worm Factory 360 and Hungry Bin Flow-Through Worm Farm.
Earthwise GS70015 15-Amp Garden Corded Electric Chipper/Shredder, Collection Bin (Amazon Link)
The Earthwise GS70015 Electric Chipper/Shredder is our top choice based on our research and looking through user feedback. This has a standard 15 amp motor which should give plenty of power for what this tool is designed for.
We also like the fact that it has a nice collection bin underneath the tool. This eliminates the need for a bag or raking up the mulch afterward.
Sun Joe CJ602E 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder (Amazon Link)
The Sun Joe CJ602E Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder is our second best choice. This tool also has the same standard 15 amp motor which should plow through most leaves, twigs, and other small garden waste.
This shredder is cheaper than our top option but it also does not have a bag or collection bin, so keep that in mind when deciding what to purchase based on your needs.