Mini compost bins are a great solution for small gardens. Not everyone lives on acreage, but we all love to grow at least something in our flowerbeds, backyard gardens or in pots.

One of the healthiest things to add to our soil is compost, but who has the room to build a huge pile in the backyard? Truthfully, you don’t need a big space to build a compost pile. Follow these directions and have the best of both worlds!

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What is Compost?

Compost is a method of layering one part ‘green’ (or wet materials, such as fresh grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps, etc.) to two parts ‘brown’ (dry, such as leaves, old hay, etc.) materials. Add a little water, allow for air circulation, give it some time and you have what gardeners call ‘black gold’. It can be solid, as described here, or also made into Compost Tea.

Small Scale Composting

For small scale composting, just follow these easy directions:

You need a minimum of three plastic crates. They need to either have holes in them for drainage and air circulation, or you will need to make holes.  These work great– Just be sure to line the bottoms with small-gauge wire to keep your compost from falling out.

For the wire, I used 1/4″ to 1/2″  hardware cloth – also called chicken wire. To cut the wire, you need wire cutters and heavy gloves, to protect your hands.  To hold the cut hardware in place, I used thin wire

Measure the bottom and all four sides of your crates.  Cut hardware cloth to fit.  Place the bottom cloth in the crate first.  Then slide each side piece in position, securing with a piece of wire.

It’s as easy as that!  Now, your compost bins are ready to be filled.

To Fill Your Bins

Place a layer of brown material in the bottom. Layer with some green material. Keeping layering until the container is full. Water gently – enough to get the ingredients wet, but not dripping.

If you aren’t sure, dig into the center of the pile. If it is moist, great. If it is dry, give it a little more water. Let sit for three weeks, continuing to lightly water as needed.

At the end of three weeks, ‘turn’ your compost by pouring it into your second container. You should see that it has started to break down somewhat. If not, add a little more ‘heat’ by mixing in some more green matter. Lightly moisten it, and let it sit. In the meantime, fill up your first container again by using the same layering method.

Let both sit for another two to three weeks. Dump Container 2 into Container 3, and Container 1 into Container 2. Fill Container one again with raw materials, and start over. At the end of another three weeks, Container 3 should be broken down enough to spread out in your garden, or to mix in with the soil for your pots. You will also have two more bins in working progress.

Mini compost bins are the perfect solution to small gardens. It just doesn’t get any easier than this, and your flowers, herbs and vegetables will love it!

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Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

2 Comments

  1. I LOVE this idea, Julie! I would totally do this if I only needed a small amount of compost. Unfortunately, my garden area is HUGE and I have a lot of manure to deal with, so for now I have to muscle big piles!

    1. Author

      We need huge amounts as well. But I do love my mini compost bins for adding compost to containers and ‘spot’ fertilizing. You go, girl! Those huge piles are a lot of work!

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