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How to make a low cost compost bin for your garden

Updated on May 25, 2010

Backyard composting

Backyard compost piles for yard waste
Backyard compost piles for yard waste

Composting stages

In stage 1, kitchen scraps and garden waste is still recognizeable. It is added to the compost pile
In stage 1, kitchen scraps and garden waste is still recognizeable. It is added to the compost pile
In stage 2, the material decays and becomes more brown
In stage 2, the material decays and becomes more brown
The compost is periodically turned to expedite decomposition. Here, the compost is ready for use
The compost is periodically turned to expedite decomposition. Here, the compost is ready for use

What is composting?

Composting is simply decomposing organic material in your back yard in a controlled manner. The organic material can come from a variety of sources:

  • Cut grass, leaves
  • Food waste (potato peels, etc)
  • wood chips
  • animal waste (cow, horse, rabbit, etc)
What not to put in your compost bin:
  • Meat products, as they smell when decomposing and attract animals
  • Bones in open composters, as they also smell and attract animals
  • Cloth, plastic

Best Compost uses a right mix of waste - part green, part brown and part food waste. Search for compost recipe for more information. Composting requires a bit of attention, as the compost bins have to be rotated. Compost is made over a one year period, but some materials require more time to decompose properly (ex: animal waste).

Bacteria, earth worms and centipedes all act as decomposers and help your compost become ready faster!

The design of the compost bin has a lot to do with how you are using compost and how often you need it. As a young kid, I've been exposed to a variety of composting methods that my grandma experimented with.She got really good with it and tried a variety of methods, including raised compost piles, worm composting and chemical assisted composting. We did not have many of the high tech innovations available today, so most of composting was done using good old fashioned wooden board boxes

Simple composters

Mesh compost bin for leaves and grass
Mesh compost bin for leaves and grass
Homemade compost bin from an old trash can
Homemade compost bin from an old trash can
Inside the home made composter
Inside the home made composter

Why composting?

With all the hype around composting, the question arises: why do that? The answer is simple - because this is the right thing to do! It keeps your household and yard waste out of landfills and helps promote the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle!

Compost offers several benefits - it is a natural organic soil enhancer (not a real fertilizer). It also allows you to keep a lot of your yard waste, such as grass, leaves, food waste out of landfills.

The good news are that composting is a rather simple activity, but it requires a bit of patience.

Inexpensive garbage can composter

This compost bin is used for household or garden waste. 

You will need:

  • An old garbage can with cover. This can be plastic or metal
  • A few pounds of sawdust, wood chips or small twigs
  • A cutting instrument - drill or a sharp knife (be careful!)
  • A shovel and work gloves to fill the bin when you are done

It is made out of an old garbage can with cover:

  1. Measure 5 inches from the base of the bin. 
  2. Start drilling holes (0.5 inch diameter) around the bin, keeping them 4-6 inches apart
  3. Create 3 rows of holes around the garbage can to allow for air flow
  4. Next, drill 5 holes in the base of the garbage can to allow for draining of excess moisture.
  5. Add 2-3 inches of sawdust, wood chips or twigs on the bottom to absorb excess moisture.
The compost bin is now ready! You can fill it with garden waste and food scraps! Compost bins have to periodically be turned. After about a year, your compost is ready!

Commercial Compost Bins

Rolling compost bin
Rolling compost bin

Commercially available composters

For hardcore composting enthusiasts, who do not wish to wait a couple years for their compost to be ready, there's a bunch of composting accessories being sold online. These produce higher quality compost in limited time. 

Comments

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    • profile image

      Tom 

      6 years ago

      Should the compost be put in a gardern at the end of the year or at the beginning. I have egg shells and othrtr items thay are not de composed yet.

      Thanks

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 

      8 years ago from Bay Area California

      Really great hub! I especially like the first example.

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Isaiah Michael 

      8 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      Excellent very good hub useful

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