Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Some time ago I promised a post about a homemade composter, and here it is. We will start with what I had been using as a composter.

I had bought this at Tractor Supply years ago. It is a trash can with holes punched in it.

It doesn't rotate or mix, just basically a passive way to compost. Once I filled this up, I would haul it to a little corner of the yard and dump it in another passive pile.

This pile more or less was the catch-all for yard waste, limbs and table scraps. Limbs don't really compost unless they get shredded so I got a chipper to take care of those now. Anyway that is how everything was going down. With Meghan cooking and eating more vegetables than I did as a bachelor, I needed something faster so we could process more in a shorter period of time. So in comes the big blue barrel. Just like the barrel I used for the rain barrel (which is continually full because I think Seattle moved to Arkansas), 55-gallon with a removable top. I started with some simple math to make a stand (must not have been too simple because I made it a little too short). I screwed together some treated 2x4s at about a 45 degree angle. Then I used a piece to screw them together at the bottom. Grabbed a one and a half inch dowel that was in the garage (although I would recommend getting a piece of metal such as a round fence post or something) and cut a hole in the center of the barrel. You want to make sure that both holes are as close to center as possible so it will be easier to turn.

Then I spent a good half hour randomly drilling holes in the barrel to allow for easy airflow. I put holes in the lid, but not in the bottom so I could better control the moisture. If I don't want anymore water, I can turn it upside down and it will not collect as much rain. This also lets any extra moisture drain out. This brings me back to the "I didn't build it tall enough." Allow extra space underneath so that you can put a pan or something to catch the draining water because this is the ever popular compost tea that is great for plants inside or out. Here is the finished barrel. I put it in the front of my house to the side because it will eventually drive my neighbors crazy.

I filled this up with mainly grass clippings a month or so ago and here is a photo of what it looks like now. For a while, I turned it a few times when I left for work and a few times when I got home. This is the biggest advantage to this type of composter, you just grab it and spin it a time or two to add in the air it needs to stay active.

As you can see it has composted down to less than half (that is the support pole through the middle) of what it started. As always if you have any questions, comments or the like let us know and we will try our best to help.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much!!! I'm so excited to do this. I bought a barrel today that has a ring lid. I'll call you later!!