A compost bin isn't required for composting organic waste. Organic wastes such as leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps will break down on their own. However, the process can be controlled and sped up with the use of a compost bin. A pile of leaves may take up to two years to decompose on their own, but will only take a few short months when put through a hot compost process with a compost bin. Several types of compost bins can be built.
A wire cage is simply a circle made of chicken or hog wire. This type of compost bin is known as a holding bin, and is primarily used for cold compost processes in which the compost is not turned. A wire cage is simply a length of wire bent into a circle. This type of compost pile is best for holding yard and garden materials that can take between 6 months and 2 years to slowly decompose. Composting this way is the least labor intensive way to compost. Simply pile your scraps into the bin and leave them.
This type of bin is inexpensive and simple to make. The bin is made from old pallets or wooden skids that have been wired together to form a large open topped box. A larger quantity of pallets can be turned into a three-chambered compost system for shifting organic material as you turn it for faster decomposition. For an open-topped box bin, unfasten the securing wire and lower the pallet on one side every time that you need access to the organic materials inside. This makes adding organic waste and turning the compost easier.
A compost bin made from a garbage can is another inexpensive and easy-to-build project. This type of bin is made by drilling ½ inch holes in evenly spaced rows throughout the garbage can to facilitate air flow through the container. You can use a garbage can as a type of tumbling bin for stirring the materials in side to keep them mixed up and to always give the microbes that decompose the compost access to undigested organic material.
For small spaces such as an apartment, a worm composting bin takes up the least amount of space and is the least messy and smelly type of compost project to undertake. Worm composting can be confined to a small plastic storage container that has been placed underneath a counter. The container is usually filled with a bedding source such as shredded newspaper and has holes drilled into it for air. The worms in the box eat and digest kitchen scraps as you leave them in the box. Within a matter of weeks, the worms will transform a container of kitchen scraps and newspaper to a box of rich organic compost that can be used in containers or in the garden.