Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

The following 101, on crafting a homemade compost bin from a trash can, comes from HOMEGROWN member and Tennessee gal Jessi. Thanks so much, Jessi, and please keep the good ideas rolling!

Since we live in a rental house, I wanted to make a compost bin that I could easily move when we do. After looking at the expensive plastic-barrel-style models, I chose to make a compost bin out of a trash can and saved myself about $100. To mix the compost, I simply roll the can around for a couple of minutes. (Like most standard trash cans, the lid locks into place just above the handles. I roll fairly gently, and so far it hasn't come off.)


In order to turn the ordinary trash can into a compost bin, all I had to do was drill holes in the bottom and sides of the can. (As always, when composting, aeration is your friend!) I placed the can on bricks to allow drainage from the bottom. So far, the setup is working great. Where before I was amazed at how much produce our household was wasting, now I'm shopping more often and buying less at a time.



» a trash can with a tight-fitting lid

» a drill

» bricks, to set the bin on



1) Drill holes in the bottom and sides of the can.

2) Place the can on bricks, allowing it to drain from the bottom.

3) Roll the can to mix your compost. That's it! Couldn't be easier—or cheaper.



• HOMEGROWN member Radishgirl Thymes illustrates how she made an open-air compost pile from old pallets.

• Heidi shares tips and photos of how she converted a nontumbling bin into a tumbler.

• The University of Missouri Extension Office has put together a bang-up guide on building a compost bin.

• And Treehugger shares three more DIY compost bin designs in the videos below:



Bin there, done that, and got another bin design to show for your efforts? Post comments and questions below and keep the conversation—yep—rolling. For related how-tos, don't miss the Composting 101 and the Compost Tea 101. And you can always find more things to make, craft, cook, preserve, plant, grow, and tumble in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.





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I made one of these two seasons ago and have had great success with it. I actually don't put it up on bricks and it seems to be quite the wintertime worm resort. Just the other day I went to give it a tumble (while manually turning my earth machine) and found a gazillion baby earthworms. Sweet worm poop fertilizer!!

I made one this yr, just put holes in the side, not the bottom, I stir it up with a small garden trowel, and it is going nicely. No worms I can see, but a lot of little buggies. it's amazing how much stuff you put in it, and it just keeps reducing down! My trash can is definitely not as full on trash day anymore, which is great! If our city ever goes to pay as you throw, this will save me quite a bit of money, plus I am going to put my "profit into my little raised bed garden come fall so the soil will be nice and rich for next year!


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