How to Set Up a Compost Bin

5 easy steps to setting up a home composting operation

A compost bin, an outside storage unit for your compost materials, can help you in the composting process significantly. Whether you buy a compost bin or you make one out of a trashcan or other materials, compost bins are much neater than backyard compost piles. And they are less easily penetrated by kids and pets. Follow these steps to set up your compost bin.

Step 1: Buy or make a compost bin

You can purchase a bin from a hardware store, a catalog or a lawn and garden shop. These commercial bins come in different sizes to suit your family's needs, are sturdy and are usually designed to make the compost mixing process easier. But you can easily make one yourself and pocket the moolah. A home-made compost bin can be created out of a garbage can, leftover shipping materials or any number of products that can contain the compost.

Step 2: Put holes in your compost bin

If you've gone the home-made route, the next step in your compost bin plan should be to drill some holes in the bin, which will allow moisture to get in and out. GardenGuide.com, an online resource for all things gardening, suggests that you put holes in the lid of the bin, around the top rim and at the bottom of the bin for drainage.

Step 3: Find a place for your bin

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a dry, shady location so that the material does not get too dried out from direct sun exposure, or that the contents of the bin don't get too ripe (and stinky) from the heat.

Step 4: Add your materials

The EPA lists three main ingredients needed to make compost: green materials, brown materials and water. Before adding these materials, GardenGuides.com suggests putting newspaper in the bottom of the bin. Next, begin with your green materials, or organic compost. These are generally items found in your kitchen food scraps, like banana peels and coffee grounds. On top of these items, add the brown materials, like paper and dead leaves. You will continue to layer these items until the bin is full.

Step 5: Add water and turn

After you've accumulated a fair ammount of compost materials, add water and then stir. Choose a tool to use in the turning process, like a pitch fork, but be sure you don’t puncture the sides of the bin.

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