Late last summer I began a small landscaping project in our front yard. It is, alas, an ongoing project because the money for the landscaping budget went to fix the car unexpectedly. Though the project seems discouragingly never-ending, it did get me interested in composting because I bought quite a lot of compost to add to the soil to prepare it for my new plants.
Our town actually sells very nice compost bins, but they cost $50 each. You can buy a lot of compost for $50, so I decided to try to make my own bin. Last fall, I did just that. The bin is pretty full now and since compost needs some time to “rest” so everything can finish decomposing, I decided to make another bin for all the food scraps and other compost-able things I collect in the meantime. Since the first bin is working out so well, I made the second bin just like the first. Here’s how I did it.
What you’ll need:
- power drill
- large outdoor trash can with lid (the one I got is 32 gallons)
- bungee cord (optional, but probably a good idea)
- newspaper or tarp to catch the little plastic bits
The compost bin needs air to aid in decomposition, so drill holes in the bottom, sides, and lid of the trash can. I drilled about four holes in the bottom, but I’m regretting that now and think I probably should have drilled more. It’s just that the plastic on the bottom of this bin was very thick and hard to drill through so I gave up after four. Having lots of holes in the bottom helps with drainage, which is a good thing.
Then I drilled about 25 holes all around the trash can and 8 holes in the lid.
Then I placed the new compost bin next to the one I made last fall. Don’t they make a pretty pair?
I put a bungee cord on the old bin when I made it last fall because I read that critters might get interested in the contents of the bin which creeped me out. But I’ve never seen a critter anywhere near the old bin and the new bin’s lid fits quite snugly, so I didn’t bother with this one. I’ll change my mind at the first sign of a critter though.
So how much money did I save by NOT purchasing the town’s $50 bins?
2 trash cans: $20 (Yup, that’s right. Each trash can cost only $10.)
bungee cord: $2 (I actually can’t remember the cost since I bought it last summer, but it can’t have been more than $2.)
power drill: FREE, since I borrowed it from my neighbor.
Grand total for two homemade compost bins: $22
Total cost if I had purchased two of the town’s bins: $100
In my next post I’ll go over how to get the party started — what to add to the bin and how to stir it up. Here’s a sneak peek though:
Update — 5/17/2010
I was having trouble with the bin not draining properly which made the contents too moist, so I drilled several more holes in the bottom of the bin (and even a few more holes in the sides) which seems to have solved the problem. Also, if you’re interested, I’ve written several posts on composting which you can read here, here, and here.