Iron Earth Canada

DIY Compost Bin

Picture of a DIY compost bin on the IRON EARTH™ Gardening Tips Blog.

Okay, so we all know about the magical and soil remediating properties of organic compost, and yet we still procrastinate when it comes to starting our own healing heap of soon-to-be humus.

Well, procrastinate no more! Learning the basics of composting and creating a backyard bin has never been easier!

As mentioned in an earlier post, a compost bin is not actually necessary to successfully compost – simply designating a small plot of land for compost/organic matter is enough – but, if outdoor space is a problem, a simple bin is an ideal solution.

To create your own compost bin, all you need is a simple trash can and a drill (with paddle bit). Simply drill holes in rows along the sides of the trash can and, voila! You now have a ready-to-use compost bin.

How to make a compost bin


  • Plastic Trash Can 
  • Drill
  • Paddle drill bit


If you are recycling an old plastic trash can, it is best to clean it out thoroughly before using it to avoid any lingering contaminants from getting into your composted cure-all. 

After washing, start at the top of the trash can and drill a hole into the side of the can. After drilling the first hole, simply repeat the process by drilling a hole every 3 inches until all sides of the can are completed with rows of drilled holes. Once that’s done, clean out any drilled plastic shards from the can and get your yard waste and kitchen scraps ready to start composting!

Compost containers need not be complicated or stress-inducing. There are a myriad of ways to create a space or container that can be used as a composter. Get creative with untreated lumber, untreated pallets, lattice and other natural materials to build a beautiful and functional home for the healing life force that is your compost.

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Composting tips

Without getting unnecessarily complicated with talk of carbon to nitrogen levels, PH and temperature, an easy rule for the successful composting of organic material is to add 2/3 brown (i.e., carbon-rich) material to 1/3 green (nitrogen-rich) material.

To simplify the process even further, abiding by the Master Gardeners’ ratio of 1:1 (i.e., adding 50 percent carbon-rich material to 50 percent nitrogen-rich material) will also yield great results.

What can you compost?

Green Materials

  • Green plant materials
  • Weeds
  • Coffee Grounds/Tea leaves (loose)
  • Egg Shells (powdered, well-ground to hasten decomposition)
  • Algae
  • Fruit and vegetable peels (chop fruit and veggies well and avoid citrus peels as they are harmful to essential earth worms)
  • Herbivorous animal manure
  • Grass clippings (untreated with pesticide)
  • Hair
  • Wool clothing (chop into confetti-like pieces before adding)
  • Feathers
  • Herbs or spices

Brown Materials

  • Dried grasses
  • Dried leaves
  • Paper towels
  • Paper bags
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Newspaper
  • Dryer lint (from natural, organic fabrics only)
  • Nutshells (no walnut shells – they are toxic to certain plants)
  • Cardboard
  • Chipped Wood
  • Straw
  • Sawdust
  • Wine corks (chopped)
  • Wood ash

With proper aeration and moisture (i.e., it is best to keep compost as moist as a wrung-out sponge), your scraps and refuse will, in time, transform into a crumbly, dark brown soil that can be added to your garden. This newly formed humus (i.e., the end result of compost) will not only help increase the bio-availability of minerals in the soil, but replenish all biota with delicious and necessary nutrients.

Did you find this article helpful?

If so, check out this post where we breakdown all of the do's and don'ts of composting in one easy to follow guide!