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I am so happy to share with you today, my Simple Easy No Work DIY Composting method using a diy compost bin made from a garbage can!
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.
Compost Pile vs Bin
This system using a bin, involves no turning of the pile, that is why it is so easy! Just a simple compost trash can that you can make yourself. Once you get the hang of it, you will always have loads of compost at the ready.
Composting in a pile, requires turning regularly, which is just another chore for me. I suppose if you are composting on a very large scale, a pile is likely a better option.
However, a pile needs a cover so that rain does not wash away all the goodness that is in the pile. It is often recommended that a compost pile also have a concrete floor, to make scooping it with a tractor easier.
For small scale gardeners and homesteaders, composting in a bin is just an easier solution in my opinion. And with this method, there is no work!
Equipment Needed for the DIY Composting Bin
A heavy duty plastic garbage can or trash can makes the perfect DIY Compost Bin. Get one with a lid, and you will also need a drill, ¼" 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
Tutorial for a DIY Compost Garbage/Trash Can
OK, on we go with this DIY compost bin! With the drill, poke lots of holes all over the garbage can. Including the bottom and the lid. Approximately 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
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.
We 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 to 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. See my article How to Get Rid of Rats on the Homestead.
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
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 three times that much in brown materials. So if you dump 1 gallon of "greens" in, add 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.
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. If you want to speed up the process, you can buy worms!
In anywhere from 3-6 months time, open the lid, and there you are! 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 up your compost trash can 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 DIY compost bin 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!
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