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Making a Compost Bin

Category Composting
Making a Compost Bin
You can easily and inexpensively make your own backyard compost bin, it need not be an expensive commercial model. This is a guide about making a compost bin.
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By 4 found this helpful
December 9, 2010

I found an abandoned dog carrier measuring about 27 x 19 x 19. It's split on the bottom, but I've turned it into a compost bin. The recycling/composting experts I called agreed that it would work. They were happy to hear I was using something that could easily have been thrown out. To keep it as full as possible, place the carrier with the door facing up to rotate compost.

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By CS7 from Salem, OR

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December 13, 20160 found this helpful

Pallets are often available for free and can be used for many wood building projects. This is a guide about making a wood pallet compost bin.

Compost bin made from pallets with door open

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By 0 found this helpful
November 28, 2005

No matter how much you pay for a compost bin, breaking down organic waste requires four things: water, air, a few naturally occurring microbes and a fair amount of patience. Many manufactured compost systems come complete with various bells and whistles: special gear systems for easy mixing, ergonomic ventilation slots, and enhanced faux finishes to match your landscaping décor. Add to that a wide range of accessories-compost accelerators, pile turners, scrap carriers and soil sifters-and you're looking at spending upwards of a couple hundred dollars. Here are two cheap and easy bins you can make yourself that will result in the same nutrient-rich compost.

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The Snow-Fence Bin

Materials needed:

Construction Directions:

Remove the grass and sod from the area where you will construct your compost pile. Construct a 3 foot square frame from the 2 x 4's. Wrap the snow fence around the frame to form a box. Fasten ends together with nails or wire and place in desired area.

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Getting Started Composting:

Place 3-4 inches of chopped brush or course waste on top of the bare soil surface at the bottom of the bin to enable air circulation around the base of the heap. Place 6-8 inches of leaves, grass clippings, garden waste and other organic materials on top of the coarse layer. Mix water into the pile until damp (not soggy). Add a 1 inch layer of soil over this to get composting started. If more nitrogen is needed, add 1-2 inches of manure or a handful of commercial fertilizer to the pile.

Turn the pile with a shovel or pitchfork every few weeks as you continue to mix in more waste. An alternative method is to pick up the bin, move it next to the pile and shovel the compost back into the bin at the new location. Add water when the pile is dry.

The Barrel Bin (excellent for small yards).

Materials Needed:

Construction Directions:

Drill or punch 1/2 inch-sized holes in several rows over the length of the barrel and on the bottom of the barrel. These will provide air circulation and drainage. Secure the barrel's lid with the hinge (attach an optional handle to make opening more convenient). Stand the barrel upright on blocks to allow air circulation around the base.

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Barrel Bin Variation: construct the barrel and place it on blocks as above but remove the top and bottom of the barrel. Fill barrel with yard waste and insert a plastic tube (perforated with holes) into the center of the compost heap. The tube will help transfer air and collect rain for the pile. Remove the tube when mixing is needed.

Getting Started Composting:

Fill the barrel 3/4 full of leaves, grass clippings and other organic waste. Add 1/3 cup of nitrogen fertilizer and add water until pile is damp (not soggy). Continue to add waste to the barrel as it becomes available. To mix the compost, simply roll the barrel around on the ground. Remove the lid following mixing to allow the pile exposure to rain and air.

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May 18, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about making a trash can composter. You don't have to spend a lot of money to purchase a composter. Make an inexpensive one from a trash can.

Trash Can Composter

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
June 9, 2009

Does anyone have an idea for how to make a compost bin, without a lot of expense?

By bayouchic from Slidell, LA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 9, 20090 found this helpful

You can go to google and type in "making a compost bin" There are several sites showing different types of inexpensive bins to make. Actually the bin keeps out animals so you could just start one on the ground without a bin if you choose to.

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I just wrap some chicken wire or old screen material around 3 or 4, 4 ft tall (long) 2 x 2 lumber and pounded the lumber into the ground w a lg hammer. Nail/staple or screw the screen/wire to the wood and turn compost often.

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I made mine out of 4 wooden pallets that I stood up on their sides and wired together. One of the pallets is the "door" where I attached a latch on either side for easy removal. Works for me.

You can find them just about anywhere. Just ask someone at the garden homecenters if they'll sell you a few, or look it up in the yellow pages.

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I have a couple of thoughts after reading the post about using a dishwasher. Is this idea safe? Do metals or plastics leach to the ground? If using compost for a vegetable garden, does anything seep into the compost? Also, be sure the dishwasher door doesn't lock anymore or isn't hinged. As with any discarded applicance, a child could get locked inside.

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I use a large plastic storage box. I punched holes all around the sides and bottom. I put my "stuff" in and then turn the box over on one visit and then to the side on the next, and the other side the next visit. I water slightly every once in a while. It just sits in the back yard out of the way and works very good!

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June 13, 20090 found this helpful

I made mine portable because I didn't have enough room in my small yard. It's good if you rent also so you don't have to remove a permanent one if you move. I used a large rigid plastic storage bin with a lid. You can also use a large round plastic garbage can with a lid. Drill small holes all around bottom and sides for air and drainage. Put in your compost material and a layer of soil, put lid on and put a couple of bricks down for it to sit on. (It drains better this way.)

All you do from here on is secure the lid and turn the entire box over and on it's sides. You can just roll the garbage can on it's sides to mix. Water to keep moist. When you're digging in the garden and come upon earth worms, put some in the compost bin. They like it in there and they and help with decompress process. I've done this for several years now and have really nice results.

P.S. When drilling holes in the rigid plastic start with a small drill bit. The larger bits can crack the plastic. You can make larger holes by changing bits or use a larger screw driver and bore the hole a little larger. Don't make the hole real large or "stuff" will come out the holes.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I am looking for an inexpensive way to make a compost bin using easy to find recycled materials. I don't want it to be very large and it needs to be easy to turn the composted material. I just need to recycle garden and kitchen waste. Any suggestions?

Hardiness Zone: 4a

By RocknChr from Ord, NE

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September 24, 20100 found this helpful

I have composted for years in my backyard. The most inexpensive compost pile is just that: a place where you pile up your compostable items and let them do their thing. No fence, no container, just a pile. However, most people, including me, like their compost to be a little more contained. I bought $4.00 worth of chicken wire and simple shaped it into a circle, with one large "stake" that was made from a piece of fallen tree branch. I wrapped the ends of the wire around the stake. The chicken wire is a little less than waist high so I can stir my pile when it needs it. And when it comes time to empty it out, I simply unwrap one end from the stake, open up the circle, shovel out the compost, and spread it where I want it.

By the way, it didn't take all $4.00 worth of chicken wire to make one compost enclosure either, I had plenty left over!

Good luck and have fun. From: Granma Peggy

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September 25, 20100 found this helpful

How about getting a barrel. With a lid when you want to turn it just roll it. Just make sure that it didn't have any harmful chemicals in it originally. Food grade plastic barrels would probably last the longest.

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September 26, 20100 found this helpful

I have seen one made out of 3 wood pallets, the kind you usually find for free. Most stores will have them outside near their loading docks. And if you can't find them you can always log onto a freecycle website (if you have one in your area, they are great) and post a "wanted" asking for them there. People are always "giving" them away (because that's what we at freecycle.com do on freecycle, give away things). Just secure 2 sides with a bottom and voila! You have a compost bin that breathes (make sure you use galvanized screws so they won't rust, those are less expensive than aluminum or stainless steal). You can lay something like branches on the bottom, opposite direction of wood slats, so items won't fall through the openings easily. Can always get a fourth pallet too, add a couple of hinges (so easy) and have a lid also. I hope that's been helpful.

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April 14, 20110 found this helpful

If animals aren't a problem, you can make a simple bin with chicken wire. Leave the bottom open and the area where it is placed can be changed, if you want, leaving a very rich spot for planting. Just move the compost around with a rake. The center will get "hot" where the action is, so constantly moving the contents around, daily is great, and add water so the texture is like a wrung-out dish rag. You can cover the top if frequent rains are a problem and it will get too wet. that is a real basic pile. Look at pictures of commercial ones for other ideas, container types,etc. As long as it gets air and moisture it will work. Sandra

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By 0 found this helpful
July 19, 2016

Is there a stain that I can use on my compost bin to protect it that won't contaminate the soil?

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

I assume this is a wooden structure

there are many natural oils such as linseed oil that are or were used for staining and preserving wood that re not toxic.

here are more ideas: "Coffee, tea, vinegar, walnut hulls and even certain berries can be used to stain wood. One simple way to stain wood is to boil tea leaves in two cups of water until you have a deep tea concentrate. Simply brush the hot tea water onto your wood." www.moneypit.com/article/natural-non-toxic-wood-stain-coffee-berries-and-more

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

I would stain it with tea bags. You want something natural, or else the compost will affect your soil.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 3, 2014

How do I keep the snakes out of my compost bin? I love composting, but hate snakes!

By Linda

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I am looking for instructions to make a homemade compost bin.

By Patti from Colorado Springs, CO

Answers:

Homemade Compost Bin

We just researched this in depth for our home, and have our homemade compost bin up and running as of yesterday. So this is a question I can answer!

We came up with three basic options. I'll outline them and then tell you what we picked.

  1. No-cost made from scratch: we found directions for making a bin with poles sunk in the ground and chicken wire wrapped around and attached. It occurred to me that with a supply of flexible branches and vines from the gully behind our house, stripped of leaves, and poles from small pruned branches, I could weave a basket-style composter that would match the chicken-wire pattern, but not cost us anything. Benefit: no cost. Drawback: More work to move/turn the compost pile inside, as the whole thing has to be moved and the poles reset. (This is true for the chicken wire version, too.)

  2. Low-cost option: Get a large metal garbage can. Drill holes (or hammer a large nail through to make holes) every 3-4 inches all around the can, in rows about 3-4 inches apart. To turn the compost, you just tie the lid down with a bit of twine through its lid and the handles on the side of the can, tip the whole thing over, and roll it around the yard a bit. Cost for a new can in our area: $25. Benefit: Much less work to turn compost. Drawback: No one responded to my Freecycle request for a used garbage can, a damaged one would be fine, since it needs holes anyway. So we had to buy one up front. (I never got a clear answer on whether a big black plastic can would work as well as a metal can. The plastic was cheaper, and could be found larger, but some sites suggested that the heat generated inside could cause chemicals to leach from the plastic that you wouldn't want to end up in your vegetable garden.

  3. High-cost option: Buy a premade composter. The one I liked was like a sideways can on a stand, with two bins and handles for turning. It was expensive! Be wary, I also saw some premade compost bins that had lousy designs, based on what I read, and still cost more than a garbage can. Benefit: Easy. Drawback: Expensive.

We went with the trash can option. We bought a galvanized steel can at Lowe's. (Wal-mart didn't have a metal one.) It took about 20 minutes to drill all the holes, including setup and cleanup. I don't know if the same ad is in the paper everywhere, but this morning's paper had a Lowe's coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase, so if you're getting anything else along with the trash can, that might be worth knowing.

We use a big plastic coffee can to collect compostable waste in the kitchen, since it has a tight-fitting lid and is a convenient size. I printed out a list of what should and shouldn't go in it, and stuck this on the side of the container for reference.

The EPA and various state and municipal websites had lots of good information on composting and making a homemade composter. Google connected us to tons of details, not just how to go about making various composters, but what to put in it, how to know what to add to keep the ratios right for making high-quality compost, how to troubleshoot potential problems, etc. If you like, I can send you some of the information I saved while we were researching this. Just ask.

I hope this helps! (05/17/2009)

By sterghe

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

How do I make a cheap compost bin?

Casey from Sherman, TX

Answers:

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

I made mine from a food grade steel barrel with a clamp top lid. Open the lid, roll it around the yard.
Be sure to give it some air. (09/24/2008)

By rlund3

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

I read this online somewhere and want to try it next summer, although it takes some work to get it ready. One way to make a small compost bin is to take a 5 gallon plastic bucket and drill holes randomly beginning about 6 inches from the top (this keeps it from attracting scavengers). The holes must be big enough to allow earthworms to pass through and aerate the compost. Then dig a hole large enough for the bucket to be almost flush with the ground. Fill it, snap on the lid, and stir it once a week. (09/24/2008)

By ajf54

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

We made one with a 55 gallon metal barrel. We partially buried it in the ground (about 2/3's), after adding some holes to the bottom. It needed to be turned over occasionally. It takes up very little space, and you get good compost quickly. I liked to keep the cover on. It kept animals out. (09/25/2008)

By mulberry204

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

I am using a large plastic tote box for mine. I drilled a couple of holes in the sides for drainage when i water the compost. I works just great. I also bought some compost booster at Lowe's. Just sprinkle it over and water in. Janette (09/25/2008)

By ashleybunkin

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

We made ours out of three free pallets. I have two. One I fill all Summer long and then in the Fall I get manure and make layers. (09/25/2008)

By Ole Lulu

Making A Cheap Compost Bin

We made one from a discarded dishwasher. We dug a hole large enough for the dishwasher to fit on it's back into the ground. The door was then on the top and it was perfect for compost. (09/26/2008)

By melody_yesterday

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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