THE MIDAS TOUCH
Composting takes kitchen and yard waste that would otherwise go to a landfill and turns it into economical organic fertilizer. Serious gardeners and eco-minded consumers lovingly refer to nutrient-rich compost as "black gold." Although it costs nothing to pile food scraps and coffee grounds in the backyard, many people live in urban areas or prefer to buy bins to contain odor, keep pests away, and speed up the slow decomposition process.
Most compost bins, regardless of design or size, incorporate both "green" matter (food scraps, grass and plant clippings) for nitrogen and "brown" matter (dried leaves, paper) for carbon. Kitchen compost bins are small, covered buckets that keep odors and bugs at bay until food waste can be emptied into a stationary or tumbling composter outside. Compost tumblers sit in a frame and allow frequent turning to aerate the contents, which helps them break down within about a month or so. Stationary compost bins sit directly on the ground and promise a large yield with little effort, although the compost takes longer to mature. You can turn the contents occasionally to speed decomposition, or just throw in organic matter and forget about it until the lowest level in the pile is ready to be shoveled out and used.
Cheapism.com dug through expert and user reviews to find the best composters for less than $150, and a few bonus models that offer something distinctive — such as worms to assist the microorganisms as they do their work.
Prices and availability may vary.