How to Fill a Barrel Composter


Compost enriches the soil and adds organic matter and nutrients that plants need. Composting is as simple as piling up clippings and garden refuse in the corner of the yard. Eventually, the pile will turn into compost. A barrel composter with a handle for turning makes the job easier and looks less unsightly in the yard. Some gardeners have two barrel composters--one filled with ready-to-use compost, and the other with compost in the making.

Step 1

Fill the barrel with 2 inches of "brown" dry matter such as dry leaves, bark, newspapers, shredded paper wrappings and small twigs.

Step 2

Add a 2-inch layer of green material such as grass clippings, prunings from the garden, weeds, spent plants and flowers.

Step 3

Give the barrel three of four turns of the handle to mix the ingredients.

Step 4

Add a 2-inch layer of kitchen refuse such as coffee grounds, tea leaves, peelings, spoiled fruit, vegetables and egg shells.

Step 5

Give the barrel three of four turns of the handle to mix the ingredients.

Step 6

Fill the barrel and turn the handle with equal amounts of brown and green material and kitchen refuse until you reach the bottom of the door opening.

Step 7

Add material to the barrel in the same equal ratio of 1/3 brown, 1/3 green and 1/3 kitchen refuse as space becomes available in the composter. As the previous ingredients decompose, they will take up less space.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't add meat, bones or diary products to the compost as they attract vermin. While bird droppings are okay to use; pet and human waste are not safe, and could lead to disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Brown clippings
  • Hand shovel
  • Green plant materials
  • Kitchen refuse


  • "Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource for Every Gardener"; Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara Ellis and Ellen Phillips; 2009

Who Can Help

  • Solid Waste District: Barrel Composter
Keywords: organic barrel composter, composting barrel, filling composter barrel

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.