Outside Gourmet Compost Bin Instructions

Overview

Gourmet compost differs from regular compost (which is also called "casual compost") because it needs daily ventilation and must be heated to at least 120 degrees F to kill weed seeds and speed up the composting process, producing compost within three months or less, according to CalRecycle. When creating an outdoor gourmet compost bin, it is important to keep in mind that although you get faster results, it requires more effort. Gourmet compost bins require an ideal blend of carbon and nitrogen, and it is necessary to continuously keep the bin moist with regular air circulation. Although gourmet composting can be a time-consuming process; all you need is some simple materials and a little dedication to produce rich organic compost.

Step 1

Decide what size you want the compost bin to be. This all depends on your available space, budget and how much compost you want to create. Keep in the range of a 5-, 10-, 15- or 20-gallon bin. Drill holes about 1/3-inch wide to provide air circulation, spacing them evenly over the bucket about 5 to 6 inches apart.

Step 2

Layer straw and dirt on the bottom of the compost pile to prevent odors and create a base for the compost pile. First layer carbon-based materials, preferably organic. Carbon-based materials are usually brown and/or dry, such as tea or coffee grounds; cardboard; old carpet; paper products like plates, napkins and cups; sawdust; wood fire ashes; hair and paper shreds.

Step 3

Layer nitrogen materials next on top of the carbon. From here on out try to switch them back and forth in layers. Nitrogen materials are all "green" materials, from inside and outside. These include grass clippings, leaves, tree and shrub trimmings, old spices, food scraps such as vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells and wheat products. Dozens of carbon and nitrogen items can be added to a compost pile. (See Resources.)

Step 4

Add water daily to the compost bin, opening up the lid just to add in the water or more composting materials, or to take fresh compost out. If the materials are too dry, composting won't occur, but if they are too wet, they will just rot. Distribute water around the edges of the compost pile by lightly pouring it down the sides, and on top of it. You can also spritz the top with a water bottle, and do this in between the layers while fluffing up with a shovel to increase air circulation. The test to see if your compost bin is moist enough is to pick up a handful of the compost and squeeze. If a couple drops don't squeeze out, the compost is too dry.

Step 5

Provide adequate air circulation to the gourmet compost bin, every single day. This helps encourage bacteria to form. This is where the term "gourmet" comes in, as most compost bins only need to be sifted, turned or fluffed about once a week. Use a shovel to fluff up the layers, or else keep the airtight lid on the bin and roll it across the ground to sift through the compost.

Step 6

Provide at least four to six hours of sunlight for the compost bin per day to speed up the composting process.

Things You'll Need

  • 5- to 20-gallon container with secure airtight lid
  • Drill
  • Organic materials
  • Water
  • Straw
  • Dirt

References

  • How To Compost
  • CalRecycle: Home Composting
  • Plantea: 163 Things You Can Compost
  • Journey To Forever: Making Compost
  • CalRecycle: Gourmet Composting
Keywords: gourmet compost bin, composting instructions, compost bin construction

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.