Introduction: Terracotta Home Composter

Picture of Terracotta Home Composter
Added after the comments:
Thanks to and their presentations

In our society most of the people are unconvinced about composting. Why would anyone want a big pile of rotting food in their yard or home? But composting is good for everybody.
Here in this instructable we will see about the myths and pros of composting.
What people have to say about composting?
1. They are smelly.
2. They look bad when done at home
3. But I don’t have a garden
4. it’s not my job (I pay taxes)
5. I do not have the time
6. I have tried. It didn’t work
7. I live in an apartment
What composters have to say about composting?
1. Waste Reduction
Fewer compostable in the landfills mean less landfill mass. Reducing the amount of stuff in our landfills directly affects all of us. When they try and build new landfills, they may try and build it in your backyard. Which is worse? A bucket of compost or a nearby landfill filled with rats?
2. Free Fertilizer
Why buy something you can make for free?
3. Better Soil
Are you trying to keep up with your neighbors and their extravagant lawn? How much money do you think your neighbor pay to have such lush grass? You can have superior soil without paying a dime by composting.
4. A Superior Garden
Composting creates a healthier garden with better soil, and you'll be using a superior fertilizer. In the end, you'll be able to grow more and better crops for less money. If you're going to garden, why not do it right?
Here is the most eco friendly and long term solution to get better compost without the hassles.

Step 1:

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Composting with earthen (terracotta) pots
Ingredients required:
1. 3 Terracotta pots at least 1 feet height and size such that they can stand one over the other without getting inside.
2. Terracotta plate (to cover the composter)

Step 2:

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Take 3 terracotta pots (Pot A, B and C) and drill holes (1 inch diameter) on the sides. These will be used for air circulation.
Also make large holes (3 inch diameter) on the base of 2 of the pots (Pot A and B). These holes will be used to drain leechate. Make sure you leave the third pot without hole in the bottom. This pot will be the bottom most pot.

Step 3:

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Stack the pots one over the other. Make sure that the bottom pot (Pot C) being the pot without the hole in the bottom.
Put a layer of newspaper in the pot A and Pot B so that the materials other than water do not drop into the layers below.
Cover the composter with the terracotta lid to prevent rodents or flies.
Your composter is ready to compost. Put the composter in an airy place such as garden or terrace to increase air circulation this increasing composting process.

Step 4:

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Separate kitchen wastes into compostable and non compostable items.
Save the compostable items for the day. At the end of the day you can add the composts in the composter.
Composter Process:
Start adding the kitchen waste to the composter (Pot A)
When the Pot A is 3/4 full, switch the Pots A and B. And start adding the materials in Pot B which is now at the top.
When the Pot B gets filled 3/4 the ingredients in Pot A has shrunken.
You can again switch the Pots A and B
When the middle tear pot gets almost filled 3/4, empty the middle tear Pot to Pot C
 And start the process all over again.
The final contents of Pot C starts shrinking and thus more materials can be added from the middle tear Pot to Pot C.
When Pot C gets filled 3/4 empty the pot before starting to fill the Pot C again.
At this point the contents of Pot C has decomposed completely.
Sieve the contents of Pot C and you get perfectly good non-smelling manure (compost).
The larger pieces that are left after sieving can be added to the Pot at the top for further decomposing.
Keep the compost little damp by sprinkling water in the upper Pot occasionally.
The whole process takes around 90 days.

Step 5:

Why is the terracotta pots used?
We are using the terracotta pots to absorb the excess humidity and fluid which is secreted during the composting process.
Why are the Bottom holes?
The bottom holes are used to drip and pass the excess fluid to the collector Pot (Pot C).
What about mosquitoes or flies?
No mosquitoes or flies have appeared in any of my composters. The only insects appearing are fruit flies which live happily inside as long as their food is inside. Fruit flies help speed up the composting.

Step 6:

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The terracotta pots can be colored to add to the looks of your terrace garden.
Make sure that the pots do not get totally drenched by rain or over watering or else the composter freaks out and composting process gets out of hand.

Answering the points in step 1
1. They are smelly
Not at all. The holes drilled on the sides circulates ample air to keep it fresh and healthy.
2. They look bad when done at home
Terracotta pots can be colored.
3. But I don’t have a garden
Sell the compost! Better! Gift it to a Gardener friend.
4. it’s not my job (I pay taxes)
Ever body can do it! Do it to save the land fills. Less land fills means more trees!
5. I do not have the time
ust takes 1/2 a day to setup and it sustains by itself.
6. I have tried. It didn’t work
Why not try again!
7. I live in an apartment
You can do it on the terrace, or near the window!

Added after the comments:
Thanks to and their presentations


VrushaliL (author)2017-03-04

Can you suggest store/chains that have big and reasonable price terracotta pots that can be used for this type of composting?

artworker (author)VrushaliL2017-03-05

In India we get the pots from our street-corner gardening store.

You can also get them here:

Xian HuiG (author)artworker2017-03-25

According to the instructions, the pots should stand one over the other without getting inside. But that is not the case for the Walmart clay pots so I am getting confused here.

artworker (author)Xian HuiG2017-03-26

According to the instructable pitchers work best. If you use other designs of pots, you need to make something that will hold them and place them one on top of the other. My idea will be wooden rings which can be placed on top of the pot without falling inside and the base of the pot can sit on it too.

Check this out for the original design.

betterways (author)2016-07-12

Very attractive system. Much nicer than my stacking 5 gallon buckets. It could also be used for vermicomposting as is my bucket system. .

artworker (author)betterways2016-07-12

Vermicompost works beautifully and speeds up the compost process like turbo charge!

KimB100 (author)2016-05-18

Awesome Idea. And Pretty

mayurh (author)2014-10-14

thanks for sharing. but 'daily dump' also provides compost accelerator. did u use one?

artworker (author)mayurh2014-10-14

Noo! I prefer not using any chemicals (i don't know if accelerator has any chemicals)! After the second batch the composting process speeds up pretty fast. I just sprinkle a handful of the final compost from the previous batch. In the autumn and spring I also add some earthworms. They are extremely hungry at that time.

mayurh (author)artworker2014-10-19

thanks for reply. Well, I already bought one post from daily dump clone based in mumbai. It came along with an accelerator that has to be put on top of the waste. So far so good.

My question is, didn't it smell rotten whenever you open d lid, because it does in my case even if I sprinkled compost accelerator.

NidhiH1 (author)mayurh2016-02-08

Mayur please share the address of the place you bought it from. Can you please mail me at I am very keen to do this.

artworker (author)mayurh2014-10-26

Please read the instructions on the accelerator. I don't know how it works. Also check the water. Just a little sprinkle goes a long way.

VidyaR1 (author)2015-07-19

vijaya lakshmiP (author)2015-06-08

Thank you very much for the immediate reply. I just soaked it for an hour or so and used a drilling machine . I will try your method (slow drilling) in a couple of days. Thank you !

vijaya lakshmiP (author)2015-06-08

It looks functional and cheap when compared to dailydump products. But my terracotta pots were broken when drilling holes. If we use plastic containers, leaching of toxins may occur(I don't know much about this but heard/read somewhere). So can you please suggest any tips in making holes for these terracotta pots? All other instructions are very clear.Thank you.

Soak the pots in water overnight. Then use a (+) plus screwdriver and rotate it by hand (idea is to drill slow). The red earth will come out and you will get a beautiful hole. More information on Step 4 of

maria.c.lecompte (author)2014-11-24

Its a very nice idea but its not clear what kind of composter you are using. Is the composter worms?

No! Worms can be added for acceleration of the composting procedure. This composter just needs warmth and humidity (not wet) to start. The composting procedure starts by itself. Adding handful of compost from the last batch also helps accelerating the composting process.

mayurh (author)2014-10-14

thanks. but daily dump also provides compost acceleartor. did u add one?

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-02-08

Functional and looks great. Impressive

abunda (author)2013-10-21

Hello? Did you tried it? Does it work well?

artworker (author)abunda2013-10-21

You bet it works well! I have created tons of compost from my kitchen! Try it! It does not smell at all!

anuaneesh (author)2013-07-25

we are living in an appartment , and we have a small balcony (near to our bedroom) , where we will keep this compost bin?

artworker (author)anuaneesh2013-07-25

I too have a small balcony. I currently am using a single bin composter (just one teracotta pot. I keep it covered with a newspaper with a plastic plate over it. I have surrounded the composter with 4-5 plants (moneyplant, and flowering creepers). It does not smell and no flies!

drichard58 (author)2010-06-12

From the pictures it looks like you have put some sort of cording or other material in the holes at the bottoms of the pots. Is this to hold the pots together? Did I miss that in the instructable? Great idea! I have tons of terracotta pots and never enough compost.

artworker (author)drichard582010-06-13

The images are taken from The pots that the Dailydump guys have are totally open from the bottom. They use nylon chord mesh (like in a tennis racquet) to hold on to the raw materials. I thought why not drill holes instead into fresh pots. This way we can save on the nylon chords (non biodegradable). I will show my own images once my composter is stebilized. My composter is presently in the first cycle only.

Myrloc (author)artworker2013-03-24

How has the composter worked out for you...?

1Maribelle (author)2013-02-18

Many thanks. Am now living in an 2nd story apartment so no garden this time and no balcony. Also my city does not offer green bin pick Up at my address - this is Toronto's free food waste pick Up - and after years of being able to give the city y food waste or composting in the garden I do not feel good throwing my food waste in the garbage.

Thanks again for providing such an elegant solution.

artworker (author)1Maribelle2013-02-18

You are welcome!

Ranie-K (author)2013-01-10

Are these your pictures? Is this your text?

artworker (author)Ranie-K2013-01-10

no! and no! I made something very much similar. The credits to the idea goes to

badart (author)2012-02-25

What a beautiful and practical idea.

joen (author)2011-11-14

If you can't find terracotta pots you can do the same thing with 5 gallon plastic buckets with lids from the home center. The lids are easy to cut a large hole in and you can cut all the holes you want in the bottoms and sides. And they stack perfectly.

Mine has been doing very well for over a year and the compost worked well in my sister's garden.
Thanks for the idea.

blastedcelt (author)2011-05-22

This is a fabulous idea! Beautiful and practical at the same time. Too bad the Daily Dump doesn't sell their products here in North America. I guess it's up to us to make them on our own. I love their website...great sense of humor!

a_abbond (author)2010-06-18

brilliant idea! I have been thinking that this type of composter could be done using milkcrates. They stack one on top of each other, have plenty of air holes. Handles to carry them easily. All you need is the paper journal, a lid, and a base plate if it's not directly on the ground! Now the trick would be to make them look nice :) (although black milkcrates would keep the heat which is good for composting) I will make one and post the instructable when I'm done!

a_abbond (author)a_abbond2010-07-17

Here's my milkcrate version of this composter. It works great so far!

ubermama (author)2010-07-11

What a beautiful system! The management would never know what we were doing. I'm actually not sure if we are allowed to compost but who could complain about a system this lovely looking, especially if there are no smells? Thanks for posting and I do hope to try this. I think I may have to also have another composting system since my family is large and we produce a lot of fruit/veggie waste. I have noticed that most of the other systems take about 2 weeks and this one takes 90 days to get compost, which I wouldn't really mind either.

misspinetrees (author)2010-06-01

 pretty! cant wait to try it.

kuchinskas (author)2010-05-20

What do you use to drill the holes? I've used 3" wood bits -- and it's not all that easy to drill a clean hole in wood with them. Is there a 3" masonry bit? Do you have to go to a special store to find one?

Do you drill a pilot hole first? How do you keep the bit from skittering around when you're starting the hole?


artworker (author)kuchinskas2010-05-20

I did the holes with a screwdriver and mallet, chipping of small parts. The hole should not be regular. Just big enough to drain the leechate (fluid). Wetting the pot and making few guide holes before punching makes it easier. Use a file to finish the holes if you require a good finish.

kuchinskas (author)artworker2010-05-20

Wow, that sounds kind of labor-intensive and pot-cracking -- but comfortably low-tech. Thanks for the clarification.

artworker (author)kuchinskas2010-05-20

I don't have much tools. So I improvise.
The pots won't crack. Just make sure you don't blow hard.

tshallow74 (author)2010-05-17

 I'm confused. I do not see how you put the pots you show in step 1 together without falling into each other.  Also where do you get covers for the pots?

Pwag (author)tshallow742010-05-18

 I don't want to come off as a jerk, but the reason you are confused is because this is only an idea-giver. Not really an instructable (much better than the NONE I've written mind you) but certianly puts an idea in the head to make one.

Too bad there's no pics of the one artworker made.

artworker (author)tshallow742010-05-17

There are lots of terracotta pots available. Just got to do some R&D with the pots how they balance. The V shaped pots will require additional cover plates for each to hold them in place. Just make sure to drill the plates too. I got the pots and covers from my local gardener.

kaykatz (author)2010-05-17

My worms would like to live in a nice high rise like that. 

Probably not, Hyderabad is almost 350 miles from Pune. 

BTW the site linked from your site, is a pretty neat site.

Don't worry/confuse me like that... You mean linked the daaram site (I hope)


Now I'm confused...? Dailydump is the parent site, the daaram site is a "clone" (reseller, spinoff, whatever)

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a hobist with lots of hobies from carpentry to mechanics. There is hardly any thing that i am not interested in.
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