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NatureMill Indoor Composter Review

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | April 13, 2010

naturemill indoor composter reviewBack in 2008, I wrote a blog post discussing four different ways to compost indoors, and mentioned the NatureMill indoor composter as my favorite dream method of composting. I then wrote another post wondering if the NatureMill was really all that, because I had read conflicting reports about the machines and was wondering if it was worth the investment.  I was then contacted by the generous folks over at NatureMill and offered a review unit to test out, which I gladly accepted!  And so, my friends, here is my review of the NatureMill Pro XE.

Let’s cut to the chase:  I love this thing.

Up until now, my “composting” has consisted of saving kitchen scraps in the freezer, then schlepping those frozen bags to the Greenmarket in order to have a community organization compost them for me.  And now– now I am creating rich black healthy compost right in my own kitchen!  Me!  It’s very exciting, and very easy.

My current method is to collect food scraps in a container in the fridge, and when that container gets full– it holds approximately 5 cups worth of scraps– I dump those into the NatureMill and let it do its thing.  Every four hours the unit churns the scraps, mixing them with previously dumped material which has already begun the composting process.  I wait a few days, collect more scraps, and then add those to the bin.

Now, one thing that’s kind of annoying is that, in order to keep the correct balance of greens, browns, and acids, it’s necessary to add one cup of sawdust/sawdust pellets and one tablespoon of baking soda for each 5 cups of food scraps.  Baking soda, not a big deal, and cheap enough to keep around.  But sawdust?  Sawdust pellets?  I live in Brooklyn, and don’t really know a source for free sawdust.  I wish I had a woodpile out back, or a lumbermill down the way, but I don’t.  I’ll do some investigating and see what I can turn up– maybe there’s some free source for sawdust around here I’m not familiar with– and worst comes to worst I’ll just buy some online and have it shipped, I guess.   The unit does come with one box of baking soda and two bags of sawdust pellets to get you started.

After the bin gets full and the food scraps have been composted/are no longer recognizable, I push a button and it all gets and transferred down into the “curing tray.”  At this point the compost needs to “cure” for several weeks to a month, and until it does it’s not ready to be used on plants or in a garden.  This is slightly difficult when living in an apartment, without an outdoor space. The directions say: “To cure your compost, just leave it in a pile in the corner of your lawn or garden for several days or weeks. A warm, breezy location is ideal.” I sure wish I had a warm, breezy location, for many reasons, the least of which is for curing compost! They do say that it’s ok to cure the compost in a bucket with drain holes if need be, and this is probably the method I’ll be using but I’m still not sure where to keep that bucket o’ dirt while it finishes cooking…

The thing is, this machine is kind of magic.  In go my chopped-up food scraps, coffee grounds, and plant cuttings,  and out comes moist rich earthy soil. And there’s no odor along the way or worms to take care of/try to not kill.

The unit uses 10 watts of power, or about $.50 worth of energy per month, and has the capacity to handle up to 5 pounds of food waste per day– which is far more than I dump into it.  It also has an “energy save” mode, which will reduce energy use up to 75% while you’re out of town, or just not cooking for a while. It also has “heavy-duty” mode which is intended for “heavy duty loads”… which I’m not at all clear about. What’s considered a heavy-duty load? A whole watermelon?

Is the NatureMill perfect?  No, but to my mind it’s pretty close. Here’s my overview:

Pros:

Cons:

Here’s a video with the founder of NatureMill, Russ Cohn:

** Update 25/10: According to Russ Cohn, the new models will be about 50% quieter, due to new gear engineering– great news! **

So, what’s your composting story? Do you have a NatureMill– if so, what are your thoughts? Do you engage in other methods of composting? What are your compost dreams?

Topics: Food, General, Home | 23 Comments »

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23 Comments

Pingback by What’s Going On
2010-04-13 09:03:52

[...] Tiny Choices reviews the Naturemill indoor composter. [...]

 
2010-04-13 11:07:12

i used to live on the same block as a woodworker in brooklyn. he’d throw out multiple giant bags of sawdust every week which i’d sadly notice and wonder if they could use some better purpose than heading to a landfill. you should try to see if there are any woodworkers in your neighborhood?

 
Comment by Virginia
2010-04-13 15:22:35

What about the wood shavings used for pet bedding?

Comment by swimmer
2010-06-10 19:55:21

yes you can use wood shaving I think. They supply you with sawdust pellets. And they tell you how to get more sawdust free which can’t be beat! It is of course important to balance the compost as you would with anyprocesss.

 
 
Comment by adirondax
2010-04-14 16:28:41

We’ve had one of these nature mill compost bins for about a year. It is a very reliable way to make compost in a few days and you don’t have to walk back and forth to the compost pile which is a pain when you are in the middle of making dinner or expecting guests. I can not imaging going back to my old compost pile which is now reminiscent of a toxic waste dump full of fruit flies in the corner of our garden. Our NatureMill is a little noisy too, but no more than our refrigerator.

 
Comment by adirondax
2010-04-14 16:30:34

One other thing – the pellets are very important as the author points out. You can get them in most hardware stores or you can buy them from NatureMill directly and they include coupons in the box for free supplies. Any compost has to be balanced, and with this machine it is a little easier because of the size and speed.

 
Comment by plaucity
2010-04-15 20:11:45

I love my Nature Mill! Had it for about 6 months. Got it as a gift from my son. It makes a little grr sound when it’s grinding but otherwise we hardly notice it. It is so cool! You get compost in a few days although they say to leave it in the machine for up to 2 weeks to let it ‘cure’ whatever that is. You can keep adding new scraps all the while. It basically looks like dirt, and kind of smells like it too.

Yes we were a little concerned about the energy it uses and is that really a green option. But we have not noticed our energy bills going up at all and they say it only uses 5 watts which is not much at all.

Best of all, no more trash! We recycle so much and now with the composter going there is like nothing left for our trash man.

Comment by swimmer
2010-06-10 19:56:19

That is so coo! Your son is very hip! Did you know, you can also get some discount from your trash company if you compost enough to get a smaller bin each week.

 
 
Comment by Condo Blues
2010-04-15 21:36:14

I want a NatureMill composter but I’m not going to buy one until I get at least one successful batch of compost from my homemade composter. My problem is that we don’t have enough ‘browns’ to add to the mix. I’m working on that with our current compost situation.

I contacted NatureMill and asked them if I could use wood shavings that are used for hamster bedding. They said that you could but you’d have to adjust the amounts by playing with them. They also said that the wood pellets they sell/provide are the type people buy at home improvement stores to burn in pellet stoves.

 
2010-04-20 06:01:08

[...] NatureMill Indoor Composter Review [...]

 
2010-04-20 18:13:33

[...] April 20, 2010 · Filed under Composting, compost bin Back in 2008, Jenn Sturiale over at Tiny Choices wrote a blog post discussing four different ways to compost indoors, and mentioned the NatureMill indoor automatic compost bin as her favorite method of composting.   She then wrote another post wondering if the NatureMill was really all that, because she had read conflicting reports about the machines and was wondering if it was worth the investment.  She was then got a hold of the NatureMill automatic compost bin to test out.  After using the compost bin for several months, Jenn has recently published her review of the NatureMill Pro XE.  Tor read the full review on Tiny Choices, visit NatureMill Indoor Composter Review. [...]

 
2010-04-20 18:16:04

[...] April 20, 2010 · Filed under Composting, compost bin Back in 2008, Jenn Sturiale over at Tiny Choices wrote a blog post discussing four different ways to compost indoors, and mentioned the NatureMill indoor automatic compost bin as her favorite method of composting.   She then wrote another post wondering if the NatureMill was really all that, because she had read conflicting reports about the machines and was wondering if it was worth the investment.  She was then got a hold of the NatureMill automatic compost bin to test out.  After using the compost bin for several months, Jenn has recently published her review of the NatureMill Pro XE.  Tor read the full review on Tiny Choices, visit NatureMill Indoor Composter Review. [...]

 
Comment by JW
2010-04-21 23:24:01

Would something like “Feline Pine” be an alternative that doesn’t require buying online? http://www.felinepine.com/

 
Comment by 506
2010-05-14 18:38:55

Would shredded newspaper work?

 
2010-05-27 12:59:58

[...] disclosure: I received a Naturemill XE unit to review, and am completely in love with it. I had been wondering for years if this machine was worth the [...]

 
2010-05-27 13:06:50

[...] disclosure: I received a Naturemill XE unit to review, and am completely in love with it. I had been wondering for years if this machine was worth the [...]

 
Comment by Linda
2010-05-28 16:52:23

Have you tried traditional brown materials, such as newspaper or leaves (though I know you may not have leaves in Brooklyn)?
Thanks,
Linda

 
Comment by swimmer
2010-06-10 19:54:20

Love it. The automatic compoeter really works well. I have been using it continuously for about a year. Mine is very quite. It is so simple to use. The instructions are a bit much and it takes some time get through them but it is all as promised.

 
Comment by ron laflamme
2010-06-14 11:06:59

what about going to a home store like Home Depot and get wood shavings? they cut a lot of wood and have vaccumms to collect it.

 
Comment by anthony frins
2010-08-28 19:07:58

This seems like a great way to help the planet. We have one at work and honestly we don’t have enough food going on to really use it to its fullest. It is meant for a family who will use it every day. But it seems to work just fine even for us and it feels good to be helpign the family.

 
Comment by Matt Speer
2010-10-23 05:47:15

I was thinking the same thing Ron Laflamme was thinking, for saw dust check with local home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot etc. The custom cut wood all day. Another place to look for wood pellets is fireplace and stove stores. Many sell large bags 25lbs- 50lbs bags for pellet burning stoves.
Instead of saw dust can you use chipboard? like toilet paper or paper towel rolls (best because no ink like on 12 pack soda boxes). I compost outside and have read that chipboard is one great way to get your brown products and your not buying something extra then.
Or can you use shredded paper? another great thing to add to outdoor compost.
and Dear Natural Mills I would love to product test one too using these ideas if you would like to hear back. haha

 
Comment by Bryan
2010-11-10 15:00:26

Instead of trying to hunt down wood/saw dust pellets just use the dried out organic compost the Natural Mill produces! For every 5 cups of table scraps, use one cup of the completely dried out compost produced.

 
Comment by Jeff
2011-01-16 15:34:28

I don’t know if this helps, I live in the midwest and can get 40lb bags of pellets for under $5. in 4 or 5 places. 1 bag would last a year. Try looking for pellets at a farm/home store, or get a friend or relative who may visit from out of town to bring you a bag. You spend more in shipping then the pellets cost. The pellets don’t make a mess like sawdust.

 

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