Trash can compost bin, center air tube or not?

lsohNovember 20, 2009

Given neighborhood limitations, I'm trying to make compost in a trash can. I drilled a series of small air holes in the sides and in the bottom of a rubber trash can. I do not expect this small pile to heat up.

Question 1: I've read that the pile needs air. I already have a scrap piece of 6" diameter pvc pipe with a series 2" holes drilled on all sides. I could set that vertically in the center of the can to get air into the center of the pile. On the other hand, I've read that the composting occurs at the center of the pile, not the edges. But that pvc pipe would pretty much remove any material from the center. So would I be better off with or without the center pipe? (I don't anticipate turning this pile often)

Quesiton 2: I've read that that the pile needs some water. I don't anticipate carrying water out to this pile. I could leave the lid off when the pile is dry to catch rain. And that would get more air to the top of the pile. On the other hand, seems like the top material probably won't compost unless it's covered. So, should I leave the lid on or off?


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I composted in the desert in garbage cans. I know dry.

You don't need the center tube. It is not that far from the center of the pile to the edge for aeration.

As far as catching rain, as long as you have PLENTY (20 or more)of holes in the bottom, I'd put the cover on upside down so that it dishes INTO the center. When you cut a small hole in the center of the lid, it will direct all the rain that hits the can to the center. Hold the upside down cover on with a bunjee or two -- then you wont get varmits in it nor allow the wind to prematurely dry out the contents. If it is VERY dry, just bring out an ice cream bucket of water to dose the pile with. Or just "water" your kitchen compost makings in a pail and dump them in the composter.

I'd compost into at least two cans. Keep filling just one and let it settle. Once it doesn't seem to be settling anymore and is FULL, start putting compost making in the other one. By the time the 2nd one is full, the first one should be reduced to nice compost.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 3:16PM
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Compost doesnt only happen in the center but in a hot pile the center breaks down fastest. you can get you bin hot but it doesnt need to be.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 5:28PM
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A compost pile that is greater than about 6 feet by 6 feet might need a "chimney" of some kind to move air into the center of the pile, but anything of smaller volume does not.
Your compost pile does need some moisture. The bacteria that digest the material work better in a slightly moist environment, but a wet environment excludes the air they also need to function.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 7:08AM
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Thanks for your replies

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 7:10PM
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