Five Minute $9 Compost Bin

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  April 17, 2013 — 12 Comments

As part of my efforts to both grow my own food and be more environmentally friendly, one of my goals is to compost. It seems easy enough. You just throw your yard and kitchen scraps together and wait for them to break down, right? That’s the basics of it, but there’s no shortage of expensive products on the market designed to make the process go more smoothly. Of course, being the cheapo that I am, I like to DIY. A couple of years ago, before I had a blog, Nick and I built this makeshift compost bin out of pallets. We got them for free by asking at Lowe’s and secured them at the corners with metal brackets, then used hinges to attach the fourth side so that it could swing open. I started to paint it white but never finished. It’s actually looking sort of picturesque at the moment with that flowering vine that popped up out of nowhere.

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The problem with this system is that it’s A) not conveniently located, and B)¬†difficult to turn. The turning thing is not that big of a deal because I know that it will still break down into compost even if it’s never turned, it will just take longer, but the downside is that whatever good compost has been created is currently buried deep underneath a pile of grass clippings and laundry lint, which is about all I’ve added to the pile in at least a year because it’s way too inconvenient to be running my kitchen scraps all the way across the yard. For my veggie garden this year I ended up using commercial compost because it was just too much hassle to deal with my compost bin.

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But no more, because I’ve got an idea! I picked up this 32 gallon trash can for $9 at Home Depot.

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I removed the sticker and then used my largest drill bit to make holes all around the sides and bottom. It was so so so easy. Like a knife through butter. It literally took me five minutes.

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And voila! A compost bin located right next to the back door. Bonus: I can snap the lid on and roll it around the yard to turn. I’ll use a bungee for extra security if the lid doesn’t want to stay on. And then when I need to harvest some compost for a gardening project I can just drag the whole thing over to where I need it and shovel it right out.

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Now all I’ve got to do is move my pile from the old bin into the new one, and start collecting kitchen scraps again! Compost needs moisture, too, so I can either add some water as I tend to my veggie garden a few feet away or pop the lid off whenever I know that a rainstorm is coming. I’m really excited about making my own compost again. It’s so much better than the stuff you can buy in the store (since it’s made from a variety of components instead of the byproducts of a specific agricultural industry like mushrooms or cattle), and of course it’s freeeeeeee! Plus it’s so good for the environment. All that kitchen and yard waste that would have been headed for the landfill can go back into growing nutritious food for my family instead. Can’t beat that with a stick.

So what should I do with the old pallets once I shovel all that compost out? I’m not really into the idea of dismantling them into individual boards or using them for anything indoors, but I hate to just toss them. Maybe I should staple some tar paper to them and fashion a roof and voila, I’ll have the shed I’ve always dreamed of, haha.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


12 responses to Five Minute $9 Compost Bin

  1. Great idea for a compost bin, Looks like you might have poison ivy growing in your existing compost pile. Beware!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap April 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Is that what that is??? I’m not really allergic to it so I never knew what it looked like! I’ll have to warn Nick not to touch it though!

  2. Just in case Jack is allergic, you should wear gloves and maybe shower after you move everything….

    I have a friend that keeps a small bucket in/near her sink for her kids’ food leftovers. That way you can just take it out every few days instead of everytime something falls on the floor!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap April 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

      I used to keep a tupperware in my fridge, I think that’s what I’ll do again this time!

  3. Awesome idea to make a rolling compost bin! I think for the left over pallets you might want to plant something pretty in them and have a sort of vertical garden. Just a thought. Oh and be careful with the poison ivy!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap April 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Ooooh maybe I could move them to be a screen around the AC unit and plant something very low maintenance.

  4. These are so much more convenient and easier to turn than a big pile. (BTW, that’s not poison ivy, it’s maybe Virginia creeper. Poison ivy has three leaves — leaves of three, let it be — and this one appears to have five). A big problem I had with my compost bin like this is that all the good compost settles at the bottom and I have to sift through food scraps. Do you see that sort of square shaped indentation on the side of your can? You can cut along those lines, creating a flap that you can pull down to access the good compost at the bottom. Just use a bungee cord to hold the flap closed if you don’t want to bother with latches.

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