How to Make a Compost Bin From a Plastic Storage Container
Do You Have a Small Garden?
What do you do? You have a small garden, or perhaps a variety of pots, and you want to make your own compost, but you simply don’t have the room in your yard for a compost bin. Heck, maybe you don’t even have a yard.
What do you do?
Make a compost bin using a plastic storage container. It really is the perfect solution when space is at a premium, and especially for those weekend gardeners who only need a little bit of compost to help their vegetables or flowers.
This is such an easy project, and it can literally be done within an hour using only a drill or knife….and of course the plastic container.
What Do You Need?
Take a look at this list; I think you will agree this is very doable:
- Plastic container (minimum 18 gallons)
- Drill or knife (bit size is unimportant)
- Preferably two lids for the container
You can, of course, purchase a plastic storage container from a store; Home Depot, Office Depot, heck, practically any multi-purpose store will carry them. However, we believe in living simply and not spending money if we don’t have to, so we pick up our storage containers at garage sales for pennies on the dollar.
If you look in your garage, chances are you already have a container that you can use.
The drill or knife is for drilling holes in the plastic. If you have neither, get creative and punch holes using a screwdriver and a hammer.
Getting the Bin Ready
Compost needs air circulation, so lots of holes are needed in the container. I have found smaller holes work better because they prevent compost from oozing out. Simply drill or punch holes along the sides, on the bottom, and on the lid. Holes can be 1½ to 2 inches apart.
If you want to protect against that ooze, then you can line the inside of the container with wire mesh or hardware cloth.
If you have a second lid, place that on the bottom, facing upwards, and then set the container on top of it so that what ooze you do have will drip into the upturned lid underneath.
Location, Location, Location
The beauty of using a plastic container for composting is that it takes up very little room, so it can be placed just about anywhere. However, if you want to make it easy for you, place it near your kitchen door so you can toss food scraps into it after meals.
You might also choose to place it near your garden to take advantage of those times when you are weeding.
Some people have placed them in garages, but this writer would suggest against that, simply because there may be some unpleasant smells in the garage after a couple weeks of composting.
Making Your Compost
Compost is made of biodegradable material—and preferably small pieces of such matter—so you can fill your bin with leaves, weeds, fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, grass clippings, and even egg shells.
When adding material to the bin, remember that smaller is better, since small items break down much faster. Crush the eggs shells, slice and dice the vegetables and fruits, and if possible, shred the leaves using your lawn mower.
Let Nature Do Its Thing
Some people also add dirt from time to time; it is not necessary, but it does help to a certain extent. As you continue to add items into the bin, make sure that the compost isn’t getting too wet, because then you will start experiencing that unpleasant smell I mentioned.
If it does become too wet, then just add more leaves or even shredded newspaper to the mix. Conversely, if it remains too dry, then add some water to the mix.
The only other thing you need to do for maintenance is give the bin a shake every day or so to keep the aeration proceeding smoothly.
Add Worms for Better Efficiency
How do you feel about worms? A little grossed out by nature’s natural composters? Well, if you can handle it, why not collect worms and add them to your compost. Those little buggers will do the job for you in half the time, and you don’t have to buy worm food to keep them happy!
Take some newspaper, put it on the ground in your yard, preferably on dirt, and wet the newspaper. Come back in the morning and collect your worms and add them to your compost bin. It’s that simple!
Are You a Composter?
Do you currently make your own compost?
The Benefits of Composting
Now that you know how easy it is, the question to ask is why more people don’t do it? Composting amends your soil, giving it much-needed nutrients so that your growing season is successful. A garden, after all, is only as healthy as the soil, and the soil is only healthy when it has humus in it.
With the proper amount of humus, your soil will become a growing factory, as nature intended it to be. There is no need to go shopping for soil additives when nature has provided a workable process that is so very simple.
Get started on that compost bin today, and in six to eight weeks you will be reaping the rewards and your garden will thank you!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
If you use worms in your compost, won't it get too hot for them in the plastic bin, when the temperature reaches 100 degrees or more? Even if the bin is in the shade, will it get too hot for them?
It can, yes... temperature control is pretty important.Helpful 28
I live in Wisconsin where winters get pretty cold. What do I do with my compost bin in winter?
Keep it in the garage if you have one, or in the basement, anywhere where the temperature is not so extreme.Helpful 15
If you keep adding new material, when do you decide to stop to let your compost bin get to useable compost? Do I need two compost bins to rotate between?
You remove it when it becomes dark brown "soil." Two works better for sure, but the answer is the same....dark brown means remove.Helpful 9
My plastic bin, which I won in a raffle, is about 4 1/2 feet tall and 2x2 wide/deep. It’s not possible to shake it or move it. I try to layer greens and kitchen scraps with dry organic materials. We found after a year or 2 that things are not decomposing. Eggs shells were about the same. I think there may not be enough moisture or air. What should I do?
Honestly, it is too big to get the results you want and need. There has to be a way to mix the stuff up, and for air to circulate through it. Either somehow attach handles to it so you can somehow tilt it periodically, or transfer everything in it into two or three smaller containers.Helpful 11
I was wondering if BBQ char from a grill is good to compost?
There are chemicals in that substance and that, to me, defeats the purpose of a compost bin. If it were just burnt wood, I would say yes, immediately, but I don't trust manufactured items like that.Helpful 10
© 2012 Bill Holland