Starting a New Composting Bin

Composting was always an activity that “someone else does.” I never had any intention of doing it until single stream recycling came along. None of this made any sense to me until my husband and I ran numbers that we shared in a prior post on hauling garbage. I remember Aimee would say things to me like, “Single stream recycling and composting has made a serious difference in the amount of garbage we take to the dump.” I would look at her with a blank expression. Now…I get it! (Single stream recycling lets you put fewer items into the garbage pail and more items into the recycling bin, and that’s great news for those of us who bring our own garbage to the dump for a fee.)

compost bin
A $48 compost bin from Home Depot. The brand is Keter (haven’t heard of it) and I consider it my “starter” bin. But I can lift the bottom hatch on both sides of the bin to get at finished compost (whenever that will be…).

After doing a tiny bit of research into composting bins, I decided to buy one instead of make one out of a garbage can, wood or wire like many people do to keep costs down. Figuring I’d end up spending over $100 for a bin with a drawer that would let me access finished compost, I decided to save up. However, I found the last bin at my local Home Depot, and it ended up being $48. I’m sure it’s not the best bin out there, but for my purposes (starting small), it was worth grabbing so I could at least start.

I began gathering vegetable scraps a couple of days ago by placing them in a forgotten ice bucket (that was a wedding gift two decades ago). The ice bucket is nice enough to put on my counter. But I’m sure I’ll have to eventually find one with a carbon filter or some other type of countertop compost can so we don’t smell anything. (I haven’t smelled anything yet…)

For a couple of days, I watched a ton of YouTube videos on starting a compost, then read blogs about it, then watched more videos. I had a slight idea of what to do:

  • put straw on bottom layer to draw in air to middle layers
  • after each layer, spritz with some water
  • always cover up veggie scraps with brown matter
  • newly cut grass has some dead grass, some new grass, so it’s a good combination
  • remember the coffee grounds tomorrow morning ;–)
  • relax, this should be fun, not scary
  • postscript a month later: remember to choose a sunny place for your bin! I have to move mine into a sunnier spot– too much shade where it is now

So, there you have it. Now, my photos…

Oh…and by the way…a month later, I put on gloves to manually “turn” the compost. I found DIRT!!! Can I tell you how proud I am that I made….dirt? I made dirt! In the middle of the compost was beautiful-smelling, earthy-smelling dirt! So now, I can’t wait till my husband builds the raised bed (I’m starting small) so I can use my new concoction. I hope something…anything….grows this year!

And now….for photos…

Here’s the spot I wanted to put my compost bin. It’s right near a bunch of dried out grass (that’s turned to straw) and old leaves. Plus, it’s out of the way of kids. The only issue I may have is critters. Sometimes they make their homes under the shed! I may have to figure out how to bolt down the top of the bin.
bin in place
Bin in place, ready to fill. By the way, I found finished compost underneath the black tarp that was covering old leaves.
filled bin
I filled the bin as best as possible, but I betcha I don’t have enough greens. I sprinkled water between layers, hid the veggie scraps, and crossing my fingers. Now I have to remember to turn the pile in a couple of weeks.

steel bin
Here’s my temporary (or permanent?) countertop compost bin for food scraps. I have to remember to tell my husband not to put in anything cooked and definitely no bones or meat! Think of all the eggshells we threw out when we could be making compost with them!