The Q&A Archives: composting unit

Question: can I use a rubbermaid trash can with a lid as a unit to compost in?

Answer: You can use a plastic bin with a lid for composting but you'll want to drill lots of holes in it so moisture can escape and so fresh air will enter. Otherwise you'll end up with a soupy mess rather than moist compost. Here's how to use your trash can for composting:

Punch or drill holes in the trash can. The microbes that actually do the composting need oxygen to do their work.

Chop plant debris into small pieces and place them inside the garbage can. Ideally, you should use 50 percent green material and 50 percent dry, but you can use shredded newspaper for the dry material if necessary. You don't need to fill the can all at one time - just put in the plant material you have on hand.

Spray water over the chopped plant material inside the can, until the material is damp but not soggy.

Put the lid on the can.

Place the filled can on bricks or several 2-by-4-inch pieces of lumber to keep the can off the ground and prevent liquids from collecting at the bottom of the can.

Turn the can as often as daily, or at least once a week. Lay the can on its side and roll it around to mix the plant material inside.

Add more plant material at any time.

Keep the compost about as moist as a wrung-out sponge by spraying it with water when the plant material begins to feel dry.

Harvest your compost after one month. Use a wire screen or piece of chicken wire to strain out the unfinished compost.

Best wishes with your composting project!

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