Energy & Sustainability
HOW TO – Backyard composter

Diy Composter Int
Diy Composter Ext Crop

Ryan writes in with a helpful how-to –

Well, it’s garden season again, which means it’s time to start composting. I meant to be composting throughout the winter, but a telephone pole fell on my old compost pile, and I’ve had absolutely no motivation to repair it. It wasn’t much of a pile anyways. As anyone who knows how it works will tell you (not me!) composting can be tricky. It takes a delicate balance of nitrogen, carbon, moisture and air to do it correctly, and if you’re doing the conventional compost “heap,” that means making sure your balance of raw material is good, that the heap is well drained, and that you turn it over quite regularly so that air can get to the microbes that need it.
Some folks (especially urbanites like myself) have resorted to compost tumblers, which alleviate the air and moisture issue by making it easy to aerate and drain the pile. These tumblers are cool, but often expensive. Since it’s essentially just a drum on a fixed axle with some holes poked in it, it was fairly easy to build one myself on the cheap. I settled on a design that maximizes air and drainage, keeping the compost moist but not wet, and aerated but not dry. I did it for about forty bucks, and it didn’t really take any special tools.

Backyard composter

12 thoughts on “HOW TO – Backyard composter

  1. I find it amusing how all of you youngsters
    are writing about such simple solutions to everyday problems. Your grand parents did these things daily and thought nothing about it. During WWII most Americans recycled and scrimped more than you ever will.

  2. True, we take for granted many resources which were scarce and conserved in the past – but sharing information like this seems a good way for us ‘youngsters’ to learn these ‘simple solutions’. In many ways they have faded from the public consciousness, and a lot of us would like to know more about them and put them to use.

    So if you do have other ideas which you think could be helpful, please share them – condescension doesn’t help, but good ideas often do.

  3. @Robert: And your point is. . .?
    Sure, people recycled during WWII. Guess what? During the 1700s, people pretty much had to MAKE everything before they could recycle it. They scrimped and recycled and saved more than you ever will. And then there’s cave men…

    Somebody always had it worse, and somebody usually thought of it first, too.

  4. I see where Robert is coming from and I’m glad that the days of making things yourself are returning with such gusto. It was a dying breed that did it themselves so its great for us youngsters to have the internet to find ‘lost’ information and even greater that people are looking for it. Sure a barrel on a stick isn’t that complicated but that’s because the best solutions to problems are the simple ones. I grew up in the country with a compost pile – now I live in the city and have no place for a pile. I’m glad to see multiple barrel designs come up on Make in the last couple days and if nothing else it should inspire a few others to build them. I know I will.

  5. @Robert: “Your grand parents did these things daily and thought nothing about it. During WWII most Americans recycled and scrimped more than you ever will.”

    I hope that when I become a grandparent I don’t hold it against my kids and grandkids that their lives are in so many ways better than mine.

  6. I like this idea. But where are the directions for the pipes and materials inside the bin? Sure would love to read them! My hubster wants our compot pile contained. Your awesome DIY tumbler can make it happen!

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