Four essentials for composting outdoors

My, how the worm has turned.

soil with plants growing
Convert browns, greens, and water into rich compost.Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Anyone can compost outdoors by making a pile surrounded by wood or wire, using a composter, or starting a worm farm to feast on your food scraps. Over a period of months to years, cultivate a mix of browns from your yard (like dead leaves and twigs), water, and greens (like food waste and coffee grounds). You’ll lower your carbon footprint, and create organic fertilizer that helps plants thrive. Here are our top picks to get you started.

Lotech Products Compost Crank Twist Compost Aerator
Turn your compost with ease.Amazon

A little engagement with your compost pile goes a long way toward efficient decomposition. This stainless steel tool has a worm-like squiggle at the bottom that allows you to twist it like a corkscrew to mix and aerate your pile. It’s 32 inches long and effective up to a depth of 29 inches, and it even works in tangled materials like vines. For people who don’t relish the idea of digging in the dirt, it offers a way to keep hands comfortably away from last month’s banana peels.

Envirocycle Composter
Colorful alternative to regular storage containers.Amazon

This great composer has the added benefit of coming in a shocking shade of pink, you can get the same green benefits without sacrificing style. (Of course, it also comes in the regular black-ish compost bin color.) Anyway, your compost materials go in the top of the drum, and you can turn the drum easily to aerate and mix. It’s available in a 17-gallon or 35-gallon size, and it also comes in black if you prefer a less conspicuous look. Fans of watering plants with compost tea (water steeped in compost) will be delighted that the base is designed to collect it for you.

Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin
Enrich the soil through vermiculture.Amazon

Behold this perfect worm hotel where Red Wigglers provide you with rich compost and worm tea (nom nom) in exchange for delicious food and a place to rest their segments. It’s made from a series of four stacking trays (with a worm ladder for ease of travel) and can be expanded with up to four additional trays as needed. This bin comes with a hand rake, thermometer, and scraper, as well as access to detailed digital instructions. Welcome your worms (sold separately) with fresh bedding (really, just not what we think of as bedding) and wait for the five-star Yelp reviews to start crawling in.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm 1,000 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms
Just a whole lot of worms.Amazon

Your trash is a Red Wiggler worm’s treasure. This species of earthworm is epigean and thrives on the surface of soil, not in it. That means they’ll love your rotting vegetables and other decaying matter. If you have a Worm Factory 360 or other vermicomposter, this batch of one thousand creepy crawlies is a good start. As Uncle Jim’s notes, “they reproduce...so you’ll have 2,000 in no time”. They’re guaranteed to arrive live and mite and insect free. What a great composting partner.