Making An Outdoor Compost Bin

Posted on Jan 18 2010 - 10:37am by Mike Lieberman

I decided to make an undercover outdoor compost bin at my grandmother’s for my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn.

Why is it undercover? It is because my Grandmother would flip out if she knew I was composting in her backyard? Why would she flip out? I dunno. She’s 90 and does that kind of thing. We are talking about the woman who freaked out when I brought my first harvest into her house.

Making this outdoor compost bin was very similar to the aerobic compost bin in my kitchen.

This bin also had no cost in putting together as well. All of the tools and materials I already had.

    Here’s how the construction went down:

  • Drilled 1/4″ holes in the bottom of the can.
  • 1/4″ holes were then drilled vertically along the sides of the can about 2″ apart. Horizontally they were about 4″ apart.
  • Collected leaves from the backyard and filled it about half full, then pressed them down until it was about a quarter of the way full.
  • Some of the plants and soil from the containers that I broke down were put on top of the pile.
  • Topped that with some of the Jamaica Bay Sticky Icky (seaweed).
  • Put one last pile of leaves on top.
  • More holes were drilled along the sides to allow for more aeration.

This was a two-day operation. By the time the second day rolled around much of the soil was frozen and couldn’t be used. Luckily, the seaweed didn’t freeze up.

When completed, the compost was put back way in the corner of the backyard where my Grandmother doesn’t go anymore.

Unfortunately, in this weather the compost has froze up. You think it’ll last? How long until I should have some good usable compost?

  • http://twitter.com/stsh27 s. trevor harris

    I hope you put in a sunny spot, the sun heats it up and allows the plants to discompose more quickly. I have one that is out all year long (it snows here a lot)…maybe it freezes -I don't worry about it. I say by spring you should have some great soil at the bottom.

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  • Mike Lieberman

    I think that spot gets a fair amount of sun, but we're not getting too much sun at all here in NYC. Plus if I put it in a really sunny spot, my Grandmother would definitely find it.

  • http://endemismotrasnochado.blogspot.com/ antigonum cajan

    To have compost a balance of green/dry material is necessary. If in this type of plastic receptacle aerify once a week. Add shredded newspapers to limit the humidity. Excess heat, a result of decompositinon will kill your dear worms.
    ON the other hand, my worms come out of nowhere. I have never bought any.
    My recipe: dry/green leaves, coffe grounds, onion/garlic skins, dog poop, hair.
    Aerify is the secret. Also if excess humidity by anaerobic conditions, the smell
    of urea/sulphur will tell you: Time to aerify…

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. There are no worms in this bin. Just straight browns and greens. I'll definitely make sure to aerate though. I've been adding lots of leaves to the pile bc they are readily available. Thanks for the tip.

  • http://ChrisBaskind.com Chris Baskind

    Mike, this is a great piece. I've been considering some sort of indoor bin for a while.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Chris. I have an indoor bin in my kitchen too http://www.urbanorganicgardener.com/how-to-buil

  • http://endemismotrasnochado.blogspot.com/ antigonum cajan

    Thanks for your feedback. Until then.
    Good luck in your projects..

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  • Eric Swanson

    Awesome…It really is fusterating when trying to encourage the baby bomers to get into this (some of the are listening) when all they have to say about it is..but it will stink. I think its a most wonderful idea and its better late than never for sure. Everyone should be doing this.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the comment. Agree with what you have to say.

  • Alexis0124

    Can I still use this type of compost bin with organic leftover food products? We don't have seaweed. We live in the midwest.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Aboslutely. It's the same thing minus the seaweed. The seaweed just adds extra nutrients and minerals to the compost. You can add horse manure if you have access to that as well.

    http://www.urbanorganicgardener.com/how-to-buil

  • http://www.mattressinchina.com Memory Foam Mattress

    is there anything instead of seaweed~~~~??
    it’s very useful for your greend garden~

  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    great post don’t forget to add a bit of Moo Poo Tea to help naturally speed the break down of you organic matter : )

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Good call on that.