Best DIY Composter

mmiesseMay 14, 2013

Hello! My girlfriend and I are going to make a composter, but we want to build it ourselves.

What is the best self-built composter you've come across? Any tips? Things that did not work? Location suggestions?

Links or images of any plans would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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A pile is the best self-built composter I've ever put together.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Hmmm...we live in an apartment complex so I thought a contained unit might be better.

But perhaps I'm wrong...any thoughts on that?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:24AM
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you might want to try bokashi if you live in an apartment....just use a garbage can as a container...bokashi can break down all food scraps including meat, milk, and fat unlike traditional composting and there is no smell involved.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 4:30PM
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Well, if you live in an apartment where are you going to put/use the compost? How much will you use and in what time?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 5:15PM
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We have a community garden at the complex, and my girlfriend and I also have our own small garden so we'll use the compost for that.

We were thinking of composting this summer and using any compost (if it's ready - I'm just starting this compost lifestyle) for our winter garden. Otherwise, we'll just use it for our 2014 summer garden.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Cool! So, how much space do you have for a composting operation? Second question - do you intend to add/build continuously, or do the all-at-once build of a pile? Third, and last question, what do you intend to put into your compost?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:39PM
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bill13286(7 DFWTX)

Hi Michelle...Here is a link to a home made double barrel composter that might work well for you. I use two single barrels and am well pleased with the results. Best of luck..

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Compost worms are great for apartment composting. "Worms Eat My Garbage" by Mary Applehof is the best how-to book (if you're interested). Good luck :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Hopefully you will consider vermicomposting as opposed to composting. I have been doing it for a year now inside with a homemade plastic bin. There are some things to know that will help you not make the mistakes of beginners and some questions that you might have. I am not a guru of worms but I have learned some things. I suggest you learn all you can on your own and view a lot of vids on you tube of this subject.

One of the most if not the most important issue in making your bin is aeration I cannot stress that enough. One of the most important issues of feeding is dont overfeed as that can lead to anaerobic conditions which would be bad. Certainly you can drill tons of holes in your selected bin but even that may not be good enough. Still you may wind up with some good vermicompost.

Heres what I ultimately did with help from "larks gardens" on you tube. I cut out the bottom of a bin leaving a lip about 3" all around , then using hardware cloth [wire] 1/4" cut to fit and catch on the lip. Then under the bin I placed supports such as wood strips to elevate the bin so air could easily pas thru and out of the bin. In the beginning I did not do this but had the bin sitting flat on the floor. The reason I found this important is after realizing that worms burrough thru the bedding to make natural aeration so its best not to stir the bedding any more than you have to. So I did this to get better air flow You will learn this and much more on your own. I caution do not be concerned if you spy other critters in an inside bin, its natural to have little microbes , white worms, pot worms springtails. You may see any or all of these and these will not be major problems and some of these critters are important to help the breakdown process. Another thing to understand is that the worms do not eat the actual food scraps you offer mainly fruit and veggie but the decomposition that the microbial bacteria have broken down. It is important to either cut up any food scraps as small as possible the worms can use it more easily. You dont have to do this but I tend to run my scraps thru a juicer then save the pulp in a separate container for a few days , then the worms can more readily use it and the decaying process will have started. Like I say learn all you can on the subject it will help in the long run. When you first get your worms and add them to your bin leave a light on right over the bin. The worms will be disoriented having just been shipped and put in a new environment and this will help keep them in the bin for the first couple of nights. If you find just a few outside the bin on the floor dont be alarmed it may take a while for the worms do adapt, but once they do they will not want to leave where the food is.

Some no-nos to never put in your bin--meats, dairy, , oils and fats. I hope this helps you a little to get started.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Thank you, hummersteve! We ended up doing your suggested type of composting but I will implement some of your suggestions, as I noticed it is not composting as well as I'd like. I think my aeration, mostly, is not good enough.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:30PM
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Looks like the OP came up with something. For future readers I suggest the following.

The Best DIY Composter is the one that is approciate for you given your:

1) Lot size
2) Neighbors
3) zoning laws
4) pets
5) available ingredients
6) aesthetic considerations
7) fishing, if any (Vermi)
8) physical condition
9) time considerations

  1. patience -- hot or slow?
    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I would be interested in doing my own compost bin as well and am wondering if a 5 gallon bucket could be used, and if so, how does one compost using the bucket and food scraps? Should a lid stay on the bucket or not? Should a bag be inserted in the bucket to hold the food scraps? Should the food scraps just sit there or should they be moved in some way?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:18AM
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The current issue of Organic Gardening magazine has an excellent article on vermicomposting.
The simplest container for composting I have ever constructed was about 12 feet of 2 x 4 mesh welded wire fencing, vinyl covered, made into a 4 foot diameter circle.

This post was edited by kimmsr on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 7:36

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:33AM
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Here is the compost tumbler I finished building. I used it for one batch before, but the base wasn't strong enough. After more research, I saw a picture with a base that was shorter and sturdier looking and I modeled mine after it. Most important things that make this design sturdier: lower to the ground (no more than 3ft high), right angles on the "leg" pieces, and last but not least, the horizontal 2x4's under the legs.

I used mostly scrap 2x4's, a 1x4, and a 1x1 furring strip. I would have preferred to use all 2x4's but didn't have enough. The hardware was two hinges from an old cabinet and a latch we had laying around. I bought the plastic drum from craigslist for $10 and a $5 piece of pvc pipe. If I had it to do over, I would have used a galvanized steel pipe or something stronger than the pvc. The pvc droops a bit when the barrel is full.

It makes a nice batch of compost for my small urban backyard raised bed gardens. It also doesn't attract pests like a pile would. I can get about a wheelbarrow full of compost from one batch. In my hot Florida climate, the barrel gets hot enough to breakdown chopped kitchen scraps and leaves/grass and the occasional addition of horse manure quickly. In a cooler climate the barrel could be painted black to get it hotter. If I'm not ready to use the compost right away, I have a separate very large trashbin that I can move the finished compost to until I'm ready to use it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:47PM
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."bokashi can break down all food scraps ... and there is no smell involved."

I don't know that I would say that there is no smell. I don't find the smell objectionable in my basement, but some forum people find it a problem. A bit like pickled vinegar maybe.

I made newspaper bokashi from rice water. Only tried it for a year, seemed a bit too much like a fad for my taste.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 3:17PM
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I forgot one important consideration.

  1. understanding the method or bin or system you have selected. Many folks buy or select a system without understanding the process and what work and ingredients are involved.

The tumbler could be an excellent example of this, if the buyer did not understand what was involved. I was certainly not aware that as a novice composter I would be weighing the ingredients on my bathroom scale, shredding all ingredients very finely, and while the ad for the product said you only had to rotate the drum five revolutions per day -- that actually meant 25 turns of the crank handle.

Buyer beware.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:38PM
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looks like you are not concern about leaking toxic things from plastic drum and PVC pipe into you compost?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:58PM
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