An EASY Composting Tutorial

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I am so happy to share with you today, my Simple Easy No Work DIY Composting method!

This system is perfect for those who are just beginning with composting. Before using this system, the composting just wasn’t happening on our homestead, because I was not turning the pile enough.

This system involves no turning of the pile, that is why it is so easy! Once you get the hang of it, you will always have loads of compost at the ready.

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Equipment Needed for the DIY Composting Bin

A heavy duty plastic garbage can with lid, drill, 1/4″ drill bit and bungee cord. Or three garbage cans, or however many you think you will need. I currently use three and this works out well. Usually one can I am adding too, one is resting and being turned into compost, and one I am taking compost from and using it in the garden

Three seems to be the right number for me. By the time the 3rd one is full, the first one is almost ready to be used. But you do you. Start with one and see how it goes!

row of 3 plastic garbage cans used for composting
Keep your composting bins in direct contact with the ground to invite the worms in.

DIY Composting Container

holes drilled into plastic garbage can lid to be used for composting
Drill the holes evenly spaced 8″-10″ apart over the entire can and lid.

With the drill, poke lots of holes all over the garbage can. Including the bottom and the lid. Aproximately 8″-10″ apart. Set the can down directly on the earth. Do not set it on anything but the actual ground, you will see why later. Don’t put it up on your deck, or prop it up on some platform. You want the bottom of the bin resting on good ol’ dirt.

The “Greens” for Your Compost

vegetable scraps, the greens for composting
Collect your “greens”, including food waste from the kitchen.

Collect kitchen scraps such as vegetable and fruit trimmings, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags. For quicker composting, cut things up smaller, or, even blend them. I keep a 5 gallon bucket just outside my kitchen door. W

e create a LOT of kitchen waste as I eat mostly plant based. If you don’t make much kitchen waste, a cute little compost bin in your kitchen will work. I dump all kitchen waste that is compostable into that bucket after cutting things up smaller like banana peels and watermelon rinds. I aim for things to be 1″ square or less in size.

You don’t have too cut things up, but it helps break down quicker. These are your “greens” in the composting process. You can use yard waste too if you have it. Don’t use things that have been treated with chemicals. For example, if you fertilize your lawn or treat it with weed spray, don’t use the grass clippings.

What NOT to Compost

Don’t include meat, oils or oily things (like butter or fried veggies or oils in general…or mayonnaise) or dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt,  or eggs. These things will attract vermin and are not good in compost piles. Do not include your dog or cat waste or any animal waste from animals that eat meat, including human waste.

The “Browns” for Your Compost

used chicken bedding in plastic bin, the browns for composting
The “browns” for composting. I like to use spent animal bedding. This bin may be almost empty, but I have plenty more from the chickens and goats ready to use.

Finding your browns might be the hardest part of this process if you don’t have critters on your homestead to utilize. Check out your local feed store to see what they have that might work for you. Feed store prices are going to be the best for large volumes of bedding materials.

My favorite thing to use are equine wood bedding pellets similar to these, but I get them at the feed store. I use them for bedding in my chicken brooders and/or coops. These would work well for your compost if used for any type of animal bedding such as horse, goat, rabbit or poultry (not dogs or cats!).

I also use pine shavings similar to this, that I also get at the feed store. I use the shavings in most of our chicken coops when I run out of the pellets or we also use them in the goat barn. Both the pellets and the wood shavings break down quickly and are easy to store in rubber bins or trash cans until you need them.

The manure mixed in with them is an added bonus. You could also use bags of leaves you raked up last fall (collect these from family, neighbors and friends too! Leaves are GOLD in the garden!), shredded paper or cardboard, saw dust, etc.

Beginner Composting: The Process

When your bucket is full of kitchen scraps, walk on down to where you store your new handy dandy compost bin/trash can. Dump in your kitchen scraps. Add two to three times that much in brown materials. So if you dump 1 gallon of “greens” in, add 2-3 gallons of “browns”.

Spray with a hose if you want to jumpstart things, getting everything inside good and damp. This will start the magical process of things breaking down in there. Put the lid on. Use bungie cord to keep the lid on by threading through the handles and across the top, to keep pesky raccoons and/or dogs from getting in.

If you are manly, and have the brute strength to do so, you could turn the can on it’s side and roll it around to stir things up. I don’t. You could stir things inside occasionally if you wanted to with a shovel. I might do this occasionally, but not often. Repeat process until the bin is full. Than leave it, just water occasionally if you notice it is dry inside.

inside of compost bin
This photo is just after I have dumped in my “greens”, than I dumped in 3x that amount in “browns”. And then I hose it down a bit, put the lid on, and walk away!

Natures Part of the Composting Process

Now, the magic begins, and everything in there starts to decay. The worms move in from the holes in the bottom. (This is why you set it directly on the ground!) The worms eat the decaying stuff and leave their castings in there which is just more added goodness.

In anywhere from 3-6 months time, open the lid, and walla. You will have lovely compost to layer on your garden in either spring or in fall. That is how I usually time it. You will know it is ready if you dig around a bit and can’t identify any of the greens you have put in.

In the spring as I am getting the veggie garden ready for planting, I empty the bins one by one as they are ready, by layering the compost onto my gardening rows. Then I begin filling the bins slowly over the summer.

By fall, when it is time to start cleaning up the veggie gardens for winter, these bins become ready and I put another layer on each row for the winter. When empty, start filling them up again, and there you go! Simple, Easy, No Work DIY Composting.

And that is the Simple Easy No Work DIY Composting System

I hope this tutorial has taught you how easy simple no work diy composting can be. When I first started learning about composting, I got caught up in all the details and it seemed like a lot of work. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be! I try to make gardening in general, as simple as it can be. After all, it is supposed to be FUN!

Want to Remember This?

Please pin my “Simple Easy No Work DIY Composting System” tutorial to your favorite gardening board on Pinterest!

pinterest pin showing compost bins




  1. jan | 11th Mar 19

    Love this, it’s what I do too, after having had a compost bin right on the garden bed to save shifting soil when it was ‘done’ – but took up too much room. This is a much better system, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Tamara | 11th Mar 19

      Hi Jan! YES! So much easier to move the compost around from these. I usually bring a 5 gallon bucket and shovel to the compost bin, fill it and dump where I need it. 🙂

  2. Jessica | 11th Mar 19

    Wow, this looks SO easy! I’m definitely going to utilize it this year. I’ve been making a “mush” of my kitchen scraps in the blender and digging that into my garden but I’d really like to have some true “black gold” to spread on the garden. I actually already have a spare trash can I can use!

    Just a question though, how does this do in a climate that has cold winters? I’m in zone 7 but we do get freezing temps (it was below freezing at night a LOT this winter). Does the moist waste freeze up to where the wormies wouldn’t be able to eat it?

    • Tamara | 11th Mar 19

      Hi Jessica! I am in zone 8b and can only speak to that. I think the worms know how to survive in the cold though, they can always go back to the ground and get deep enough to survive, if what is in the can isn’t staying warm enough. Good luck!

  3. Amanda | 31st Mar 19

    Hello, I would like to know if the cans should be in full sun, partial or shade. I am in zone 9. Thank you for the great tutorial.

    • Tamara | 2nd Apr 19

      Hi Amanda, I keep them in full sun. Just remember that as the days warm up, especially you being in zone 9, that you may need to open them if it gets up to 70 degrees or warmer. Heat isn’t a problem usually in the winter, but as the warm spring days start up, don’t forget to open them if it gets warm!

    • Tamara | 7th May 19

      OK, I made a boo boo. I had replied to you earlier, and I had thought your question was about winter sowing jugs…..sorry! I now realize it was for the composting bins! Don’t open them!!! LOL! Mine get shade in the morning, get mid day sun, and then shade late afternoon. Forget all I said above, as that was meant for growing plants in milk jugs, which you can read more about in my winter sowing tutorial! So sorry about that!

  4. Andrea Frick | 15th Apr 19

    What if you don’t have enough “browns” to add? What will happen?

    • Tamara | 15th Apr 19

      Hi Andrea, you must use the correct amount of brown, otherwise, it become a stinky soggy mess, not compost. If you don’t have browns to add, you could add water and make a compost tea out of the stinky soggy mess, or look up trench composting. Those are two options I would consider. Consider using old cardboard, newspaper, paper grocery bags, saw dust or wood shavings as options for brown. Hope that helps!

  5. Brooke | 19th Jun 19

    This makes composting seem doable again! I haven’t restarted in the new house

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