Composting is a simple way to benefit the environment and your gardening efforts, as it helps to limit food waste and provide natural fertiliser. Managing the compost in your garden can be a pain, but there are a number of ways to do it more easily.
Of course, if you want to go with an easy setup, you can buy one from a store. But it’s also possible to make your own DIY outdoor compost bin if that’s what you prefer, in this guide we will show you how.
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What is composting and why is it important?
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soils and gardens. And yard waste and food scraps make up 30% of what’s thrown away – that’s a lot! Composting materials allows you to recycle them and regenerate natural resources, rather than sending them to a landfill. But why is it important for this? Essentially, composting recycles natural resources that would otherwise go into a landfill. This will allow us to have a sustainable environment that is also able to create fertiliser and fuel for nature processes.
Where are you able to compost?
Depending on the space you have and your preference, composting can be done indoors or outdoors. The setup for both is different, but with care it’s easy to achieve pretty much the same result. Outdoor composting can be done in two ways: via a pile, or by using a bin instead. It depends on your personal preferences and which you’d rather maintain.
Composting can be done at home or with a bin that can be purchased or constructed if you have limited space. It’s considered the ideal option for people who do not have their own outdoor space.
Here’s how to make your own outdoor compost bin
Outdoor compost piles are a great alternative to outdoor bins. We have plenty of resources that should walk you through the process step-by-step to ensure your land stays productive for years to come. We’re going to talk today about where you can make your own compost bin, which will only take a few simple steps:
Choose a plastic bin with a lid that fits on the top.
Drill 10-12 small holes in the bottom of the bin for aeration.
Put about a quarter of dry leaves or shredded paper in the bin.
Fill the bin halfway with dirt or rubbish.
Add scraps of food and stir to cover the scraps
Moisten the pile well, but not to the point where you’re soaking it and creating a foul stench.
Repeat as necessary and your compost should be garden-ready in somewhere between two and three months
Creating an indoor compost bin is a bit different from creating one for outside.
The steps to creating an indoor compost bin are just as simple. There are two main differences between outdoor and indoor compost bins. The first difference you’ll notice is size as you’ll need a bin with a lid that will fit the space you have available. For example, if you want to store your compost bin under your kitchen sink, then there’s no point in using a large plastic bin that won’t fit there. To make holes in the base & lid for proper aeration, you’ll need to drill little holes with a drill or power tool.
Another important difference between outdoor compost bins and indoor compost bins is that you will need to get a tray for the inside bin to catch any dirt or spills. This isn’t a concern for outdoor bins, because they’re already in a spot you don’t mind getting dirty.
The rest of the steps for your indoor garden are essentially the same. You’ll need to adjust paper or leaf ratios as necessary then you’ll be ready to start composting.
What items can you compost?
There are some important details to know for feeding your compost bin that will make the whole process smoother. Below are some dos and dont’s to get you started. Mixing green and brown ingredients when composting ensures the decomposition is healthy. As a general rule, it’s recommended that there are three parts brown material for every green ingredient.
“Greens” are materials that are high in nitrogen or protein and those which historically tended to heat up the compost pile. Unlike browns, greens actually help microorganisms grow and multiply quickly – and that’s what makes them so important. Green materials include grass clippings, plant trimmings, fruit & vegetable scraps, eggshells etc.
Browns are low-nitrogen materials and the main job of browns in a compost pile is to be food sources for all of the lovely soil-dwelling organisms that will work with the microbes to break down the content for you. It is also important to use brown materials when building a compost heap also as they add bulk and help to filter air through the pile. For browns, consider leaves, twigs, hay and coffee filters. Even lint from a dryer can make a nice natural brown.
What should I put in my compost bin?
By no means should the following items be composted for environmental reasons:
Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt. Scraps such as the leftover meat from roast dinners, fish bones and vegetables scraps. Animal fats and oils, for example the fat which comes off cooking bacon or fresh vegetables.
A complete list can be found on the EPA guidance website. You’re now ready to start your own composting project. Now you have to put in the work by turning your compost pile every week with a pitchfork, paying close attention to how wet it is, and avoiding letting any animal or human feces touch it.