DIY Composting Bin DIY Composting Bin

What You'll Need

With dump sites filling up quickly, a compost bin is a great way to dispose of waste in a way that helps our planet. Not only will it save space in landfills, but also over time the compost creates a rich soil that you can use in a garden or just put out in the yard to return nutrients to the earth. Compost bins are not difficult to make yourself and are quite affordable as well.

Trash Can Compost Bin

What you will need:
  • A large trash can of your choice with a lid; an inexpensive one will work just fine
  • An electric or cordless drill with a bit
  • One or two bungee cords

Once you have your trash can, you can easily turn it into a compost bin. Take your drill and create some small holes all over the sides and bottom of the trash can. You need the holes to create ventilation in the can. At this point, your trash can is ready to put compost items inside. You need to keep the lid on when you are letting the compost sit, and use the bungee cords to secure the lid.

Storage Bin Compost Bin

What you will need:
  • A large storage bin with a lid that can hold at least 3 cubic feet of material
  • An electric or cordless drill with a bit
  • One or two bungee cords if your lid doesn’t snap into place

You don’t have to go out and buy a bin if you have one around your house you aren’t using. The reason you want the bin to be at least 3 cubic feet is because you want it to hold enough compost that it can generate heat when the material starts to decompose. Drill small holes in the bottom, sides, and lid of the bin and it will be ready to go. If your lid does not secure very well, use bungee cords to keep the lid in place.

How to Use Your Compost Bin

No matter which container you selected above, they both will work the same. There is quite a wide variety of items you can put inside your compost containers, some from your yard and some food items. There are even compost recipes you can follow.

Yard Waste

Yard waste makes the perfect compost. Start collecting all your yard waste - leaves, grass clippings, and tree trimmings - as you clean up around the yard. The key to having compost that doesn’t end up smelling horrible is to have a mixture of both brown and green materials. Brown material includes wood chips or dried up leaves, and green material include grass clippings and food items. You can even add shredded paper to offset the material if you only have mostly greens.

Food Waste

You can compost a variety of food waste items. Anything that is a vegetable or a fruit can be tossed into your compost pile such as banana peels, melon rinds, or corn cobs. You can also compost egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, grains, and old bread. Do not put any meats, dairy, or animal feces into your compost.

Caring for Your Compost

As you add your yard and food waste to your compost bin, add a small amount of water to moisten all the materials just slightly. With your lid secure, roll or tumble your container around a few times so that your compost items mix up and the water disperses. Your compost will get better air circulation if you place it on top of some large gravel or bricks so that the air flow can get in from the bottom.

As your materials start to decompose, you’ll want to shake up the ingredients once or twice a week by rolling the container around again. If your compost starts to dry out, add a small amount of water, but remember that you only want the compost to be slightly damp. You can add more waste to the compost whenever you want.

After about four weeks, some of your compost may be ready to use. Use a large mesh screen or some chicken wire if you want to sift through the compost for soil particles. Chop up larger clumps and return them to the compost container to further decompose. Heat helps the materials turn to compost, so during the warmer months you will have better success.

For smaller scale composting, check out indoor vermi-composting.

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