DIY Compost Bin: Making the most of your space and kitchen scraps

Hi all! Caitlin here on the blog this week to share one of my favorite ways to go green. I’m going to share a simple DIY backyard compost bin you can make as we continue on with isolation.

DIY Do It Yourself

Just like cloth diapering, backyard composting is a great way to ‘go green’. Reducing our household waste is one of the main reasons I chose to cloth diaper, and also why I got into backyard composting.

Toddler helps backyard compost diy

Just like cloth diapering, backyard composting is surprisingly easy once you get started and has a HUGE impact on the amount of stuff my family adds to the landfill each week.

How to Create Your Compost System

To get started all you need is a small pail, a drill, and a large cylindrical, outdoor garbage can.

kitchen compost pail, drill, and outdoor compost bin how to diy

The pail stays in your kitchen. It holds your compost before you take it outside so you aren’t running out with every banana peel.

To make your outdoor composter is really only one step - drill holes in your garbage can. On the sides, on the top, on the bottom. Ideally its best to have the holes no more than every 3-4 inches. Make sure there are holes in the lowest part of the can.

Backyard compost bin beside vegetable garden

You’re done! But wait, what do you do now with this random pail and leaky garbage can?

What Do I Put In My Bin?

The key to a good compost is in three simple steps: ingredients, oxygen, and moisture.

Your compost ingredients should be a mix of “brown” items and “green” items.

Brown items include dry leaves, shredded newspaper, and sawdust. Green items are kitchen scraps including fruit/vegetable waste, egg shells, and coffee grounds.

how to compost ingredients, newspaper and kitchen scraps over a garden with a toddler

As you get more confident with your compost you’ll begin to get a sense of what your compost “needs” and when to feed it more brown versus green items. To begin with, I started with a 50/50 blend and that worked well.

When your kitchen pail gets full of ‘greens’, take it out and add it to your outside compost bin. Give it a spin for oxygen (more on that next), and then add a layer of ‘browns’ on top.

Oxygen & Moisture

Oxygen is also key for getting your compost to break down quickly. Which is why a cylindrical garbage can works so well. Even my pregnant self can easily turn a full bin, allowing air to reach in all sides thanks to the many holes drilled in the can.

Lastly, moisture helps break things down. Each time I “feed” my composter I also water it. The excess is able to drain through the holes of this DIY composter which also helps create the perfect balance.

Make Compost, Not Landfill

You can spend a small fortune on tumblers and building perfect composters but for my family this is a simple, no mess, cost effective solution. The dogs can’t get into it, and I was able to repurpose our old bins. We take the trash out about half as often as we used to, and every spring and fall I have fresh, nutrient dense compost to fill my gardens with.

new garden filled with backyard compost

Quick tips:

- You can add animal manures to your pile from horses, rabbits, chickens, etc. but not waste from dogs or cats

- You can add to your composter all year long, it may just take longer or stop completely in the winter.

-Coffee filters, tea bags, and even paper towel (depending on what it was used to clean) can all be added to your compost

-Its better to feed your tumbler one large meal than many small ones - collect your scraps inside and add them in one big go.

Looking for more ways to go green? Check out more tips for a greener kitchen here.

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