As a single income family striving to be self-sufficient, we try to save money without sacrificing quality in every way that we can. We have started using many reusable products, we make our own cleaning supplies, we repurpose items if we can before throwing them out or recycling, we shop second-hand, and we try to make or build needed items ourselves instead of purchasing from a store. DIY-ing out of things that we already own or that we can find for free has saved quite a bit of money and increased our resourcefulness. Today we made a DIY compost bin out of a 5 gallon bucket for our backyard. This bin is the perfect size for my little raised bed garden.
You are obviously dying to play with your scraps and trash just like I was so I will let you in on the steps I took to make it happen! You can also check out the video tutorial a little further down in the post.
DIY Compost Bin Using a 5 Gallon Bucket
DIY Bucket Compost Bin Materials:
- One 5 Gallon Bucket with a tightly fitting lid… You can purchase these at your local farm store.
- Small sticks for drainage
- A Drill and a medium to large sized bit (or hammer and nail)
- Green Materials (Fruit & Veggie scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, etc)
- Brown Materials (Shredded paper, cardboards, dead leaves, cow or horse manure, straw, mulch, etc)
- A trash can or a Stainless Steel Compost Bin
DIY Compost Bin: Step 1
You will want to start this project by drilling holes in the lower half of the bucket & the lid to allow the moisture to drain and evaporate out. If too much moisture hangs out in your compost, it will mold and it won’t be the quality compost that you want on your garden.
I decided to drill 10 holes in the lid, 10 holes in the bottom, and 5 holes on each side. You can also make your holes with a hammer & nail if you prefer.
DIY Compost Bin: Step 2
Place several sticks in the bottom of the bucket to help ensure that the bottom drainage holes don’t get clogged with your compost materials. If you have extra brown materials (like dried leaves) you can add this on top of the sticks.
DIY Compost Bin: Step 3
Now you can dump your scraps, papers, grass, egg shells, or whatever materials that you have saved for composting into the bucket. Make sure that you don’t fill the bucket too full. Air needs to be able to move around the materials for them to properly decompose.
DIY Compost Bin: Step 4
Press the lid on tightly and roll the bucket on the ground. You can enlist little hands for this job. The kids love rolling the compost bucket and being mama’s little helpers!
Roll or shake the bucket again each time you add to your compost pile. This will help to evenly distribute the moisture, organic matter, and heat throughout the bucket to hasten the composting process.
You now have your very own DIY Compost Bin made out of a 5 gallon bucket! After about six weeks, the compost should shrink to about half the volume that it is now. You can then collect the liquid (compost tea) from the compost to pour around plants or you can just mix all of the solid & liquid contents into the soil.
A Little Composting Tip…
It is best to try not to open the compost bucket very often as opening the lid releases the heat. Instead of adding scraps to your bucket daily, you can keep your kitchen scraps and coffee grounds a kitchen compost pail. I use the VREMI Kitchen Compost Pail. It stays in my refrigerator to reduce the likelihood of molding and maggots (ick!).
Happy Composting, y’all!
What Items Can Be Composted?
Green Composting Materials
- Grass clippings
- Fruit & Veggie Scraps
- Egg Shells
- Coffee or Tea Grounds
Brown Composting Materials
- Shredded Paper
- Brown Leaves
- Cow Manure
Green Materials are generally higher in nitrogen content than brown. You want a Carbon:Nitrogen ratio of about 30:1. Since each ingredient will have different carbon & nitrogen levels, it is helpful to refer to a chart (like this one) before adding to your compost pile.
AVOID COMPOSTING THESE ITEMS:
Waste from these animals (especially meat eating animals like dogs & cats) can contain parasites and other microorganisms that you don’t want in your garden.
The sulfur content in charcoal & ashes will make your compost very acidic. If you add highly acidic compost to your garden, you could kill your plants before they even have a chance to grow.
Fats & oils
Fats and oils can add too much moisture to your compost pile.
Meat & Bones
You can add meat to your compost pile, but decomposing meat smells very strongly and can attract rodents and other scavengers to your compost pile.
Onions & Citrus Peels
The acidity in these scraps can kill worms and other microorganisms that work to break your compost down.
This is another one that cane composted, but it increases the risk of scavengers visiting your pile.
Manure from horses & pigs
This one is debatable as many people and business use manure from horses & pigs in their compost. I choose not to use them simply because I have found in tact weed seeds in horse manure (the compost process could kill these seeds, but the risk isn’t worth it to me) and our pigs eat meat so I want to avoid the parasite risk.
If you compost plants that were diseased, you risk transferring the disease to new plants in your garden when you lay the compost down.
Coffee or Tea Bags
These may not decompose well & they might release chemicals as they do start to break down.