Inconspicuous Composting

 Posted by on September 23, 2008  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Sep 232008

We live on an in-town acreage, which basically means that over the last 30 years since our house was built, the land all around us has been “built up.” I have a very strong opinion on this subject, but I won’t go into it, because that’s not the point of this post.

Anyway, our house sits atop a hill, overlooking a new housing development:

So, in the interest of not offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities, we don’t have a traditional compost pile. Instead, we use a blue (trash can-style) recycling bin with a lid. You could also use a lidded trash can. My husband made our bin by drilling half-inch holes all over the sides of the recycling bin. The holes ensure air circulation throughout, which is necessary for the compost to break down. He then drilled a hole in the lid just large enough to accommodate a 2-inch diameter piece of PVC pipe. The pipe should be long enough to extend from the bottom of the bin, through the hole in the lid, with about 6 inches exposed. My husband drilled half-inch holes all over the pipe as well. The pipe allows air to get to the center of the compost. The finished bin looks like this:

You need to stir the compost periodically, and occasionally add some soil to it, which speeds up the decomposition process. This is the best kind of bin to have if you live in an urban/suburban area, because it’s inconspicuous, and animals can’t get into it. We keep ours between our two storage buildings, so it’s hidden from view:

If you purchase new materials to make this bin, the total cost will be around $20. Home Depot sells 32-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck trash cans with lids for about $15, and 2-inch by 10-ft pieces of PVC pipe for less than $5. Our homemade compost bin was actually free, because we had a length of pipe leftover from another project, and the bin was an extra one that was left behind by a rental tenant. In my area, the very cheapest, hoop-style compost bin, without a lid, costs $35.

If you live in a rural area, and don’t care much about aesthetics, or providing an occasional meal for neighborhood wildlife, you can make a really simple, free compost bin in about 5 minutes by wiring 4 wooden pallets together to form a square. Pallets can be obtained for free from most home improvement stores, lumberyards and garden centers. If you don’t have wire on hand, try unwinding a wire coat hanger. When you want to stir or remove compost, you just open one side as you would a door.