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New Compost Bins

Building trash can compost bins is so easy! I read a great tutorial on DIY bins and it took me 10 minutes to make each one. Now I have 64 gallons (...and counting) of leaves ready to decompose for next year's flower beds.

I used two black Rubbermaid trash cans from a local hardware store, which were about $20 apiece. Since I'm using a relatively small container (most people recommend a 3' x 3' bin to achieve high temperatures and speedy composting action) I'll have to turn it frequently. The tutorial recommended soffit vents to allow oxygen into the bins. However, it seems like drilling holes should be just as good and that's what I did. I used a 1/4" drill bit.

Holes are drilled in the sides & bottom of the trash can to provide oxygen to the decomposing material.

According to the EPA, good compost needs to have brown materials (leaves, twigs, and nitrogen sources) and green materials (vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, grass clippings) and water. As you can see, right now I'm overflowing with browns! The cans are full of seeds and leaves that fell from the cursed Norway maple tree next door. So over the next few months I'll be adding vegetable scraps to the pile. It's nice to know that I don't have to send my vegetable scraps to the landfill anymore.


You'll notice that most of those leaves are bone-dry. After I finished adding material to the pile I moistened it with a bit of water. Most people recommend that your compost be moist, but not soaking wet.

So that's one thing crossed off my spring to-do list! If you want to start composting yourself, but aren't sure how to get started, check out the Lower East Side Ecology Center. They offer a lot of composting classes and sell at-cost worm & compost bins to the public.