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DIY Compost bin

Updated on February 6, 2014

This is a great and inexpensive way to make your own compost bin. Anytime you do it yourself you save on money, and this will also help you save on equipment as well. A DIY compost bin both aids in the composting and also makes the general area nicer to look at. We used a basic garbage can with attachable lid (this will be important for later use). First take a drill and begin drilling about 1/3 to ½ inch holes about two inches below the top of the garbage can. Move about 6-8 inches horizontally and repeat until you have gone all the way around. After that move about the same distance down (6-8 inches), and repeat the process. The holes will help your new DIY compost bin have good airflow, which will help with the composting. When the entire garbage can is completely drilled then you can start adding the compost. I have two types of compost, and I layer them in about equal amounts throughout the bin.

All paper material is important when creating good compost.
All paper material is important when creating good compost.
Any plant material is great for composting.
Any plant material is great for composting.

Grey and Green Compost

Grey compost is anything that is paper like. You can use newspaper, junk mail, old bills or bank records. This is also a great way to prevent identity theft. Someone may be willing to go through your trash, but they would never think to go through your compost! If they want to dig in your compost bin, they are going to have to dig through several layers of decaying food products to find the bills. Shred the paper in about 1 inch wide strips and place them in the bin. When you have 1-2 inches of gray compost in your bin it is important to water the paper. It does not need to be too wet, and most of the excess water will end up draining out the holes, so don't be too worried about over watering. You want the gray compost to be like a damp sponge, after a couple of times it becomes easy to see how much water you need to add. Remember to mix up the shredded paper so that all the paper is equally wet, and since it is just paper, those who are squeamish don't have to worry about getting dirty. The next step is to add the green compost.

Green Compost is basically any plant or biodegradable material you have. This can be anything from weeds, grass clippings, leaves, or plant trimmings. This is what will give most of the nourishment to your garden. You can also add old fruit, egg shells, tea bags, and leftovers that have gone bad, so long as they do not have meat, fat, or if they have been cooked. Some people have put meat in their compost, but they do so in the very middle of the compost and not overly often. A good compost will degrade meat in a couple of weeks, but the smell could attract unwanted guests to your house depending on where you live (like dogs, raccoons, bears, or the like). Once you have added some green material to your DIY compost bin, you can add more grey, filling them in equal parts (about 4-6 inches high) until you are out of green material or the bin is full (don't worry about filling it all at once, we will fix that in a bit).

I make sure that the last section added is a well watered gray layer, this will help weigh everything down and make sure that your compost is properly watered. In a couple of days there will most likely be more room in your bin, as everything will settle and compact down. It is also helpful to take your compost bin and lay it on its side and roll it back and forth several times about once a week. This will help the composting and this is also why it is important that your garbage can turned DIY compost bin has an attachable lid. A compost bin needs water and air to really start the decomposing process. This is only a start to beginning composting, which is one of the great recycling methods for a garden, flower bed, or other planting areas in your yard. If you combine this with lasagna gardening, you can have a great garden with very little effort.


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    • Rev. Akins profile image

      Rev. Akins 5 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Nic- it really depends on the environment. We live in IL and it is pretty wet, so our compost, once it was full, was ready to be used in about 6 months. I have not emptied our current load out to start again, and it is certainly ready to be used after a year. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Nic 5 years ago

      How long after we fill it up to be able to use the compost? Thanks for the article.

    • Rev. Akins profile image

      Rev. Akins 6 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Pinkchic18- Glad I could help. We have been composting for over 2 years now, the only problem is we have to find more places to use the new good compost. Our can is full, but we have some great soil for plants. :)

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 6 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome hub, very helpful! My family started composting last year and so far we are still doing good. We've just been doing green composting but I'm going to start adding some gray to it now thanks to your tips!!

    • Rev. Akins profile image

      Rev. Akins 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Thanks so much! I will keep trying to figure out Hubpages, I learn something new every time I log on.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hey, we've been encouraging our staff to make a compost bin in our preschool...this is great! Thanks! Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination :) Do read the details right here on the forum post Read and vote, read and vote! Have a splendid time with the Hubnuggets :)