Making your own compost bin is a great way to save money and conserve the environment. The composting process is also very rewarding activity. Making composting toilets or organic waste can help you reduce your waste by recycling, reusing, and reducing. Organic matter can also improve your soil's moisture-holding capacity, drainage properties, and nutrient content.We all know that the easiest way to start composting is by building a DIY compost bin, but it can be hard to figure out how to build one from scratch. This guide will walk you through every step of making your very first compost bin so you can get started right away!
1. Prepare the Tools and Materials
The first thing you will need to do is prepare the tools and materials you will need. The most important tools for this project include:
- A shovel
- Plastic sheeting
- Some wood or metal to help build a base and walls for your compost bin
- Plastic compost container or trash can
- Garden fork or shovel
- A knife or screwdriver
2. Choose Your Location
The first step to start your composting journey is to decide the location of your compost bin. If you live in a city, then pick an easily accessible area. In a community garden? Use the shared compost bin.
The important thing is to choose somewhere that will be easy to access during all seasons of the year. This will allow you to turn your compost and add waste at any time.
If you do not have a backyard, or a viable outdoor space, do not despair! An indoor compost bin is a great option for anyone who is living in an apartment. You can even put it under your kitchen cabinet or sink.
3. Choose Your Bin Type
Once you have the location picked out, it's time to choose a type of compost bin for your needs. One of the most basic choices is between a wood frame and an enclosed plastic container.
The wooden bins are typically made from pallets or boards bound together with wire, rope, or nails. You can buy a ready-made frame, or you can make your own very easily.
The plastic containers come in all sizes and colors. The most commonly used types are made from black polyethylene plastic that is UV-resistant to allow long-term exposure to sunlight without fading or degrading.
The size and the type of bin are your choice, depending on the amount of waste you produce. The standard size is 10 to 20 gallons, but you can find models that hold as much as 200 gallons.
4. Prepare the Composting Bin
The next step will be to prepare your bin and make it ready for the job ahead. Make sure you rinse it well and ensure no non-biodegradable items linger around it. If it's a new bin, make sure you remove the tags and the packaging.
Remove the lid on the plastic bin. Drill holes in the sides of the bin. The size and number of holes will depend on what materials you will add to your pile. If you want your compost pile to decompose quickly, drill lots of small holes throughout the sides of your container. You can use a knife or screwdriver to poke holes in the container. If you want high-quality compost, then use a hammer and small nail to make large holes that go all the way through the sides of your bin.
This will allow for good air circulation. Set up your bin on an even surface with sturdy footings to support the bin's weight. Keep your compost bin away from trees, bushes, and anything else that will obstruct airflow. If animals walk in your yard, use a bungee code to secure the bin.
5. Start Filling the Bin with Layers of Organic Material
You can start filling your bin by adding layers of organic wastes such as vegetable scraps, lawn waste (including grass clippings), and dead leaves. Try to alternate between brown and green materials. Add about five or six inches of materials per layer. You will want the first layer you add to mainly brown because they are usually dryer, which speeds up decomposition. The following layers can be green because they are usually wetter, which slows down the composting process.
After every few layers of green materials, add a layer of brown ones to your compost bins. This will help the composting process by speeding it up and will ensure you get the correct ratios. If you're starting a pile, use two buckets of brown and one bucket of green. Do not exceed that ratio, or the composting process may become too fast.
6. Add Food Scraps and Other Kitchen Waste
One of the best things about making a DIY compost bin is that you can use all your kitchen waste, including food scraps and yard waste. Some food scraps that work include banana peels, egg shells, corn cobs, fruit peels, and plant trimmings. Yard waste that can be composted includes grass clippings, weeds from your garden, leaves, woody prunings such as twigs or small branches (no bigger than 2 inches in diameter), and tree bark.
However, remember to remove any meat or fat and rinse off anything before letting it into the compost bin. Meat, bones, and fat will cause foul odors during composting. Make sure not to include egg cartons made from Styrofoam as they won't compost either.
7. Continue Adding Layers
Make sure you add more layers, especially brown materials, until you fill the bin. It will take some time to fill the bin, so keep adding layers as you progress. Make sure everything is broken down and mixed well before moving on to the next layer. Don't worry about the size of the pile, as it will shrink when the decomposition process begins.
8. Use Your Compost
It should be about two weeks until your compost is ready. When all the organic materials have finished compost process, your fresh compost should smell earthy and good. It should have a dark brown color, a little moisture, and be crumbly.
After approximately 30 days, you’ll get usable compost. Make sure to use warm water and a garden trowel to remove the compost from the bin and eliminate any trash that's still in it. You can use this in your vegetable or flower gardens as long as you add it in layers with soil.
Composting Tips and Tricks
- Always use good compost materials, such as grass clippings, shredded newspaper, vegetable scraps, dead flowers, coffee grounds, and dry leaves.
- Leave larger pieces in your bin to get broken down by the worms.
- Prepare food waste with your compost before adding them to the bin to make them easier for the worms to consume.
- Avoid the bad materials that can harm your piles, such as animal products, chemicals, and plastics.
- Add worms to your bin so that they can speed up the decomposition process. Some worms are better than others so ask an expert for help if you're unsure which ones to add.
Start Making Your Compost Today!
Making your compost bin is as easy as simply following the process above. Anyone can do it as long as you know what to add and what to avoid. The worms will help speed up the process, so it's important to add them when you can. Keep the outside of your bin free from pests and able to be closed enough so that nothing escapes with a lid.
Organic matter added to your soil's organic content can improve your soil's moisture-holding capacity, drainage properties, and nutrient content and help you achieve rich soil for gardening. You can even make simple compost bins yourself to help improve these attributes. Use what you've learned and start your own composting project today!