ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make a Composter on a Tight Budget - Green Tip #3

Updated on August 18, 2016

Homemade Composter

Holes for ventilation
Holes for ventilation | Source
Composter on it's perch
Composter on it's perch | Source
3/26/11 Day 1 Brown & Green Mat'l - no manure yet!
3/26/11 Day 1 Brown & Green Mat'l - no manure yet! | Source

Do you use compost?

See results

As a single mom of a (driving!) teenage son, as you may guess, I live on a tight budget. I also try to live as green as possible. I'd always been interested in composting, but couldn't afford to buy one (commercially available composters cost upwards of $100), nor do I own power tools or the engineering prowess to build one. Does this put me between a rock and a hard place? Absolutely not! Where there's a will (and some imagination!) there's a way!

I discovered a way to build my own composter for dirt cheap. Pun intended!

All you need is a plastic garbage can with a lid and a pointy poker tool. I used a wood file with a pointy tip (looks like an ice pick). I picked up a 32 gallon plastic garbage can on sale for $9.99. It has a locking lid and wheels, which makes it easy to maneuver. Once the compost is ready, simply wheel the can to the area in which you are planting; no need for a wheelbarrow! Pretty slick, huh?

To make your composter, take your poker tool and bore several holes, about 5-6" apart, down the length of the can and around the perimeter, from beneath the lid area to just before the base. The holes are necessary for ventilation, which allows air to move through the can, adding oxygen to the ingredients you'll incorporate in order to create your compost pile. The brand I purchased had little circular "stamps" imprinted at about the intervals I needed to make holes, so I took advantage of the pattern.

Once you've made your holes, you'll need to place the can above ground level so as to facilitate airflow. I placed mine on 2 layers of stone landscape border sections I wasn't using. Cinder blocks work just as well, if available.

Next, you want to layer brown material (newspaper, cardboard, coffee filters and junk mail - ah, yes, there's a good use for junk mail!) with green material (grass clippings, leaves, weeds, fruit and vegetable discards, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. - no meat or bones!). Wet the mixture just enough to resemble the consistency of a wrung out sponge. Moisture is necessary to promote decomposition. Mix well. I used a plastic coated stake folded in half. Worked wonders! You'll want to mix it up at least once a week, and after each addition of material. Another necessary ingredient is cow or horse manure. If you don't have cows or horses and don't know a cowboy, adding a bit of commercially available (through your local garden center) manure will work just as well. Note: never add domestic pet manure, as it can contain parasites. Manure is integral to the addition of nitrogen, which "heats" the mixture and further promotes decomposition and the introduction of "good" bacteria necessary to creating nutrient rich compost.

While this method takes about 6 months to produce ready-for-the-garden compost, I found placing a couple of old bathroom sized rugs on top of the lid helped build and maintain heat inside the can. Once the heat and humidity of summer set in, I removed the rugs and let Mother Nature do the rest.

All in all, it cost me $9.99, a little bit of elbow grease and patience to make my own composter! Stay tuned for an update!

Keep a smile in your heart and never, ever let the music fade!


Shauna L Bowling

All Rights Reserved


How to Make A Composter from a Trash Can

© 2011 Shauna L Bowling

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      23 months ago from Central Florida

      Glad you found this helpful, Peg. I used to have a friend who would bring me horse manure for my bin. We no longer work together, so I just buy Black Cow and use that.

      A local organic store near me told me that chicken poop is actually better for the compost bin. I bought some at one time, but it's too expensive for the quantity I received. If you've read any of Bill's (billybuc) hubs on urban farming, you know he swears by chicken poop.

      If you don't have access to chicken poop, use the Black Cow. You might also try Craig's List to see if any farmers near by will let you have some cow or horse manure for free.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      23 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Well, I went out and bought the commercial kind for a lot more than your investment. I never regretted having a composter, though, because it not only makes great soil to use in the garden, it reduces the amount of garbage and the odor that comes from fruit peelings, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags and etc. in the trash. Keeps my dogs from raiding the trash, too.

      Next time, I'll try your idea with the rolling plastic bin. Mine is quite similar to that, only cost more. I have my own drill so I'll use that when it comes time to bore the holes. Thanks for all the great information. Now, I need to find some cow manure for mine, which it's lacking.

      Pinned this to my crafty ideas board.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      You're welcome, Rebecca. It takes a bit of elbow grease, but it's cheap and it works.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks. I need to do this. Good directions, too.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, Nadine. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to have an organic garden. All it takes is a little imagination and some elbow grease.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Great tips for people with a small garden or patio!

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Awesome, Martie!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      I am saving this hub of yours in my personal library, Shauna. Going to make my own compost maker asap :)

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      And now you know how, Crafty! I swear I think I should be sending you a dividend check for checking out my little corner of HP. I'm so tickled that you are going thru my articles!

      Happy composting my crafty friend!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 

      5 years ago

      What a great idea! We do think alike Brave, we did the same thing here! LOL The town was offering compost bins at a whopping savings of just $60. I thought to myself, ok, well we have some very nice underused garbage cans out back, let me put my crafting skills to use.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Definitely try it! It works! It does, however take a while for the mixture to become usable compost. I started my garbage can composter about mid-February of this year. Make sure you stir it up at least once a week and make sure it's moist, but not wet, especially after each addition. Hint: once you reach a substantial level of materials, stop adding so the mix can begin the decomposition process without having to start over. You can always start another composter, or bag your ingredients for future use, when this batch has been depleted.

      I stirred mine up today (December 3rd) and was delighted to see earthworms in the mix! They will finish the job for me.

      Your comments to all my gardening posts has prompted me to post more! I actually began with HubPages as a "green tips" poster. I've since ventured into posting my poetry and short stories. It's nice to know the information I've offered has proven beneficial. I have many, many more green tips to post, all of which are geared towards saving the environment and keeping the "green" in your wallet. Being a single mom and homeowner equals things you need and/or want with money you don't have!

      Thanx for bringing me back to my original intent!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 

      6 years ago

      What a great idea. I have been wanting a composter too but we live on a very limited income so it has been just a wish. I will try this idea out.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)