You Can Make This Simple Kitchen Composter for Under $20
I’ve been composting my kitchen scraps for the past three months and it’s going pretty well. I use my homemade patio composter and I’ve experimented with trench composting. Both of these are working, but I’m looking for a place to put my scraps when it’s raining outside – and it rains a bunch in Oregon!
I ran across an article in Vegetable Gardener a few weeks ago and decided to make my own kitchen scrap composter and bury it in the garden. It will attract worms and doesn’t take up much space. Plus it’s a quick way to dispose of my scraps when the rain is blessing my garden.
You will need:
- A galvanized metal trash can with a lid (you choose the size)
- Electric drill
- ¼ inch drill bit
- Bungee cord or wire
- Newspaper or shredded paper
- A handful of soil
- A spot in the garden
1 -Drill ¼ inch holes in the bottom of a galvanized metal trash can. I chose a 20 gallon can to experiment with. This size hole will allow worms to enter the can and do their “work”’
2 -Drill at least two rows of holes around the outside of the can. Do not go any higher than halfway. All holes will be underground.
3 -Pick a spot in your garden with no standing water issues and dig a hole as big around as your trash can and as deep as half the can.
4- Set the can into the hole and backfill soil around the outside, tamping down with your shovel. NOTE from doing it myself – Make sure the hole you dig is big enough so that the can fit easily and that you place it away from a fence so you can dig on all sides.
5- Make some bedding for the worms you are inviting – get two inches of wet (but not dripping) newspaper or shredded paper and place it in the bottom of the buried can.
6- Add a few handfuls of garden soil and your first kitchen scraps.
Cover tightly, secure the lid, and walk away! You might want to tie the lid to the can with wire or twine, so they cannot be separated.
To use your kitchen scrap composter, add scraps as you would to any composting system and cover with a thin layer of leaves, chopped up straw, or garden dirt. Continue filling the can and let it sit until the worms are finished doing their job.
The smaller you make your scraps, the quicker the transformation into compost.
I anticipate my family of two will fill this composter in a few months and then I will be able to let it sit over the summer and harvest the compost in the fall. If we fill it quicker, I can always add another one.
See other posts about composting at PreparednessMama.com:
Teach Your Family to Compost Kitchen Scraps is about creating a counter-top scrap catcher that even the kids can understand.
SMART Composting- Turn your spoil into the soil will give you all the information you need to know about the things you should and should NOT put into the compost.
Create a Mini Compost Bin is great for people who have small space, or garden on the patio and deck. Even small space gardeners can create compost.
These downloadable directions from Seattle Tilth suggest securing the lid with a bungee cord to keep out pests. Raccoons, opossums, or dogs can knock the lid off so it’s important to keep the lid on your digester closed to keep rodents out. Place a rock on the lid or tie a bungee cord to the lid handle and attach the bungee hooks to the handles on the sides of the garbage can to help hold the lid on.
Have you ever used this system to compost kitchen scraps? Fill us in on the pros and cons in the comment section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kitchen scraps can be composted?
If an item can be eaten or grown in a field, it can be composted. Items that cannot be composted include plastics, grease, glass, and metals.
Items such as red meat, bones, and small amounts of paper are acceptable, but they take longer to decompose. Add red meat and bones to only a well-controlled compost pile to avoid attracting vermin, pests and insects to partially decomposed meat scraps.
The best items to compost are the following: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, bread, unbleached paper napkins, coffee filters, eggshells, meats, and newspapers.
How long does it take for kitchen scraps to compost?
Depending on the size of your compost pile, what you put in it, and how you tend to it, this process can take three months to two years.
Can you compost with just food scraps?
Food scraps alone aren’t enough to create good compost. You will need a balance of both kitchen waste (namely green leftovers from fruits, veggies, etc.) and carbon-rich materials (such as browns).
Can I just throw kitchen scraps in my garden?
If you have a garden, you can bury your scraps right there and let them compost underground. Just keep your kitchen scraps in a plastic bucket with a lid. Potato peels, citrus rinds, greens, leftover vegetables, eggshells, and bread—just about any nonmeat food residues can be easily composted.
How often should I turn my compost?
As an average, it would be best to turn your compost every four or five weeks. Ideally, however, you should turn your compost every two weeks to get the best results. Waiting at least two weeks allows the center of the pile to heat up and promotes maximum bacterial activity.
Got any other tips, tricks, or questions regarding composting? Leave us a comment so that our community can learn more.