Organic Garbage Disposal: Build a Compost Container

Getting rid of kitchen waste can be a simple, effective, and inexpensive process, with the clay tile compost container described here.

  • 069 compost container 2 removing compost
    The author and his son remove material from one of two compost containers. The finished compost is dry, crumbly, and odorless.
  • 069 compost container 1 pipe
    A drainage tile half buried in the ground, with a firm bottom and a secure top, makes a very good compost container.
  • 069 compost container - diagram
    Diagram show method of making a drainage tile compost container and a wooden lid.

  • 069 compost container 2 removing compost
  • 069 compost container 1 pipe
  • 069 compost container - diagram

Even if you're not especially skilled at home projects, you can make and install—in half a day—an organic garbage disposal unit that uses no power, won't clog your septic tank or drainage field, costs under $20, and turns out a useful product.

It seems our household always produces some kitchen waste that we can't feed to the chickens, barn cats, or pigs. But when we tried burying the "leftover leftovers" out in the garden, some varmint would always dig them up. Nor was burning the garbage an option; it caused our oil-drum incinerator to clog up.

Fortunately, I recalled an article about composting that I'd read back in the 40's. The piece had described a homemade compost container made from an 18"-diameter clay drain tile, three-fourths buried in the ground, with a top and bottom added. That article's author said he ran his disposal on earthworms, but—since our animals consume all of our scraps except for eggshells, citrus and banana peels, and small bones—the useful wigglers haven't (yet!) been lured into my version.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: You may be able to attract worms and speed up the decaying process by layering your kitchen garbage with an equal mix of freshly cut green plants and chopped dried leaves, a handful of blood meal (available from most garden centers), and a thin coating of soil. And  by sprinkling a little water over it occasionally.]  

In practice, we have two tile composters. It takes about a year to fill one, at which time we simply switch to the other. Then, when the second one is full, the contents of the first have decomposed into a rich humus and are ready to be emptied on our garden plot.

How to Build It

The initial step in constructing a homestead garbage disposal is to locate an 18" diameter clay drainage tile. The units can be found at building supply yards where bricks, cement blocks, and such are sold (if you plan to put a brick bottom in your disposal, you can buy the materials to do so at the same time).

6/27/2007 10:12:46 PM

The hot, humid climate in MS makes for great composting, but we do have insect issues--particularly fire ants. Will this device keep them out?

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