For a few years, I had been eyeing composting bins for the backyard. I was excited at the thought of turning things that we might normally put into the trash or the garbage disposal into beautiful, rich soil for our garden. I was, however, not excited about the price tags that I was seeing for even the most simple of composting bins.
Since none of our local stores carried composting bins, this also meant that we would be looking at some expensive shipping charges as well. I decided to skip out on a composting bin for a while, even though the reasons for having one sounded so inviting.
Reasons to Compost
· Food and yard waste can be put into the composter, rather than going to the landfill in a plastic bag.
· Soil that is produced is rich in nutrients for your yard (it can be put right onto your grass), garden, or flower beds. It is also much cheaper to make your own compost than to go to the garden store and buy it.
· The soil is a natural fertilizer, and can remove the need to use chemical fertilizers. This is safer for the environment, and can save you money.
· If you have children, it is an excellent educational opportunity for them!
What Can Be Composted?
Not all food and yard wastes can be put into a composting bin. For best results, some of the organic materials to put into your composting bin include:
· Coffee ground and filters
· Fruits and vegetables
· Egg shells
· Grass clipping
· Nut shells
· Shredded newspapers
· Fireplace ashes
Some items not to put into your composting bin include:
· Meat or fish bones
· Yard trimmings that have been treated with chemicals
· Pet waste
· Plants that are diseased (For example, if your garden zucchini plant has had wilt set in, you won’t want to add the plant to your composting bin.)
Be sure to check out the U.S. EPA’s website to read a more extensive listing (including what not to add to your compost bin).
Making Your Own Composting Bin
Frustrated that I couldn’t find a less expensive composting bin, I set out to make my own. This project ran me around $15, and it was completed in less than five minutes.
· Large trash can with lid that locks on
· Platform of some sort (I used a wooden plant stand on wheels)
· Screws (to attach platform to trash can)
· Drill with large drill bit
1. Using your drill, make holes along the sides of your trash can, as well as on the lid and on the bottom of the trash can. Our trash can turned composting bin has approximately 20 – 25 holes total.
2. Again using your drill, attach the platform to the bottom of your bin. Make sure that you do not cover up the holes that you have made on the bottom of the bin. (Or, if you need to, just drill a few more holes in the bottom.) This platform will help to allow drainage from the composting bin, as well as to save the grass underneath your bin.
3. Collect some of the items on the approved list, and start composting!
4. Every couple of days, go out to the yard and put your trash can on its side. Roll it around the yard for a couple of minutes.
5. Add more items from the approved list, as you produce them.
6. When desired, use the rich, dark soil that has been produced!
By the end of summer, we were able to supplement a new portion of our garden with the summer’s worth of “trash” that would have found itself in the landfill, if it hadn’t been for our $15 investment.
Do you compost? Have any composting tips you’d like to share?