A homemade compost bin is a simple and inexpensive way of creating compost--rich, dark, crumbly organic matter that is packed with essential nutrients for garden and container soil. Although readily available in local nurseries and garden supply centers, compost that you create yourself reduces the amount of household waste that takes unnecessary space in landfills. Turn composting into a family project and get your children involved in the process to teach them about decomposition, ecology and environmental responsibility.
Measure the length and width of the 35- to 50-gallon plastic barrel or bin and note the measurements. Rinse the container with soapy water if you're using a used one. Remove the tight-fitting lid and wash it as well. Let the bin air dry.
Arrange a row of bricks on the ground in a rectangle. Refer to the measurements of the barrel and lay the bricks accordingly to form a tight fit so it does not allow room for movement. This is where you will set the compost tumbler when it is not being turned. Make sure the selected spot in your backyard is shaded and has well-drained soil.
Stand the dry barrel on its base. Drill 1/8- to 3/4-inch holes all over its body, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart. Also drill holes all over the container's lid and base. These drainage holes assist the decomposition process and allow oxygen and mini-bugs to enter.
Collect green and brown scrap from your kitchen and yard. "Green" material ncludes grass clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable peels, food scraps and plant parts; whereas "brown" material includes twigs, branches and stems, coffee filters, shredded paper bags, cardboard and wood chips.
Remove the lid and fill 2-inch-thick alternating layers of green and brown waste in the barrel. Do this until it is 2/3 full. Slightly wet the waste until evenly moist. Add wood chips to absorb excess water if you pour too much.
Replace the lid tightly to seal the barrel. Your compost tumbler is ready. Prevent it from opening by wrapping a length of bungee cord from the lid to the base.
Lay the weighty compost tumbler flat on its side and roll it to across your yard for five or six complete rotations. This mixes the contents and assists decomposition. Roll it back toward the bricks. Lift the front row of bricks, push the barrel inside, and replace the bricks to prevent the container from rolling.