Small Homemade Compost Bins

A portable mini-composter built from scrap lumber can be easily sized for single-member households.


| February/March 2016


I’ve been developing my off-grid homestead for four years, but I’ve wrestled with what to do for a compost bin. Because I’m the only person who lives here, I didn’t want to tackle plans for bins that would be way too big for my one-person household. Plus, I didn’t want to purchase anything.

This spring, I started using a mini-bin that I built of scrap lumber. My homemade compost bin is 18 inches wide by 36 inches long, and it has a removable metal screen on top to deter mice and flies. It works even better than I had hoped!

I dedicate this bin to kitchen scraps, including eggshells, tea and coffee, along with spoiled vegetables. I’ve moved my bin around the garden four times this year to spread the organic goodness, and I’m going to store the bin in my greenhouse during winter. I figure the greenhouse will be warm enough to encourage the waste to break down rather than freeze solid. The only downside to this system is that I’m sacrificing a few square feet of garden and greenhouse area, but I’ve decided it’s well worth it.

Jeffrey R. Wasilowski
Carson, New Mexico

RussellMorris
1/4/2018 7:31:26 PM

I have found that the simplest and best way to compost kitchen and garden scraps is to simply dig a hole about a foot square, as deeply as possible into a garden bed. (or anywhere in the garden), and then simply keep dumping all the kitchen waste and other green waste into it. If you have a bigger volume of garden waste, you simply need a bigger hole. Mine is a little less than 3 feet deep. I cannot go deeper as I hit bedrock. I do not cover it, or line it. It is simply a hole in the dirt. My garden was very infertile, shaly rock with almost no topsoil or organic matter at all. If flies are a problem, simply place some kind of cover over it. (In my area, we have black soldier flies which never bother anyone, and whose lavae not only devour everything very quickly, but tend to outcompete almost all other flies., so I deliberately don't cover the hole). It is amazing how quickly this pile of waste material settles as it decomposes, It literally takes months to reach even half full..............and forever to actually fill up. But when it does eventually start to fill up, I simply dig another hole next to it, and fill the hole with the dirt from the new hole, removing the rocks as I go. As I dig holes along the garden bed in succession, over the years I have created the most amazingly rich soil where almost nothing would grow before. When you have reached the end of your garden bed, or patch of ground, simply redig another hole where you originally started. When you redig the first hole, the difference between the barren native soil, and the new soil that has built up around the old hole is amazing!! It is rich, full of worms and other critters that have moved in, soaks up water like a sponge, and is interwoven with roots from surrounding plants that have taken advantage of the readily available nutrients. It is a rich oasis of fertility in a barren wasteland. To use my old man's favourite expression........ You could plant 6 iinch nails and grow crowbars in it!!! This total soil makeover was achieved at zero cost, and only the effort of digging a hole once every several months. No more than two or three hours work a year. No other method that I know of can so efficiently get those nutrients so deeply into the soil and transform not only the surface layers, but the deep profile of the whole garden bed. I even throw biodegradable cotton clothes. towels, etc. into the hole. Almost nothing non-synthetic ever goes into my rubbish bin, it all ends up in my compost hole. But a few years later when you redig the hole, there is absolutely no sign of anything, except a couple of spoons that had inadvertently been dumped into the hole with the kitchen waste. Still like new, and now returned to the cutlery drawer where they belong!!


RussellMorris
1/4/2018 7:04:25 PM

I have found that the simplest and best way to compost kitchen and garden scraps is to simply dig a hole about a foot square, as deeply as possible into a garden bed. (or anywhere in the garden), and then simply keep dumping all the kitchen waste and other green waste into it. If you have a bigger volume of garden waste, you simply need a bigger hole. Mine is a little less than 3 feet deep. I cannot go deeper as I hit bedrock. I do not cover it, or line it. It is simply a hole in the dirt. My garden was very infertile, shaly rock with almost no topsoil or organic matter at all. If flies are a problem, simply place some kind of cover over it. (In my area, we have black soldier flies which never bother anyone, and whose lavae not only devour everything very quickly, but tend to outcompete almost all other flies., so I deliberately don't cover the hole). It is amazing how quickly this pile of waste material settles as it decomposes, It literally takes months to reach even half full..............and forever to actually fill up. But when it does eventually start to fill up, I simply dig another hole next to it, and fill the hole with the dirt from the new hole, removing the rocks as I go. As I dig holes along the garden bed in succession, over the years I have created the most amazingly rich soil where almost nothing would grow before. When you have reached the end of your garden bed, or patch of ground, simply redig another hole where you originally started. When you redig the first hole, the difference between the barren native soil, and the new soil that has built up around the old hole is amazing!! It is rich, full of worms and other critters that have moved in, soaks up water like a sponge, and is interwoven with roots from surrounding plants that have taken advantage of the readily available nutrients. It is a rich oasis of fertility in a barren wasteland. To use my old man's favourite expression........ You could plant 6 iinch nails and grow crowbars in it!!! This total soil makeover was achieved at zero cost, and only the effort of digging a hole once every several months. No more than two or three hours work a year. No other method that I know of can so efficiently get those nutrients so deeply into the soil and transform not only the surface layers, but the deep profile of the whole garden bed. I even throw biodegradable cotton clothes. towels, etc. into the hole. Almost nothing non-synthetic ever goes into my rubbish bin, it all ends up in my compost hole. But a few years later when you redig the hole, there is absolutely no sign of anything, except a couple of spoons that had inadvertently been dumped into the hole with the kitchen waste. Still like new, and now returned to the cutlery drawer where they belong!!


RussellMorris
1/4/2018 7:04:23 PM

For a small scale houshold green waste composter, I have found that there is no need for any kind of container. What I do is dig a small hole, about a foot square, as deep as I can in a garden bed. The deeper the better. Then I add all the kitchen and garden green waste into it every day. I just dump it in. I don't cover it at all............. But if flies are a problem, there is no reason you can't make a lid to cover it. It is amazing how quickly this waste breaks down. The material magically settles almost as fast as new material is added. When the hole starts getting fairly full, I simply dig another hole close to the old one, and mound the dirt over the old hole. I only have to do this once every several months. This way I gradually work my way along the bed, turning the soil, and mixing all the compost very deeply as I go. When I get to the end of the bed, I either go back and redig the first hole again, or shift to another bed. Redigging the old hole is is fascinating. There is no sign of the old composted material except for a few eggshell fragments, but the soil is amazingly rich, and you can see how surounding plants have sent roots into the area to soak up all the nutrients. The soil is absolutely alive with worms, and other critters that have moved into this oasis of fertility. This creates the most amazngly rich soil!!... Even though my garden was basically infertile, hydrophobic shaly rock with almost no topsoil to begin with. This is the most efficient, and totally cost free way of recycling those green compostable wastes generated by every household!!!!






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