Make a Compost Bin from a Trash Can

Bury a metal garbage can to use as a compost bin that is safe from flies and small critters.

| September/October 1976

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!

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