Ask a Question forum: Homemade compost bin

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Austin, TX
Ablack1313
Feb 21, 2017 6:06 PM CST
Hi,

I am new to gardening and composting. I have BPA free 5 gallon water jug. Rather than recycle I was thinking I could drill some holes in it and use it as a compost bin. I cannot seem to find anyone who has done this on Google so I thought I'd ask here to see if there is a reason why I should not do this? Any help/advice is much appreciated!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Feb 21, 2017 6:22 PM CST
Compost is much easier to handle in larger quantities, but I think your idea might make an interesting experiment.
Porkpal
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 21, 2017 6:32 PM CST
In my experience...for what it's worth...there will not be enough air circulation doing it that way. As a matter of fact I just was gifted a bin full of compost. It was a large plastic storage bin with lid. Holes had been drilled on all sides, top and bottom, yet the lowest layer of compost material was going anaerobic.

I bought one of these when it was half price. It does a very bad job of making compost. The only way to turn the compost is to lift the entire bin, move it to a different location, turn the compost and put it all back inside.
Thumb of 2017-02-22/greene/ee25ab

Much easier to just take a piece of wire fence and curve it into a circle. Or throw 4 wood pallets together to form a square bin.

The compost needs to be turned so keep in mind...how will you accomplish turning the compost in whatever design you choose.

This is the rather unsightly but very successful pallet compost system at my friend Jane's garden.
Thumb of 2017-02-22/greene/168b86 Thumb of 2017-02-22/greene/236153

Edited to add something.
My friend PlantSister lives in Thailand where it's very hot and humid. She can make compost using rice bags. Add your materials, add a bit of garden soil, water and don't forget to poke several holes in the bottom of the bag. Set in a semi-shady location and the compost cooks fairly quickly.

Thumb of 2017-02-22/greene/5beaad

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Feb 21, 2017 6:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 21, 2017 6:39 PM CST
My thought was that it is too small and wouldn't heat up enough, that's basically the size of a large bucket, so I checked and found this reference for size from the University of Illinois Extension:

"The recommended size for a home compost pile is no smaller than 3 feet X 3 feet X 3 feet, and no larger than 5 feet X 5 feet X 5 feet. A smaller pile may not heat up high enough for efficient breakdown, or it may loose heat and quickly slow down the process......."

https://web.extension.illinois...
Name: Liz Shaw
Gilbert, AZ (Sunset Zone 13) (Zone 9a)
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LizDTM
Feb 21, 2017 6:44 PM CST
Check with your city. A lot of places here in Arizona are giving away compost bins. It decreases the amount of landfill they need. I got mine free. Hurray!
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
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McCannon
Feb 21, 2017 6:45 PM CST
Ablack, I don't know where you live but you can usually find food-grade plastic drums, with removable lids, for around $10-$20. They come in various sizes starting around 10 gallons and up. Some people just roll them around the yard to turn the stuff inside. The biggest not-so-secret secret is to get the right ratio of nitrogen (green stuff) to carbon (brown stuff). It keeps the microbes happy. Google will tell you everything you need to know about that subject. The system Greene mentioned works best if you have a lot of compostable material.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Feb 21, 2017 8:45 PM CST
5 gal bucket is really small for what typically is 'compost'.
What do you plan to put in it- kitchen waste?
Where will you keep it?
Where are you? (alaska-florida..?)
More information needed, but my first answer is no. It will be full in no time, and take months to become useable material.

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Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
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plantcollector
Feb 21, 2017 9:33 PM CST
You could probably use your bucket for vermiculture. 'Worm compost'.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Feb 22, 2017 9:22 PM CST
Welcome to NGA @Ablack1313 .

Where are you located? (Climate can make a big difference in composting.) You can add that info to your profile, which will be helpful for any other questions you may have.

There's a lot of info here about composting in the "Learning Library": https://garden.org/learn/artic...
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Austin, TX
Ablack1313
Feb 23, 2017 6:33 PM CST
Thank you all for the responses! I'm in Austin Texas. I currently live in a rent house so something large and somewhat permanent are not possible. I was thinking of the water jug for 2 reasons... one: I have it already. Two: it seems like it would be easy to roll around to mix. I'm just putting kitchen scraps in it. Vegetables and fruits only. I may just try it and see what happens!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
Deer Bookworm Keeper of Poultry Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Georgia
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greene
Feb 23, 2017 6:39 PM CST
Ablack1313 said:...kitchen scraps in it. Vegetables and fruits only...


Can you add a few handfuls of garden soil? That might help the process.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Feb 23, 2017 6:59 PM CST
Ablack, I did a little poking around on Google to see what I could find on a 5 gal. compost bin. Not much, but here's a link if you're interested: http://bargainbabe.com/how-to-...
I wouldn't vouch for how well it works.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 23, 2017 7:17 PM CST
I hope you give it a try and let us know how it works.
Porkpal
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Feb 23, 2017 8:05 PM CST
Vegetables and fruit only- that's about 95 percent water. They are going to get stinky, slimy, and have lots of fruit flies/ fungus gnats.
You could try to offset that with something dry and carbon- sawdust? rice hulls from a home brewery supply store?. In common outdoor compost situations, you'd have dry tree leaves, straw, etc. to balance the wet waste.
Also, you'll want to cut any tough parts into small pieces- broccoli stems, orange peels.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

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