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Backyard Composter (The Earth Machine)

Making your very own nutrient-rich compost is easy to do! It’s a great way to turn kitchen waste and yard waste into an excellent soil conditioner. All you need is a backyard composter.

The model of Backyard Composter the EWSWA makes the affordable “Earth Machine” available at local Home Hardwares for residents to buy for $35.00 plus tax. Call your local Home Hardware first to confirm availability.

Occasionally, the EWSWA will have a sale on backyard composters. The best way to learn about any sales or discounts is to subscribe to EWSWA’s eNewsletter

Food and Compost inside a Backyard Composter

Setting Up Your Backyard Composter

Pick a flat, sunny location if possible. Do not place your composter on concrete. The composter needs to be on the ground to work properly. The Earth Machine has four main parts: a base, a top, a lid, and a door. It should also come with a manual and four large plastic screws to secure it to the ground.

You will also need a kitchen catcher. A kitchen catcher can be a bucket, pail, or even an empty ice cream container. Place fruit and vegetable scraps in your kitchen catcher. When it is full, take it out to the backyard composter. 

What Goes in The Backyard Composter?

  • Fruit Scraps (e.g. orange peels, banana peels, watermelon rinds)
  • Vegetable Scraps (e.g. potato peels, celery, carrots, etc.)
  • Garden waste (e.g. dead flowers, dead plants, etc.)
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters
  • Tea Bags
  • Egg Shells
  • Dryer Lint
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Dry grass
  • Small Twigs

Troubleshooting FAQS

The process of materials breaking down in your composter is called decomposition. Think of a composter as a living organism, so it requires food, water and air to work. Maintaining the proper balance between food, water and air is important. It will help break down the materials in the composter faster.

  • Have a 50/50 ratio between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ materials. Wet materials are items like fruit and vegetable scraps. Dry materials are items like leaves and twigs.
  • Make sure the materials in your composter are moist, like a wrung-out sponge.
  • Give the materials in the composter a stir every other month in the spring and summer. The stirring will add oxygen which is necessary for the decomposition process.

The backyard composter should produce compost in about a year. The compost will look like black, moist soil and will be rich in nutrients. You can use it on your lawn, gardens, houseplants and landscaping.

You can compost year-round. The composting process slows down in the winter; but the centre of a compost pile works, even in the coldest months.

Check to see if your composter is moist and if it has both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ materials in it. If you have too many ‘wet’ materials or too many ‘dry’ materials, the decomposition process can stall. If the materials inside are very dry, place a hose inside and give the composter some water. The contents of a composter can dry out in the heat of the summer.

Don’t worry, bugs are supposed to be in your composter. Earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, and other critters are all part of the decomposition process. They play a valuable role in composting.

Storms can ‘overwater’ the contents of your composter. If this happens, take a newspaper and tear it up into long strips. Put the shredded newspaper in your composter. This will help absorb some of the excess moisture.

Take a hose and add some water. Once the contents are moist, stir everything as you will need to get some air into the materials. You can use a pitchfork, shovel or a hockey stick to stir the pile, as this will help.


There are many styles and sizes of backyard composters available online. You can build your own backyard composter if you’re handy. Check the internet for many great resources and ‘how-to’ videos on composting. Below are some examples for your perusal:

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Food and Compost inside a Backyard Composter
Inside a Composter

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