Broken Trash Can Gets a New Life as a Compost Bin

Broken Trash Can Gets a New Life as a Compost Bin

Like most avid gardeners, I love to compost.  Along with improving home energy efficiency,  practicing water conservation, and reducing the amount of meat the family eats, home composting is one of the most environmentally beneficial activities we can do here.  Instead of buying bagged soil amendments, I create my own endless supply.

recycled materials into a compost bin
DIY compost bin

I have tried using many kinds of compost bins and piles over the last 15 years.  I had an expensive black plastic bin that came apart in sections that I used for a decade, I have created piles, and have used chicken wire in a cylinder.  However, my current bin is by far my favorite: it is the broken trash can I turned into a compost bin.  I asked the trash man one day as he was changing out a broken trash can for neighbor what the city does with the municipal trash cans that they haul away.  He said they sit around on the city’s lot.  After talking to him for a little bit about the design I saw at Make Magazine, he gave me one to re-purpose into a compost bin.  It had a crack in the wheel, but other than that, it was in almost new condition and didn’t even smell like a trash can.

I drilled one inch holes all over it.  Then I cut an access door in the front toward the bottom with my saws all.   I close the panel up with a bungie cord when I am not scooping out compost.

To use, I just keep adding material to the top, turn, add water as needed, and eventually it comes out the bottom.  I like to turn it with a spading fork every few days or when I add material.  When I am actively caring for the pile and not adding much extra, it makes finished compost in about 4 to 6 weeks.  It reaches 150 to 160 degrees with proper care.  I enjoy seeing the steam coming off the top and testing the temp with my thermometer.  When I am lazy, the compost takes about 3 months.  It just sits next to my city trash cans in my side yard.  Best of all, it fits perfectly next to my city trash and recycling cans, doesn’t have as big a foot print as some of the others, and it is tidy in comparison.

easy to make compost
The flap at the bottom is only secured with a bungie cord. I remove the panel when I need a bit of compost

I open the flap on the bottom and scoop out small or large amounts.

It is full of red wigglers year round that multiple readily. In the warm months of the year, I get beneficial Black Soldier Fly larvae in it as well.

3 thoughts on “Broken Trash Can Gets a New Life as a Compost Bin

  1. Hi Leanne,

    Love the site, got here through BYC! Did you know that chickens (mine do) love to eat Black Soldier fly larve found this out by taking some out of my worm bin. If you can and want to stomach feeding them those gross prehistoric things they will each them over a red wiggler anyday and better protein I hear?! Have an eggstatic day!

I would love to know what you think about this.

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