Trash can compost bin

Making a trash can composter

Making a trash can composter

Last year my dad helped me build some boxes for raised garden beds. He’s not in town anymore, but his influence lingers.

In April he wrote a blog post about how to build a garbage can composter. I filed that away, since Yoli had wanted to begin composting for a long time. She has always been very good about making the most use of food items.

Yesterday I finally got out the drill and a new green trashcan and got to work. The project was pretty easy, but boy was it hot outside.

Joseph was eager to help. He's using his own drill toy here, but I also let him do a few real holes (with help).

Joseph was eager to help. He’s using his own drill toy here, but I also let him do a few real holes (with help).

The steps are simple. Here they are, adapted from my dad’s blog:

  • Drill holes all over the can, including on bottom.

    Dad drilled 1/2-inch holes. I didn’t have a bit that size, so I went with 3/8. The holes lets air circulate, and ensure the can won’t fill with water.
  • Secure the lid with machine screws.

    A composter like this one should be rolled around on the ground at least once a week, so it’s important to make sure the lid won’t come off by accident. My dad’s solution was to use 1/4-inch machine screws pointing up, secured with wing nuts. I drilled small 3/16 holes in the rim of the can, to help the machine screws stick in the plastic. Larger 5/16 holes in the lid make it easier to put the lid on.
  • Make a base.

    I have leftover cinder blocks from when our house was rebuilt after the tornado. I decided the composter would live behind our garage in a spot we don’t use for anything else. I took a square point shovel, cut through the weeds and ivy, and made two somewhat-level troughs in which to place the cinder blocks. Then I set the composter on top.

The finished trash can composter

The finished trash can composter

Yoli already had a bag of scraps to put into it. Hopefully the worms will be happy and after a while we’ll get some good compost for the garden.

About Josh Renaud

I'm the Emperor of the Renaud Empire, which is to say that I'm the husband of a Boliviana and the father of three daughters and one son. When I'm not conquering lands and expanding borders, I'm a newspaper designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Find me on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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