Making a Compost Bin

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. We had a great evening with a couple of friends, good food, and drinks. We are avoiding the crowds of black Friday shoppers, though we may walk to a nearby park.

Last weekend I made a compost bin for our yard. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but one thing or another prevented me. Finally I decided to just go for it.

We have a pretty small backyard and it is mostly patio. We have a few feet of grass though. I wanted to start the compost bin to reduce the waste we throw out, and for the herb garden I plan to start.

Compost bin

The first thing you need to do is decide where/how the compost bin will be contained. I really liked the idea of a compost bin made of wooden pallets, but our backyard is not set up for that. The next option was to get a plastic container, either one of the barrel types that rotate, or like the one above. I went back and forth for a long time on using a plastic container for the bin, but eventually I bought this 30 gallon bin from Lowe’s for less than $10.

If you buy a bin similar to the one above, you will need to create holes to keep the compost aerated. I borrowed a friend’s drill to create holes on the bottom, lid, and all sides. Then I shredded newspaper and filled the bin about 1/4 of the way full. You can also use dry leaves instead of newspaper.

Next fill the bin to about half full with dirt and start adding food scraps. Given everything a good stir and your compost bin is ready! It is also recommended you add a little bit of warm water to the bin at this point and every time you add food. Not too much water or else the bin will start to smell, but just enough to make it a little damp. I skipped this step as it was raining at the time I created the compost bin.

Every time you add something to the bin, give the contents a stir and make sure it is slightly damp. You’ll be able to add most food items to the bin, though you’ll want to avoid meat, dairy, and bread. Below is a list of things you can include in your compost bin:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Dryer lint

Garlic and potatoes can go in the pile, but you’ll want to chop them up before putting them in. Garlic and potatoes can sprout and regrow, which is why you’ll need to chop them up to make sure they decompose properly. You should also avoid putting glossy paper (like magazines) and cardboard into the bin.

We’ve only had the compost bin a week and love it so far. We have put so much in already, and it was a huge help when prepping for Thanksgiving. All the onion peelings and parts of vegetables we don’t eat were put in. Right now we just carry the scraps out to the bin as we create them, though we are considering getting a mini-bin for the kitchen.

Right now we keep the bin by the garage, on the patio instead of the grass. I would recommend keeping away from the house in case it ever does smell.

I strongly recommend everyone consider setting up a compost bin. The plastic container was the only thing we had to pay for, everything else we already had on hand. It’s very easy to start and the benefits to the environment are huge. Having a compost bin means less goes into our landfills and healthier options for your backyard.

Over the next few months, I’ll post updates on our compost bin and how it is turning out.

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