Country Lore: A Better Compost Bin

This reader found handy compost barrels that are easy to move and attractive.


These compost barrels are easier to use and more attractive than this reader's previous compost bin.


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My 4-by-4-foot open, wooden compost bin worked well for years, but the compost material was heavy to turn. When we rescued a dog from the local animal shelter and discovered that she liked to dig into the compost bin, we knew we needed a more secure compost system.

I discovered these 22-gallon barrels, with holes in the sides and lids, at the hardware store and purchased two. I feel as if I have built a better mousetrap. I throw kitchen scraps — along with leaves, wood chips, lawn clippings and soil — into the barrels. Last summer, I made 12 bins of compost (about 260 gallons).

The bins sit in the sun and “cook” fast, breaking down the organic material; the holes provide necessary aeration; the barrels are easily moved around the garden on a trolley or handcart; and rain can get in through the holes in the lids. I also drilled several drainage holes in the bottoms for the excess fluid to escape, and put the bins on bricks to keep them from sinking into the ground. In winter, I move them close to the house.

These compost barrels are ideal for a family that generates small amounts of garbage. They are compact, rodent- and dog-proof and not unsightly even in the smallest.