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The history books have it wrong. The oldest profession in the world is actually gardening. People have been cultivating or caring for plants and yards as far back as we can see. If this tells me anything, it’s that you don’t need any fancy tools or materials to do it. However, there are circumstances when having the right tool for a situation can make everything much smoother.
If you live in a place without several acres of land to set up large compost piles, a compost bin is one of those tools.
I have been using Algreen’s Soil Saver Compost Bin for more than a year now and felt like I should finally write out this review so you can see if it’s the right option for you.
Long story short, I think it’s the best compost bin on the market. Why? Well, let’s get into it…
My history with composters
When I first started composting I was stuck on the idea of needing a fancy system. I looked at tumblers, bins, pallet set-ups, etc. In the end, I had paralysis of analysis and didn’t do anything for a whole year. The next spring I simply put a large cardboard box outside and started filling it with my composting material. While it wasn’t ideal, it worked.
Since then I have used a couple of different tumblers (mainly for review purposes since tumblers come with many disadvantages), a couple of different bins, and a traditional pile. Since I get asked pretty often which composting bin is best for beginners, I thought I’d sit down, look at what I’ve owned and see what I’d recommend. It was actually pretty easy. I recommend the one that I own and use: Algreen Products Soil Saver Classic Compost Bin.
Why I Chose the Algreen Soil Saver to Begin With
Most of my gardening tools I purchased because I have a family member or friend that recommended them to me. This case was a little different. I sat down and spent several hours looking at all the composting bin options I could find, comparing their specs, reading reviews, and thinking about how much I really wanted to spend. I guess you could say it was some sort of miracle that I ended up with such a good compost bin. However, seeing as how it’s one of the top-rated and best selling compost bins on the internet it might not be so amazing after all.
So let’s talk about the features and specs that won me over.
Extra Large Capacity
If you want to make compost fast then pile size is the name of the game. Your pile has to reach a “critical mass” before it can start generating its own heat and really take off. Most people think you need about 1 cubic yard of material before you have enough matter and insulation to make progress. This may be true with a freestanding pile but, in a bin, your compost is able to get warmer and hold in heat so you need less material to hit the same temperatures. With that being said, most bins and tumblers are far too small to handle the waster produced in a normal house/yard, let alone do it well. Algreen’s Soil Saver was my choice in this regard because of its large capacity. Instead of have three different piles or buying a huge tumbler (large tumblers are expensive) I was able to get a soil saver (now two soil savers actually) and rest assured that I had sufficient space.
It’s made in Canada our of BPA Free Recycled/Recyclable Material
While it doesn’t really matter all that much to me where a product is made, I do prefer to support actual companies rather than people who simply import generic products and slap their brand on it.
Algreen Products family company that was founded in 1994 and provides a wide array of gardening supplies. They specialize in using recycled materials and creating products that can, in turn, be recycled.
The wall material on the bin is .2″ thick which feels much thicker and more sturdy than it sounds. While I wouldn’t trust it to keep out a hungry bear my kids have climbed all over it with not problems.
Latchable Tops and Dual Doors
Speaking of keeping out bears, my neighbors have a cat that must weigh 30 pounds. He is a huge walking ball of muscle with no tail. When we moved in his owners actually warned us against leaving anything edible outside because, no matter what it is, he will consume it. I’ve seen him walking around on the top of our Algreen Composting Bin a couple of times but it has done a great job of keeping out pests.
The top of the bin has two doors which latch shut. While it’s relatively easy for a kid to open it, no animal is going to manage it. Or wind for that matter. The lids have stayed put in crazy wind gusts and have kept drenching rain from getting our compost overly wet.
To get your compost out there are two bottom doors. You simply open them up and shovel out your finished product. This is probably the biggest weakness of a bin. Shoveling out the compost isn’t an easy task but it’s made much easier by having two access doors.
- There are air slots and holes throughout the bin to keep your compost from going anaerobic and/or getting too wet.
- You get a helpful booklet with your bin that walks you through its use and the making of compost
- The bin is backed by a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty. If something goes wrong, just let them know!
- The open-bottom design allows worms to flourish in the bin and escape into the ground when it gets too cold/hot
All things considered, the Soil Savers does what every other composting bin claims to do, it just does it a bit better, a bit easier, and for longer. It is the sturdiest and most well thought out bin I have used, especially in its price range! So if you’re in the market, get one (or more) today!
My Thoughts After a Year of Use
I don’t like rushing into making recommendations to people. When I got Algreen’s Classic Soil Saver compost bin I thought it was great, but things aren’t great just because they feel high quality. It might have a weak point which means it dies after a single season. However, after having and using it for a year, writing this review seemed to be the only logical outcome.
So here are my thoughts and a few tips for you if you decide to buy one:
First off, there something I didn’t do that I wish I had. Take my advice and don’t use the hardware that comes with the kit. Once you get your bin, head down to the local hardware store and get some replacements that are made of galvanized steel. They will be much strong and won’t rust.
Secondly, get two. Or not. Just be aware that if you have a large yard or a big family you’ll fill one of these up in pretty short order. During the summer months when things are hot outside and our compost is composting like crazy we could make do with one. However, when we have large amounts of yard waste in the fall and our composting slows down (or stops during the winter) we find we need the space of two.
To wrap up my Algreen Soil Saver Compost Bin Review let me just say that you won’t do better on the market. Composting and running this blog represent a huge portion of my life and I have yet to see a better composting bin. This one is used by thousands of people, schools, businesses, etc.
Save yourself the trouble of looking and get yourself one or more today!
The advantages of a bin over a pile or tumbler
Even though this is the best compost bin, maybe you’re on the fence about whether you want a bin, tumbler or a pile. Well, a bin has several advantages over either. Namely:
- A bin holds heat. Heat expedites decomposition and that’s the name of the game in composting. A bin can reach “critical mass” with less material than a pile simply because it’s insulated and attracts heat from the sun.
- Bins have less smell and attract fewer pests. Keeping everything contained means that you will smell your compost less and so will the local rats/raccoons/etc.
- Bins are attractive. Our backyard isn’t fenced and, knowing our neighbors, they would complain in about 5 seconds if they looked out and could see an open compost pile. In many places, it’s actually against city ordinances to have an open compost pile, and using a bin is a great way around this.
- You can compost with no pauses. The main drawback to using a tumbler is that all of your old compost that may be nearly finished is mixed with your new scraps. This means that you either have to stop adding new materials and just throw them away while your compost finishes or you have to have multiple tumblers. With a bin, you can simply add material on the top and take it out of the bottom in a continuous cycle.
I firmly believe that a bin is the best option for most people. If you have no land or yard, go with a tumbler. If you have lots of land and space, go with open piles. Otherwise, heed my review of Algreen’s bin and get yourself one! Happy composting!