Plastic Container Bin

Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters

1. Any container, of any size, with a lid may be used. Drill holes, about dime-sized, in the bottom of of the container and also two inches up from the bottom around the side walls.

Medium-sized plastic container with holes in the bottom
Medium-sized plastic container with holes in the side near the bottom
Small plastic container with holes in the bottom
Small plastic container with holes in the side near the bottom

2. Slightly elevate the container with two pieces of wood underneath it. This allows for drainage and air intake.

Medium-sized plastic bin elevated on two pieces of wood near edge of container
Small plastic bin elevated on two pieces of wood near edge of container

3. Place about three inches of coarse bulking material at the bottom of the bin. This allows for upward convective air flow through the bin.

Medium-sized plastic bin with small pieces of wood in bottom
Small plastic bin with small pieces of wood in the bottom

4. Add organic material (greens and browns) as it becomes available. After five inches of organics then add another two inches of bulking. Continue this process. Bulk as you build.

Medium-sized plastic bin with organic materials added
Small plastic bin with organic materials added

5. After you have finished adding new material, drape a piece of plastic over the inside contents, then replace the top cover. (Remove the plastic each time you add new organics. Then replace on top after the new addition.)

Medium-sized plastic bin with round of plastic covering bin contents
Medium-sized plastic biin with top cover

Additional comments for Plastic Container Bin method:

  • If shade is not available, the bin may be covered with two layers of shade fabric or cardboard.
  • Maintain a moisture level in the organic materials that it is similar to the moisture content of freshly brewed coffee grounds, saturated but not dripping.
  • In order to harvest finished compost from this bin, after about six months of decomposition, dump the contents on a tarp. Separate out the undecomposed organics and return them to the bin and continue the process. Finished compost may be added to garden soil.

Please read our brochure Composting in the Desert.

If you have questions you may send them in an email to compost-questions@nmcomposters.org.

To see other styles of homemade compost bins see Homemade Compost Bins for the Desert.

Photos are by Mike Stoy.