I want to make a small manageable compost bin. I was wondering if I could just use a large plastic garbage can? If so do I need to put some holes in it so that air can get to the compost materials? Also, what are the alternating materials I need to put in the compost pile?
Jonnie from Ky
I compost my household kitchen garbage in an old bathtub in my backyard. I don't layer per se. I start with a bag of topsoil from the store. I keep a small plastic bucket outside my kitchen door. I throw all my kitchen scraps in it, coffee grounds, potato and onion peelings, crushed eggshells, etc. If it is something large, such as watermelon rind, I dice it into smaller pieces.
Every few days, I dump this container into one end of the tub. I pull just enough soil from the other end over my little mound of waste to bury it. Cover the tub so it doesn't get too wet from rain. If it gets too dry, add a little water. Repeat this step each time you empty your container. When there is no more soil on the other end to pull, just reverse ends and put your waste in the bottom and repeat the procedure. Usually by the time that I reverse, everything in the first end is about converted. Seeds will sprout in this because it doesn't heat up as regular compost piles, but it turns to rich, loamy soil very quickly. You could probably do the same thing in a garbage can, just layer it alternating kitchen scraps with topsoil, and then stir it occasionally.
Harlean from AK (09/27/2004)
Plastic or metal garbage cans or 55 gallon drum barrels work fine, especially if you can half bury an old office chair upside down and lay the garbage can onto its caster wheels, slightly inclined, similar to the drum on a concrete mixer. Drive a fat post into the ground behind it and cover it with a sawed off bleach jug as a bottom bearing to keep it from sliding back.
Every time you add stuff, spin the drum half a turn or more. If the compost is too wet, add a cup or two of peat moss or dry dirt. Remember to feed it one or more slices of bread per week and you will have "good" compost (all seeds killed off and no offensive smells).
In northern climates build a hoop tent over it with concrete re-bar and bubble wrap to extend the season.
An egg sized hole in the lid, covered with cheese cloth or mosquito netting, allows enough air exchange and keeps it from firing the lid into the neighbor's bedroom window.
For balcony or porch use, or for a ready-made solution, check out the SUN-MAR composting toilets: sun-mar.com.
They can of course also be used as intended or put into a garden tool shed to eliminate having to run into the house each time somebody needs to "go". (09/28/2004)
Yes, you can compost in a plastic garbage can. I've done it before and I got black gold. Just add hole sin the bottom and and with a cover on it and put in the sun. Maybe some hole son the sides to for drainage. The dirt smells so good when it was done cooking. (06/12/2009)
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