Blog Action Day 2009, Part 2 (or how to Make your own Compost Bin)

So if you read yesterday’s post, then you know that we are trying to embrace our greener side!  Not only for the planet at large but also for purely selfish reasons – we’re hoping to bring our weeded out backyard grass back from the brink of destruction by trying our hands at composting!  Yes, this is a pretty extreme measure on our parts and not necessarily for everyone, so we are putting ourselves out there as the potential guinea pigs and if it works out, then you should definitely give it a shot.  If it doesn’t….well….not to be deterred, we could always buy the Darth Vader Composter from Portland Metro.

We did some research online and realized that since we have a pretty small yard, a larger scale “pile” just wouldn’t work out for us (and it also sounded too complicated and hard-core), but a smaller-scale “Worm Bin” might actually do us some good!  And not only that, but we could make one out of items we had laying around the house!

Step 1: Buy or recycle a large plastic bin with a tight fitting lid – this helps keep unwanted neighbors out of your bin (rats, raccoons, etc.).  We happened to have one lying around that didn’t fit into any of our closets and so we couldn’t really use it.  Cost?  FREE!:


Step 2: Drill at least 6-10 small holes on the bottom of the bin for aeration:


Step 3: Drill holes on the sides of the bin (again, about 6-10 per side), about 2/3-3/4 of the way up the bin (you don’t want your compost to fall out of the sides).  Then you also need to drill holes in the lid as well:


Step 4: Then it’s time to load up the bin with bedding!  You could use shredded newspapers, brown paper bags, dead leaves (now is the perfect time to score a bunch of those for most people!), cardboard, sawdust, peat moss.  We didn’t have newspaper or leaves, but we did have a bunch of grocery bags.  Fill up your bin about 1/4 full:


Step 5: Now if we had useful dirt in our backyard, we could’ve just used that, but this is the essence of composting for us right now – we simply have the world’s worst dirt!  So we did actually purchase two bags of dirt from Home Depot and threw that on top to get a nice mixture going.  Cost: $6!  You need to fill it up with dirt until it is about 1/2 full:


Step 6: At this point, you’re ready to start composting!  A whole slew of things can be composted, but never, EVER put any dairy, meat, fish, or anything fatty into your Compost bin – it’ll stink and attract critters.  We had some leftover kitchen scraps from dinner last night, so that’s what we used.  Maggie monitoring is optional:


Step 7: Be sure to give your dirt a stir or else you’ll get a whole slew of Fruit Flies which we all know are the biggest pains in the arses!  You can actually use the same technique that we used to trap them (the vinegar trap) and place it inside the bin if it becomes a problem.  Also, give your compost just a little squirt of water (not too much) so that it feels like a “wrung out sponge”:


Step 8: Put the lid on top and if you’re worried about critters (like I am), then just put a few heavy planters on top to (hopefully) keep them away.  Then stash your compost in a shady spot in your yard, out of direct sunlight, and away from the house.  Once the hubs gets home this evening, we will be moving it to the Northeast corner of the yard where it’s a little out of the way:


So there ya have it!  An (almost) free Compost Bin!  Since it is called a “Worm Bin”, we are now on the hunt for a few willing worms (which can be found locally through some internet sleuthing).  I’m sure we will update with that disgusting bit of trivia when we get the opportunity ;-).  Until then, we’re still cooking and keeping scraps stored in a bag in the refrigerator until we can find a suitable Compost Pail.

Ok, our experiment begins!  And since we only spent $6 on the whole thing, I don’t feel the least bit bad about potentially screwing the whole thing up!  Wish us luck and we will give you updates as they become available!


32 thoughts on “Blog Action Day 2009, Part 2 (or how to Make your own Compost Bin)

  1. I once saw Martha Stewart demonstrating a DIY compost bin, done exactly like yours–she suggesting getting something called “red wiggler worms” from a bait store to use in the bin–supposedly very inexpensive. Also, every couple of weeks, she added more newspaper scraps and also cedar chips or shavings to keep down the fruit flies. Great job, kids!

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  5. Cool compost bin! We got a kitchen compost bucket for a wedding gift and have been so inundated with house projects that we haven’t started to compost yet. Perhaps I should fish the big old watermelon rind I threw in the trash yesterday and start a bin of our own.

    • Hi, Beehive!

      Thanks for stopping by! I say go for it! Composting takes a bit of babysitting, but it’s really not that difficult. We’re still fine-tuning our process and were blessed with a pretty mild winter this year so starting the bin in October and then throwing in our food scraps as we had time really gave it enough time to fully “digest” if you know what I’m sayin’! Hopefully I gave you a wee bit of confidence to give it a shot! As I said, ’tis the season…. 🙂


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  9. I just happened upon this article and was curious as to hope this bin worked out for you? I am hoping to start one of my own and would like to know if this proved to be an effective idea😊

    • Hello, kassiek! We used this Compost bin for several years and LOVED it! It worked infinitely better once we went to the Farmer’s Market and purchased red wiggler worms (you can probably find them at a bait shop too). They devour the food scraps in no time flat. In fact, we had a hard time keeping up with them after awhile and they started to leave the bin. Totally harmless, of course. They improve the soil quality around them so if they get out, they just dig into the ground and aerate the soil, which just makes everything look better and better. Hope this helps!

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  22. Thank you for the wonderful how-to. I found it while looking at options for making a compost bin, and ended up poking around your blog for a bit. Even though you haven’t updated it in years, it still holds some great DIY information.

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  24. What type of dirt did you add? I have a nice compost bin on my kitchen counter thats filling up, so I need to give this bin a try! Thanks, Michelle

  25. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just created our compost bin following the directions on this post. The kids and I had lots of fun making it 🙂

  26. My boys (12 & 4) and I are going to make one of these this afternoon. And then we are going on a worm hunt in the woods. We have never composted before but have a lot of old leaves to use for the base. They are excited about this little project. Thanks for the insight.

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  29. How long does it take for the produce/leaf/soil mixture to compost so it can be used? Can you add to it as it is being used? Can you mix fresh vegie scraps directly in your garden? Thanks!

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