DIY: How to Make Your Own Compost Bin for Under $5!!
Ever since I have became socially aware of the increase in methane gas from throwing foods items away like banana peels, lettuce, potato scraps & more I have wanted to start a compost bin. After searching for a bin that fit our lifestyle, and needs I realized that we could not afford one. In actuality these bins are pretty pricey, and sadly that price deters many from purchasing them.
I had a designated spot in my yard that I was using for our fruit and veggie scraps, but I wanted something neater, and more efficient something that would more efficiently benefit our upcoming garden. Well, I starting thinking about how I could make a compost bin that would look ok, and effectively turn our waste into rich compost, and fertilizer.
Well, a few days ago between my husband and myself’s brainstorming we came up with the perfect way to make a cheap compost bin. Why not turn one of the 18 gallon plastic bins we got on sale for $3.50 into a nice little bin that would not be too hard on the eyes? Thankfully, this idea was brought to life rather quickly, and my husband came up with a perfected solution.
Start by drilling 5/16″ holes roughly 2″ apart in both directions. Drill these holes on the bottom, sides, and top lid of the bin. This will allow oxygen into the bin, which is required for the bacteria that’ll be doing all the work. The type of bacteria that works to turn your kitchen scraps into compost is Aerobic, meaning that it survives in the presence of oxygen. The ideal mix/ratio for compost is 25-30 parts carbon (browns) to 1 part nitrogen (greens). Remember, this is ideal, but not required, just keep in mind that every time you add greens to your bin, you should also add some browns. Nitrogen rich materials (greens) are most of your kitchen scraps, such as apple peels, lettuce, potato peels, etc…. Carbon rich materials (browns) are leaves, shredded paper, wood chips, bark, etc….
To get your bin started, add your kitchen scraps, shredded paper or dry leaves, and a scoop of soil from your yard or garden. The soil acts as an activator, since it contains the natural bacteria necessary for composting. Now just mix the materials at least once a week, or every time you add scraps to it; and there you go-you have the perfect basis for creating all natural “black gold”. With regular mixing, you should have fresh compost in 4-5 weeks (providing that temperatures aren’t freezing outside).
Compost is wonderful, and essential for plants to thrive. Best of all you do not need to spend money on fertilizers, or a ton to get started making your own! I cannot wait for spring to roll around because we have hopes of growing a ton of healthy goodies.
**In climates with cold winters, like here in New England, the bacteria typically goes dormant (unless you have a huge compost pile). You can continue to add scraps throughout winter, and once the weather warms, the bacteria will become active and your compost process will resume.
—————-> Week 8 Update<———————
UPDATE: It’s been 8 weeks since I built this compost bin. Throughout February and March, I was filling it with all of our compostable kitchen scraps plus, shredded paper and leaves (for carbon content). During those first several weeks, the weather was too cold for the bacteria to activate and begin composting. However, in late March, I was pleasantly surprised to find my compost bin steaming one afternoon when I headed outside to drop another load of scraps inside.
Since then, the temperature outside has gradually increased and the compost bin is in full effect! Upon last check, we were at a steamy 140F inside the pile. I expect that temperature to rise to about 160F, once the outside temps are consistently above freezing, but this is great progress nonetheless!
It’s been about 3 weeks since the compost activated, and decomposition is very noticeable. In addition, the bin is pretty much filled to the point that I can’t turn the compost without it spilling out, so I stopped adding it. My plan now is to let it cook for another couple of weeks. If I keep turning it every few days, I should have finished compost by mid April (providing that we don’t regress back into freezing temperatures).
I’m considering building an additional bin, so I can have 2 active piles at different stages. But until then, I’ve been adding our kitchen scraps to our worm bin and Bokashi bin, which are different methods to composting. You can check out our reviews of those products, by clicking on our gardening tab above or by using the search box to the top right of our site.
I will provide another update once I have finished compost. Good luck with your composting!