Home ImprovementRemodelingCleaningGardeningLandscapingInterior DesignHome AppliancesPest ControlDecks & PatiosSwimming Pools & Hot TubsGaragesBasements

How to Make a Compost Bin From a Plastic Storage Container

Updated on March 29, 2017

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.

An 18-gallon container will do the trick.
An 18-gallon container will do the trick. | Source

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.

Using a smaller container in the kitchen will save trips outside
Using a smaller container in the kitchen will save trips outside | Source

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.

Some items for composting
Some items for composting | Source

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?

See results
A garden with healthy soil thanks to composting
A garden with healthy soil thanks to composting | Source

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!

© 2012 Bill Holland

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Silva, I'm glad to hear you like this idea. It has worked well in the past, and it you get snap lids the raccoons can't get them open no matter how hard they try. :) Good luck!

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 2 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      I love this! I am going to make myself one or two. I have been composting for years but it consisted of throwing vegetable scraps and coffee grounds out directly onto the soil. That didn't work out so well because it drew raccoons. I am going to set these up and place heavy stepping stones on top so the raccoons can't open them!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Milisa, it needs a lid. Sorry about that. :) Plain plastic will do.

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 2 years ago from South Carolina

      After reading this article this morning, I went in the attic and found an extra container. This gave my husband an excuse to use the drill he got for Christmas. The only problem is I don't have a lid for it. Will it work without the lid or do I need to make a lid?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Easy, peasy, Kierstin. Good luck with this. I think you'll find it very simple to do.

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 3 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Nice! I've been really curious about composting and how I can do it in my little apartment. Sharing :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad, Cat! Take care and have a great weekend ahead.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      That's what I was thinking! Thanks a bunch, Billy... 'twas most useful! :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...Cat, you are too funny! Have fun with that rotten food my friend. The perfect Mother's Day activity. :)

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Billy,

      Ooh, I finally made it over here! This is perfect Billy; it's like a "Everything you need to know about composting...101... for idiots" :-)

      Easy to digest and understand. Honestly, one thing I took from this was the implementing of holes... perhaps that would've been obvious but I hadn't thought of it! Excellent hub, gosh, I can't believe how excited I am to get out and play with dirt and rotton food... and I have you to thank!

      Thanks!

      Cat

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rolly, right on! You obviously don't need my help. LOL I love that the fishermen know where to go for the goods.

      Blessings from Olympia,

      bill

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy... found this interesting as composting has been a part of life for the longest while for me. Over the years I have tried many things and what you have here is the best of the best and what I use. The winter months here are hard on the worms so I have a small container I keep in the heated garage. I use newsprint, some veggie tops and potato peelings and use them again the following year. Every fisherman in town is a good friend... no digging just help yourself... PS my tropical fish just love them.

      Hugs from Canada

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rahul! These really are quite easy to make and use.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A scientifically and economically interesting article

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well thank you Robin! It is pretty easy and I'm pretty confident just about anyone could do it. As always, I appreciate you!

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 4 years ago from New York

      This is an easy follow and understandable to a common intellect, so for me, it works. If I were staying in my house and planning a garden, I would follow this guide in a heartbeat. As always, you are creative in finding just the right topics with simple solutions to save money. EXCELLENT!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you changed your picture....gotta go look, be right back. Okay, LOL nope, no green jeans today, but I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. They really are very easy to make and quite practical. Glad you liked it and thank you....love that new picture.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Who would've thought....a plastic bin...perfect solution for small spaces AND the cover keeps the critters out! Another outstanding bit of advice from Farmer Bill! (Are you wearing green jeans?)

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, there are a couple cities in Washington that do the same thing. Thank you!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing. In SF we are provided with this free. We are fined if we put compost with regular garbage.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donnah, thank you! It really is space efficient and I hope it works for you in the future!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doodle, glad to hear it! Good luck with them, and thanks!

    • doodlebugs profile image

      doodlebugs 4 years ago from Southwest

      I just happen to have a bunch of these that I was going to get rid of. I think I'll make a couple of compost bins now. Thanks.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great idea. I had a community garden plot once in a garden that didn't do so well with the community composting. This would have been a space efficient idea to keep my own compost bin going in my little plot. I have pinned it for future reference, as I love to garden when I can. Voted up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well thank you, Barbara Kay! It certainly is much easier and in many ways cleaner. Hope it works for you!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      We have a compost pile, but I have never tried the plastic container. I think I'll give it a try next summer. Thanks for the good information.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Much cheaper, too! Thanks for taking the time to find this one, Terrie! I really appreciate you doing that.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 4 years ago

      We made something similar to this once. I need to do it again. We have some clay areas where things just will not grow without lots of potting soil. This sounds better and more fun than buying bags of soil.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Sasha, you are very welcome! I'm glad this is what you needed, and thank you!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      This is perfect.. just what I was looking for ^_^ Thank you Bill!

      Voting and sharing... as usual ;)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail, I hope it works out for you, and thank you!

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the great idea, Bill! This is something I keep wanting to do, but I do not do it since I live in an apartment. Voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, it can be a problem if the lid is not secure and it is close to the house. We keep ours by the garden about thirty feet from the house, so we have never had that problem. I hope it works out for you in some manner....without the mice of course. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Rich! I never thought of that but it makes good sense. I just might have to do that this weekend and see what I can find. I'm quite familiar with dumpster diving! :)

      As always, thank you my friend. Have a great day in Kentucky!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Bill,

      I would so love to get a compost bin and start composting but my neighbor used to do it and started getting rats/mice in her backyard and one of them entered her house when her backyard door was open. Since then, I am always debating this idea.

      As usual, your idea was simple and in my budget. Have many plastic containers but got to gather some strength against the mice :)

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill - Another good idea. Another good place to get buckets and plastic containers is in the dumpsters of pet stores. A lot of different items they use come in 5 - 10 gallon buckets with locking lids. I used to use them as containers to hold snakes after catching them, and could find them just about any time I needed one. I do recommend washing them thoroughly as some contain chemicals. Great job, my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, I can't imagine what I would do if I weren't writing. You can count on the hubs daily until I drop. :) Thanks buddy and this really is a very simple method of composting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelly, I'm so sorry....damn! Rain barrels are pretty easy to make; if you can find a used food barrel I can teach you how to make it a rain barrel! Deal? Check craigslist or maybe some food processing plants in your area....you need a 55-gallon drum.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Sha, great ideas! We have our wooden compost bin outside by the garden, and we use this portable one until it is full and then we transfer it to the bigger one. Works like a charm!

      Thanks buddy; good luck today with your articles.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alex, we honestly haven't had trouble with animals, but then we have three dogs. An open compost container will for sure attract coons, and I don't have a clue how to prevent it other than to make it coon-proof!

      Thank you and good morning! I'll do a little research on that because now you have me curious.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Great tips to help nature. Recycling compost for those weekend gardeners is a must. Not ready myself for a garden of my own, but I'm already learning with your frugal tips my friend. Have a nice one, and keep on hubbing billy!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Darn it Bill! I just paid like $75.00 for a composting bin! It is absolutely no better than your idea! Carp...I could have spent that on a weeks worth of groceries!

      Ok well how about a rain barrel? I want one of those next and they are about $90.00 around here...! Can you make me one of those?

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Nice job, Bill. My Green Tip #3 illustrates how to make a composter from a plastic garbage can. Because it's bigger, it's hard to move. I have to use a shovel to dig out compost when I need it. That is until a friend of mine made one for me from a 50 gallon steel drum. It has a hinged door and is on rollers so I can turn the compost. I now use my garbage can composter for starting the next batch. Compost is a wonderful thing! It saves money and is a natural recycling mechanism benefiting the earth.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 4 years ago

      I like this idea a lot - and keeping it just outdoors near the kitchen in the winter. Do you find it attracts animals though? If so, do you have any suggestions that might help discourage them?

      As always, your hubs make me smile while getting my brain cells motivated. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Emma, they are so easy you begin to wonder why everyone doesn't do it. I'm glad you liked the idea and best of luck with it. Thank you for the visit; it's good to see you again.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! This was one of those exclusive titles that HP gives to some Hubbers....not my norm but I thought what the heck, I can do that! I appreciate the support buddy; have a great day!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      I like this hub Bill even though I don't have a garden, but I love the way you put it together, and its very useful for those looking for smart ways to put together a compost bin, cool beans bro.

      I like the small joke in it as well, the informative details with wise wording definition and all. Overall it's a great hub!

      Thumbs up and you know the rest budd.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 4 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      I love this idea billybuc! I am lucky enough to have some space for a compost bin, but my husband was thinking of getting another one. Making one would save the space of having a second bin, and we could place it near to the kitchen. I just hate trailing down to the bottom of the garden with my compost scraps, especially in the winter.

      Up and useful :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you are just like clockwork, and I am grateful! Tell your dad hello for me and I hope he likes the suggestion. Thank you Janine!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad Tammy! It really is a very simple process; check it once a day for moisture and shake it. :) Thank you!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Great idea for composting. I used to do it, but now that I live in apartment I can't. That container is small enough to put on my balcony and use in containers. This is so very helpful.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      I am passing this one on to dear old dad Bill, because as I have said before he does the gardening (flowers and vegetables too) around here. He will be able to make total use of this and thank you for sharing. Have of course voted and shared all over as always too!!