Make a Compost Bin from a Trash Can

Learn how burying a metal garbage can will help make a compost bin that is safe from flies and other small critters.

  • 041-038-01
    Bury a metal trash can to create a composter that is safe from bugs and rodents.

  • 041-038-01

Flies, stray pets, and rats are attracted to compost piles like mosquitoes to murky water . . . especially when the rotting heap in question contains raw garbage. Fortunately, we've never had a rat problem, but we used to be troubled by all other kinds of pests whenever we put kitchen wastes on our compost pile.

The heap itself consisted mainly of dried vegetation and aged manure that'd been run through our shredder-grinder to speed decomposition. And these wastes—alone—didn't draw many pests. Any time we put fresh garbage on the mound, however, we soon saw our backyard invaded by cats, dogs, and flies ... and the vastly increased "earthy" smell wrinkled our neighbors' noses.

At first, we attempted to remedy the situation by putting a fence around the compost pile. This discouraged a few of the smaller dogs in the neighborhood ... but it did nothing to eliminate the other pests (let alone the pungent odor).

We also tried burying the garbage in the pile ... a technique that took care of the flies, cats, and wrinkled noses (and all but the hungriest hounds). I wasn't fond of having to dig into the compost every time I wanted to dump my garbage, though, and the fence we'd erected earlier didn't make my shoveling any easier.

And then we visited my husband's Uncle Byron (who happens to be an avid organic gardener with more years of experience than I have fingers and toes). And Uncle Byron showed us how he turned garbage into fertilizer without attracting vermin: He simply loaded his refuse into either of two bottomless galvanized-steel trash cans which he'd buried upright in the ground (only the tops of the cans were visible).

"All I have to do is put my garbage in one trash can until it begins to fill up," Uncle Byron explained, "which usually takes a few months. Then I start putting garbage in the second barrel. By the time that container's full, the material in the first can has been converted to compost and is ready to be used in the garden."

5/10/2016 6:22:09 PM

Love this idea! Would it be okay to use a large plastic trash can?? Thanks!



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters