Some of my most popular videos are balcony composting videos…I made them a long time ago using really small buckets.
While this method does work, you’ll get better results with a bigger bin.
Every time I respond to a comment on those videos, I always mention using a trash can.
While both a cat litter bucket and a trash can are considered “cold” composting, I’ve found that the more volume, the better. It allows for more material, it’ll insulate itself a bit better, and you need volume in order to get the process really going.
Watch the video above and apply that design to your balcony/confined space if at all possible- your results will be much, much better!
I realized that after I made my balcony composting videos, that I was shortchanging people in a sense- if you have the space to use a garbage can instead of a kitty litter container or a 5 gallon bucket, please do so!
I received the above picture from a crazy composter named Marilee, and I had to share it with you. Great job, Marilee!
One of the most important factors for composting is VOLUME. Therefore, the more volume you have, the better your results will be, given your materials added are appropriate.
I tend to do that a lot- when my pile is just hovering at the 100F mark, I’ll go clean up the block and shred a few bags’ worth of leaves, soak them and add to the pile.
Anyway, trash can composting is simple. Here’s all you need to do it:
-Drill holes in the sides and in the bottom.
-Add 6″ of shredded leaves/hay/straw first. This is your “sponge” to help absorb runoff.
-Add a handful of dirt, and perhaps some finished compost if you have it.
-Add food scraps. Each time you do so, add an equal amount of brown materials.
-Collect the leachate underneath in a pan or bucket. Dump it back in through the top.
-Watch how useless your trash can becomes.
Trash can composting is an effective way to compost at home without spending a ton of money on a compost tumbler or big clunky compost bin.
Are the results as good?
With attention to a few key factors, the answer is definitely yes.
For composting to work well, you need to primarily pay attention to airflow, volume, moisture, and contents.
The above picture was sent in to me, and I love it. Up to this point, I’ve composted in cramped spaces using small kitty litter buckets, but haven’t had a trash can to try.
Realistically, it’s about the same footprint and you’ll get better results due to the capacity.
For a successful trash can composter, make sure you drill plenty of holes- composting needs oxygen. Lots of commercially available composting systems have poor ventilation, and that’s why people complain they have soggy materials inside.
Drill holes in the bottom, too- it’s good for airflow, and also for drainage. It helps to put the trash can up on a pair of cinder blocks or bricks, and place a tray/bucket underneath to catch all the leachate. When this fills up, just dump it back in.
Leachate has nutrients in it, and you might as well put them back in the system. Further, to prevent leachate from running out like crazy, make sure you start the composter with a good six inches of shredded brown materials like leaves, straw, or hay in order to absorb the excess.
After that, just go back and forth between brown and green materials. It also helps to add a handful of browns with each deposit of food scraps to balance it out.
Do you have experience composting like this? Let me know how it’s been.
It’s definitely a cheap and easy way to compost when you don’t have a lot of space but can’t stand throwing “away” your organic materials to the landfill.