DIY compost bins, and why you really should have one

A compost bin is a fantastic way to minimise waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

In this article, we’ll share a simple way to DIY your very own backyard compost bin – your plants will thank you!

What is compost?

Put simply, compost is decayed organic matter. This ‘organic matter’ can be anything from dry leaves and garden clippings to banana peels. Over time, these items break down into an incredibly nutrient-rich fertiliser that can help your garden thrive.

There are two basic methods of composting: hot and cold.

  • Hot composting is the fastest method and works by speeding up the decay process with nitrogen, air, carbon, and water to create high-quality compost in a matter of months.
  • Cold composting is a slower, lower-maintenance method of composting. Organic matter is collected in a bin and left alone to break down over about a year.

Why compost?

We should all be working toward a minimal-waste lifestyle. Composting gives us the opportunity to recycle things like food scraps, which could otherwise end up in landfill.

What’s more, the compost itself is extremely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of your garden. The complex nutrients found in compost energises your soil’s food web, adding in life-giving microscopic bacteria, earthworms, fungi, crickets, and more.

If you grow vegetables, composting is a must. Compost has the potential to boost your veggie garden’s resistance to common diseases and may even enhance their nutritional content and flavour, too.

A simple compost bin made from a plastic wheelie bin, sitting on garden path with purple flowers around it

Image credits: Better Homes & Gardens

How to create a DIY compost bin

Ready to get started. Here’s how to make a quick and easy DIY compost bin.

What you’ll need:

  • Large bin or trash can
  • Drill
  • Paddle drill bit

Step 1: Prepare the bin

If you are using an old bin, give it a good clean. Any leftover non-biodegradable materials could sabotage your composting efforts. If you are using a new bin, there’s no need to wash it. Just be sure to remove any stickers, tags, or packaging.

Step 2: Drill holes into the bin

Using the paddle bit, drill a hole into the side of the bin about 10cm or so from the lid. Drill a second hole about 10-15cm from the first. Continue drilling holes down the length of the bin. Repeat this process on all sides.

Step 3: Give the bin one final clean

You’ll need to give the bin one last clean before you put it to use. This time, you’re working to remove any plastic shards and debris created during the drilling process. Once cleaned, your DIY compost bin is ready to go.

A pair of hands cupping some compost soil with food scraps in background

Image credits: Biome

Composting dos and don’ts

To get you started, here are a couple of composting dos and don’ts.

  • Do use things like fruit and vegetable scraps (including produce that has gone bad), coffee grounds, eggshells, dry leaves, shredded paper and cardboard, straw, and grass clippings.
  • Don’t include things like treated wood, weeds, meat or bones, dairy products, oil, grease, or anything potentially infectious, like diseased plant matter.
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