DIY Compost Bin for under $10

DIY Compost Bin

After purchasing a house this past spring with a modest little yard, I’ve been looking forward to setting up my very own, very first veggie garden. We’re a little soil-challenged here in Arizona, as our natural soil has a really high clay content. I’ve started with some raised beds and seed starters, but remembered back to my childhood always having a “compost pile” at my grandmother’s house. Food scraps went in one bin, garbage in another. I remember how their garden was beautiful and bountiful, with both flowers and vegetables.  Beyond the gardening benefit, I liked the logical appeal of composting- less waste, less taking the trash out, less STINKY trash (!!!) and much better for the environment.

My first step was a little online shopping which led me to a number of composters at hardware stores and nurseries, but they all rang in at over $50, for even the most basic models. Some were even over $200. Not quite an investment I’m ready for as a VERY entry level gardener. Of course, more digging around online led me to some awesome posts on making DIY composters. Some seriously on the cheap! Here’s how I put mine together, for under ten dollars.

I picked a Sterilite 120 quart plastic container from Target, which ran $9.50. They had ones a little smaller for $4, but I wanted to have enough room for a good supply of scraps and compost as I have one raised bed and several more planned. It’s by no means large, but I figure I can upgrade later if I find it’s not enough. I picked one that was not see through, as I wasn’t sure how the light penetration would effect the composting. Many people probably have one of these lying around anyway!


Next, I took a 5/16″ drill bit and put some holes along all sides as well as the top and bottom. Oxygen is a key component to the process- the bacteria that breaks everything down into rich soil thrives in the presence of oxygen. Here’s a pic of the drill bit that worked well after trying a few others:

composter 1

I brought my bin outside and added some dead leaves I collected in my neighborhood for my “browns”. You can also use things like shredded newspaper, cardboard, wood chips, etc. Here is a great outline on what should and shouldn’t go in your compost bin. Also, please excuse my slippers :)

composter 2

Next, I added my “greens” which were my food scraps. Mine included some fruit rinds, egg shells, coffee grounds, loose leaf tea, and some old veggies and salad mix I didn’t get to in time before they started to spoil. Quite the colorful array! To finish, I topped with a little bit more leaves to keep the smell down.

composter 3

I drug the box over to a shady area over gravel so it easily drains. It just needs to be stirred every week or two, and in a few months you’ll have nutrient rich soil to help your garden grow! I’ll be sure to update as my compost progresses. Any awesome composting tips? Share in the comments and we’ll  feature them on the update post!

composter 4b