Compost is an essential medium for any gardener. It enriches the soil, provides nutrients to plants, and helps improve soil composition. It’s also easy to make compost using simple items you probably have lying around your home. Here’s how to make a 5-gallon bucket compost bin to get yourself some free compost.
I covered a similar topic earlier this year when I blogged about creating a low-cost worm compost bin. If you’re not a fan of worms and want to avoid dealing directly with creepy crawlies, here’s an alternative method for creating your own compost.
Often, people use storebought bins to compost produce scraps and yard refuse. You can also build a bin from scratch. If you’re not very handy and don’t have room for a full-size compost bin, you’re in luck! A bucket compost system works in a pinch and is great for people who garden on their balconies or porch.
What do you need?
- A 5-gallon bucket. That’s pretty much it. If you don’t have one, you can probably grab one at your local hardware store for cheap. But ask around, someone you know might have one they don’t need.
- A drill. This is to drill holes in the bucket. If you don’t have power tools, use a hammer and nail.
Assembling Your DIY Compost Bin
Take your 5-gallon compost bucket and drill holes in the bottom and the lid. You need to let the compost aerate to prevent mold growth.
Use something at the bottom of your bin to prevent the drainage holes from getting lodged with waste. You can use sticks, rocks, whatever works.
The next step? Filling up the bucket!
You can fill your 5-gallon DIY compost bucket with fruit and veggie scraps, grass clippings, and other compost-friendly materials. Not sure what you can put in? Here’s a handy guide.
It’s best to keep your bin outside to prevent odors from stinking up your home. Roll the bin around occasionally to ensure the materials mix together. If you choose to line the bottom of your bin with rocks, it may be tougher to mix the contents, though.
Always make sure the lid is tightly affixed to the bucket to keep pests from breaking in and feasting on your rotting materials.
How Long Will it Take?
It can take a while for matter in your compost bucket to decompose fully. The rate of decomposition depends on the weather, where you live, and what you stuff inside. Avoid filling the bin up too much. If there’s not enough air, it’ll take longer for stuff to break down.
Help your 5-gallon bucket compost bin contents along by putting your bin in a spot with lots of sunlight.
Need a visual guide to get your 5-gallon compost bucket ready? Check out this YouTube tutorial:
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer gardening in zone 5b. She is a certified Square Foot Gardener and has taught various garden-related workshops. When she’s not digging in the dirt or writing, she’s cooking up fresh produce, running, or listening to her favorite podcasts.