Who doesn’t want a lush garden without having to spend a lot of money on fertilizers? Composting is a very good way to make your own fertilizer.
Composting also helps cut down the carbon footprint that each of us leave. Aside from providing you a good source of fertilizer, it also gives you the peace of mind of being able to do something for the environment.
If you want to achieve these right in the comfort of your home, let’s make your own DIY compost bins. With the hundreds of compost bins on the market, it can be overwhelming what to choose.
I don’t call myself a composting expert but I have adequate information regarding DIY compost bins that I would like to share with you.
Aside from that, most of the materials used in these compost bins are recycled plastic. While we know that recycling plastic helps in cutting down energy and resource expense, it still contributes to global warming.
I have always been passionate about teaching people on green living and one of the first steps you need to take is composting.
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Here are a few tips on how to make a DIY compost bin right in your backyard, even if you are living in the city.
Composting in the Urban Backyard
Making your DIY compost bins in the backyard is so easy. No need to fret, there are very simple ways to make a compost bin without so much as breaking a sweat.
Choosing The Corner You Want To Do Your DIY Composting
The first step to successful composting is site selection. Find a corner that is accessible for throwing your composts but out of the way. You don’t want your compost bin to greet your guests as you tour your backyard.
If your backyard is small, the best spot is the corner nearest to your kitchen back door. This will encourage other members of the family to keep up with composting since it is accessible to them.
Choosing The DIY Compost Bin Material That Works Best For You
When choosing a DIY compost bin, you can always start with materials that are available like scrap wood, wire screens or broken pails.
Fruit crates are a good way to start with DIY composting. You can cover it up with scrap wire pr PE screens so rodents can get into it. You can easily conceal the fruit crate bins by lining some potted plants in front of the crates.
Wire screens can also be used. Wrap it around to form a cylinder, loop the wires where the screen overlapped to keep it in form. You can fit a floor to it by cutting a piece of wire screen and sticking it to one end. Loop the edge of the wire screen to the floor so it is stable.
A good size would have a diameter of at least 30 cm in diameter and 45cm in height. This is a good way of composting since it makes it easier to harvest the humus.
Wood scraps are also a good choice for some DIY compost bins. If you have longer ones, this can be made so it has at least 2 compartments so you can rotate your composting between these compartments.
Fashion it so it looks like a picket fence, keeping the slats on the wall and floor close enough to protect it from rodents.
You can also make a wooden frame for a rectangular frame, add a floor and wrap the frame with a wire screen. Either way, these are good enough for keeping the decomposing garbage in while allowing you the ease to drop in new ones.
A broken pail can go a long way if you put a few holes in it to provide ventilation for the decomposing garbage.
Setting Up Your DIY Compost Bin
Work your garden around your compost bin. It should be foremost in your mind so you have easy access to fertilizer within the garden area. The corner spot makes this idea very plausible as you can easily dump your leaves and wilted parts of your plants directly into your compost bin.
Weeds may be added into the compost pit as long as the roots and seeds were removed. You don’t want to spread the same weeds in the area that you have painstakingly weeded out.
If you have considerable space to set up your DIY compost bin, it would be nice to set up something that can be used rotationally. This will allow the contents of one bin to decompose properly while you fill the other with new compost materials.
Keeping Your DIY Compost Bin in Tiptop Condition
Keep it Well-drained
A water-logged composting area can lower the decomposing capacity of your bins. Dig a small small drainage canal at least towards the back of your compost bin, especially if it is not on a platform.
Put up a Shed
Install a small shed to keep it from being too wet during the rainy or snowy days. If you are trying to compost whole year round, it would be a bit tricky during the winter months.
The shed should have a removable pedestal at least 1 foot high to keep it from the ground during the winter months. It can be slid off during the rest of the year as the warmth from the ground hastens the decomposing process.
Keep it Warm but Ventilated
Keep the bins covered all the time to keep the compost bin warm. The warmth keeps the micro bacteria present in the garbage working well. But allow some air into it for the same purpose, unless you are working with anaerobic bacteria.
Keep it Moist
Keeping the decomposing garbage moist is also a good way to hasten the process. Sprinkle it with water at least once a week. A good gauge of the moisture is the water vapors on the cover when you open it.
The cover should be wet enough. When it becomes dry or only a portion of the cover is wet, it is best to sprinkle some water into the compost bin.
Composting in the Apartment Complex
Composting in the city is hard if you don’t strategize. If you are living in an apartment complex, your best bet for a workable space is the space in the back door or in the hallway. Unless you are at the farthest end of the complex, you probably aren’t allowed to set up a compost bin.
Check out this short video for some ideas on how to compost in a small apartment.
Finding the Right Spot
This is the tricky part. If you are lucky enough to have a small back porch, you can easily fit a few small containers to hold your decomposing garbage.
If there is no back porch, a kitchen corner may be an option although the ambient temperature inside the house if the A/C is on may not be very optimum for composting.
Another option is the corner of the laundry area or the bathroom. However, just as in the kitchen corner, it can be too dim or too cool for any composting to happen.
The next best thing to the back porch is the hallway, especially if it is an open one. You can disguise the compost bin by putting a potted plant into the bin. Be sure to have enough hay or sawdust to cover the new materials for composting.
Newer apartment complexes had an assigned green area where you can assemble some potted plants for urban gardening. This is a good spot to set up your compost bin.
Making a Workable Compost Bin
When composting in an apartment complex, you have very limited options. A two-gallon pail or garbage can may work for this purpose. Add a few holes on the upper portion to allow some air in.
Another option are terracotta pots. Place an old plate or terracotta basin under the pot to catch the drippings from the decomposing garbage. Arrange a few pebbles in the basin or plate to hold the pot up.
This way the drippings don’t mess up the pot. The drippings can be used as foliar fertilizer so don’t throw it out.
You can also consider buying countertop compost bins. Be sure to check the reviews so you won’t feel robbed when they don’t deliver what was promised in the product description.
However, it is best to have a bigger compost bin outside where you can dump 2-3 days worth of kitchen waste you collected in the countertop compost bins.
One way to keep your compost to fit in small compost bins is to cut them up, especially the harder stems of vegetables.
Keeping the Flies and Rodents Out
Another issue that you should consider is keeping the flies and rodents out. You don’t want these gross creatures to sit with you while you are preparing your food.
The neighbors might not be comfortable with some uninvited guests. Be careful to keep out fish entrails or any flesh food, cooked or uncooked, in the indoor compost bins. These are open invitations to rodents and flies.
Another is adding some nightcrawler earthworms in your compost bins. Fruit flies may be present but the bigger flies will not be attracted to your compost bin.
I have tried this at home and it works very well. The nightcrawler earthworms do a very good job to keep out odor and flies.
Be sure to keep some decomposed or decomposing materials in the bin where you keep earthworms. This will serve as their food so they don’t migrate. Keep the bin moist also and keep it warm by keeping a lid on.
Keeping the Odor in Check
Another pressing concern of composting in the city is the odor. One way is to pack some wood charcoal in a piece of cheesecloth and hang it on the inside of the lid.
Two to three pieces should do the trick. Change it at least every two weeks.
Another way is hanging a small bag of baking soda on the inside of the lid. A few tablespoons of baking soda wrapped in a piece of cheesecloth can eliminate the odor for a couple of weeks.
Don’t throw the discarded baking soda you used in the compost bin. Sprinkle some of this to your humus to make it less acidic.
Composting in the city can be challenging but it is a good way to keep you in touch with nature. Knowing that you have the power to grow your food right out of your doorsteps is a very liberating feeling.
Setting up a good DIY compost bin needs a bit of planning and strategizing but it’s all worth the effort. The internet has a myriad of ideas you can get inspiration from.
Choose to be proactive in your waste management and the best way to do it is through composting.
A Few Final Thoughts
Please feel free to share with us your experience, comments or insights in composting in the city. I will be very happy to answer them according to my knowledge and personal experience.
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All the best,