Small Homemade Compost Bins

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

| February/March 2016

Compost Bin

This homemade compost bin is lightweight and portable, which makes it easy to move around a garden.

Photo by Jeffrey R. Wasilowski

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

1/22/2016 6:57:14 PM

HI, stupid question but how do you use it? Bins I have seen, you have to either have a 2-3 section one to move the stuff and aerate or you have a movable one, where you move the bin and then put the stuff in it. I like the idea of a smaller one, but I don't want to have to keep turning it all the time.

1/22/2016 11:54:34 AM

I use old shopping carts for some of my composting. I have accumulated about 20 so I will fill half of them with this years grass clippings and other compostable stuff. The Next year I plant peas in those carts then the third year they are ready to use on the garden. By rotating them I always have 10 ready to use and 10 working and getting ready to use the following year. Of course this only works in the country where you don't have to worry about the neighbors complaining about the appearance of your property. Something the author of the article might consider is using a barrel for his compost. There was an article in Mother about homemade barrel composters awhile back.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!