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How to Use a Metal Drum for a Compost Bin

If you want a compost bin, yet do not want to spend money on one from a store or home center, look around your home and garage. You might be surprised by what you already have that would make an effective compost bin. For example, a 55-gallon metal drum is the ideal size for holding a generous amount of composting materials for compost making. With basic tools and materials, you can soon have a useful compost bin made from a metal drum.

Place the metal drum upside down in a place where you can work on it easily. Make small marks with the permanent marker where you will drill aeration holes in the bottom of the drum. Space the holes evenly across the entire surface of the bottom of the drum, with between six and nine rows of holes.

Drill the holes with the drill and then turn the metal drum right side up.

Select a location for the metal drum composting bin. Choose a place that is not close to any buildings, is out of sight (if you do not like the idea of looking at a compost bin) and convenient to your gardening areas. Make sure the ground is level in this location and then place the metal drum there.

Begin adding the composting materials to the metal drum. Start with 7 inches of brown ingredients (pine needles or dried leaves) and then add 4 inches of green materials (kitchen scraps or manure). Saturate each layer with water as you add it and mix the compost layers with a garden spade. Continue adding layers to fill the metal drum as high as you desire.

Close the metal drum tightly and ensure the lid is on securely. Leave the compost materials to sit for 2 to 3 days.

Move the metal drum onto its side after 2 or 3 days. Push the metal drum to roll it around on the ground. Do this for several minutes to mix up the composting materials inside the drum. Replace the drum in its location.

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 two more times to finish heating the composting materials.

Leave the metal drum sealed to cure the compost for at least 2 months. Open the drum and check the compost materials after 2 months. If the contents of the metal drum are a dark color, a crumbly consistency and smell of the earth, the compost is ready to use.

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