Earth Machine Compost Bin Review

The Earth Machine compost bin is simple in design, but it sure does work. This article will provide you with a complete review of this compost bin, including some very useful tips and advice.

Whether you've been using an Earth Machine for years, or it's a new addition to your family, you're going to benefit from reading this review.

To start, we thought it would be helpful to evaluate the Earth Machine using the 10 criteria we use to assess all compost bins. These 10 criteria can be found on our best compost bin page. So, let's begin...

Earth Machine Compost Bin


10 Point Compost Bin Evaluation

1. Volume - FAIL

Ideally, a compost bin can handle a minimum of 27 cubic feet (or 1 cubic yard) of compost ingredients. The Earth Machine compost bin falls short in this area; only being able to handle a maximum of 10.5 cubic feet of waste. Therefore, the ingredients inside the Earth Machine will take longer to break down than those put into a larger compost pile, since piles smaller than 27 cubic feet lack adequate volume to generate high temperatures.

Note - High temperatures are not a necessary requirement for composting to occur; however, they do reduce the time it takes to make quality compost.

2. Rodent-Proof - PASS

The Earth Machine is almost 100% rodent proof. It comes with a very tight-fitting lid and plastic bolts to secure it to the ground.

We have heard the odd story of rodents digging underneath the Earth Machine to access it's contents, but we've never experienced this ourselves. If this does occur, we recommend placing a wire mesh (e.g. chicken wire) underneath your compost bin before setting it in place. The manufacturer's of the bin also sell a base which is intended for this very purpose.

3. Affordable - PASS

You can't beat FREE! We are fortunate enough that our municipality has a relationship with the producers of the Earth Machine (Norseman Environmental), so we received our bins at no cost. Well, we can't say that, we're sure the cost of the bins is buried somewhere in our taxes.

That being said, there are reports that the Earth Machine compost bin can range in cost from $30-$100 plus shipping. If you visit the official Earth Machine website, you'll see that they also offer various truckload sales throughout the year.

Overall, if you're going to have to pay more than $40 for your Earth Machine, save your money and use it to build your own compost bin.

4. Appearance - PASS

We find the appearance of the Earth Machine compost bin to be quite aesthetically-pleasing. It's black color, and small nature, allow it to blend into most setting in your yard.

5. Easy to Add New Ingredients - PASS

With it's large opening in the top, we have never had a problem adding new ingredients to our Earth Machines. Although, we tend to stick to the manufacturer's guidelines and only add kitchen scraps. We tend to limit the amount of yard waste we add to these bins (we have larger piles for these materials).

6. Ease of Turning - FAIL

This is probably one of the biggest drawbacks of the Earth Machine compost bin. It is difficult to turn/flip it's contents. The opening in the top is large enough to easily add new materials, but a real pain in the butt to try and access with a compost fork; however, we still manage to do it. We assume that this lack of maneuverability is why the manufacturer is now selling hand-held compost turners with their units.

There are other methods to turning this bin's contents, such as the lift and flip technique. This technique involves lifting the entire Earth Machine off of it's contents, and re-situating it nearby. Then you can shovel the contents of the pile back into the newly positioned bin, flipping them while you go. Sound like a lot of work? We think so.

Caution - If you're going to try turning your Earth Machine compost with a compost fork, please be careful of the lips around the bin's top rim. You can see these in the photos below. We've scraped our hands on these lips quite a few times, and it's quite painful.

Earth Machine compost bin lip

Earth Machine compost bin lip close up

7. Made of Recyclable Materials - PASS

The Earth Machine compost bin is made with a minimum 50% post-consumer recycled materials.

Ideally, the Earth Machine would be made of 100% post-consume recycled materials; however, in order for the product to be somewhat rigid, we think it needs some new materials. If we're wrong in our thinking, please send us your comments or write to us using the form below.

8. Expandable - PASS

One of the great things about the Earth Machine compost bin is that it's expandable. That is, if you need more composting bin (i.e. more room for your composting materials), just add one or two more bins to your system. It's that easy.

9. Promotes Air Circulation - PASS

Aside from the difficulty in turning the bin's contents, the Earth Machine does come with adequate ventilation. As you can see by the pictures below, there is ventilation in near the lid of the bin as well as along the sides.

Earth Machine compost bin lid vent

Earth Machine compost bin side vent

10. Calls for Use - PASS

The final criteria we use to judge a compost bin is whether or not it calls you to use it. We believe this criteria hinges on the compost bin's location. Is the bin nice enough that it be situated near your living quarters? If so, you're much more likely to use it.

As for the Earth Machine compost bin, we believe it passes this test with flying colors. Due to it's pleasing aesthetics and compact design, it fits quite nicely near any house or garden shed.

Here is a great story about one of our Tribe members and how she turned two Earth Machines into super-productive worm composting bins.

Our Conclusion

Overall, the Earth Machine satisfies 8 of our 10 criteria used to evaluate compost bins. That's pretty darn good. So whether you're an avid composter, or just starting out, we believe this compost bin will help meet your composting needs.

Additional Earth Machine Benefits

The following is a list of additional benefits provided by the Earth Machine that weren't listed in the 10-points above.

Earth Machine compost bin finished compost
  • It's collapsible, so it fits into a small car (we used our little Honda Civic).
  • It's black color attracts sunlight, adding to the heating of the bin's contents.
  • It comes with a "Home Composting Handbook", which explains the basics of composting (in case you aren't near an internet connection to access our site).
  • It does such a great job of keeping out water, that you'll want to make sure you monitor the moisture levels of your composting ingredients (use the hand-squeeze test).
  • It WORKS! (see image on right)
  • The Earth Machine compost bin main website has some simple composting for kids exercises. You've gotta start those compost junkies at a young age!

Tips For Using Your Earth Machine

The following is a list of helpful tips that will make your Earth Machine composting experience a lot more enjoyable and efficient.

  • Avoid putting sticks and branches into your Earth Machine, unless they are first put through a compost grinder, or you're willing to wait several years for them to decompose.
  • As you build your layers within your Earth Machine, be sure to add some garden soil or finished compost. Try to order it so that you add a layer of greens, followed by browns, and then a layer of garden soil, then repeat. The soil and compost will help minimize odors as well as inoculate your bin with beneficial microbes. If you'd like to get even more sophisticated, try adding half a cup of Recharge (our new compost remineralizer)
  • If you can afford them, buy two or three Earth Machine compost bins and treat them as you would a three-bin composter system. For more information on this type of system, please see our Best Compost Bin page.
  • When your compost is finished, don't try to use the tiny little door on the Earth Machine to remove it; instead, unscrew the base and lift the entire unit off of your finished pile. Now your pile is accessible from all sides and you can sift your compost to your heart's delight.



What Other Visitors Have Said

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Composting Grass Clippings 
I recently loaded my compost bin with 8 bags of grass clippings, and now it really stinks. Is there something I can do to reduce this odor? I thought composting …