The blog-post has step by step descriptions and photos showing the transformation from wheelie bin to compost bin. However, it is not a set of instructions because wheelie bin styles vary and personal preferences may dictate doing things a different way. You are encouraged to comment and share your ideas and experiences of your own wheelie bin composter experience. In time, I will add other posts about the results (the compost, hopefully) and it would be great to see yours too.
To be honest I don’t have a single green finger in any of the ten I possess, so, gardening, weeding and composting are all on a bit of a steep learning curve for me. Still I will persevere!
Now for the disclaimer:
This blog exists because I thought my experience may be of use to others. However, I take no responsibility for your interpretation of my experiences. If you do decide to make your own wheelie bin composter you should observe the following points:
Make sure you own the wheelie bin! The author of this blog does not condone using a wheelie bin provided for the collection of trash, or any other purpose, where the wheelie bin is, effectively, loaned to you.
It may be necessary for you to reuse or acquire additional parts for this project! Always use parts that are suited to the job they will be doing and do not imperil anybody or the correct functioning of other equipment by improper use or reuse of parts.
Safety first! If you undertake a project like this you will need to use a variety of tools and it is entirely your responsibility to ensure your own safety and that of others who may be involved, either passively or actively, in any way.
Now, thank you for visiting and, please, enjoy this blog.
Step 1: The Parts List
Wheelie bin, metal grid, two cabinet hinges, nine air vents. The tap and the tube of adhesive were returned to the store as they were not used. Various nuts and bolts and a door knob (not shown).
The minimum requirements to make the composter.
Design the composter first and obtain the parts you require before building as this saves time hunting down parts or going to the store multiple times.
Step 2: Tools to Do the Job
Screwdriver, 3” hole saw, drill, marker pen, tape measure. Wrenches, a file, metal cutters, wire cutters, a mallet and a jigsaw are not shown.
Assemble the required tools prior to beginning the job.
Step 3: Preparation
Clean inside the wheelie bin. Determine where the parts are going to be fitted and measure / mark out those areas.
A dirty bin may have traces of undesirable materials that may adversely affect the composting process.
Plan first. It makes the job so much easier.
Step 4: The Inside of the Wheelie Bin
The bottom of this particular bin has a very odd shape to accommodate the wheel housing at the back and a grab handle at the front. Extracting the compost at the bottom would not be easy so I fitted the Compost Base Grid above the molded wheel housing where there is also a flat side allowing a hatch to be cut out.
Using a wheelie bin with the least amount of narrowing towards the bottom of the bin will reduce the opportunity for the compost to clog. Flat sides with wheel fittings, etc., on the outside of the bin will increase the useable space inside.
Step 5: Compost Base Grid
This started life as a fire pit and needed the edges removed in order to fit the space in the wheelie bin.
The grid acts as a base for the compost material while ensuring good airflow from the bottom to the top of the bin.
The edges were cut off with metal cutters and the grid snipped away from the edges with wire cutters.
Use a metal or plastic grill with small holes to minimize compost material falling through. A large number of holes are good for the airflow.
Step 6: Fitting the Compost Base Grid
The curving corners and the way the sides of the bin are molded made precise measurements difficult.
The grid was put in place and then each side was modified to fit the contours of the bin.
Measure twice and cut once!
Step 7: Cut the Holes for the Air Vents
The air vents are 3” diameter plastic floor drains from the local hardware store.
Good airflow is essential to healthy composting.
A hole saw with a pilot drill is a good tool for cutting large holes. Use it like any saw, stopping and starting frequently during the cutting process rather than cutting through in one go as the tool can ‘grab’ the material and it can get very hot. A rough file was used to remove the plastic swarf. To fit the air vents, Gently tap them into position with a rubber mallet. The vents fitted perfectly and did not require any fixings to hold them in place.
Save money by drilling holes with a regular drill bit but this is time consuming and rarely looks as neat.
Step 8: Completed Wheelie Bin Composter
The project, from initial planning to completion, took five hours but if I were to build another then I expect it would take less than three hours. The cost of the parts I bought, the air vents, was $23.13. Everything else was found in the garage. I had to buy the hole saw and that was a further $17.97.
The aesthetics may be improved by painting the white air vents and the heads of the exposed bolts.
Step 9: Completed Wheelie Bin Composter
The hatch was fitted on the rear of the wheelie bin because the wall is flatter than the front.
The bin can be wheeled to where it is required, the hatch opened and the compost scooped out directly on to the ground where it is needed.
Step 10: The Compost Hatch
The bottom of the hatch is just above the grill and the hinges are the type used on modern cabinet doors. They are spring loaded and the light weight of the hatch means that the hinges hold the door open and closed without the need for a latch.
To easily extract the fresh compost.
The hatch is 8” high and the full width of the bin, in this case, 14”. It was measured, marked and then each of the corners was drilled using a drill wide enough to allow a jigsaw blade through. The jigsaw was used to cut the straight edges of the panel. A rough file was used to remove the plastic swarf. The panel was fitted to the hinges and the knob added.
If you use conventional hinges add an eye to the hatch and a fit a hook above on the bin wall. Use the hook and eye to hold the hatch open when extracting the compost.
Step 11: Start Using the Compost Bin
Fill the bin with fruit and vegetable waste, old flowers, grass clipping and general green garden waste. It is not advisable to add weeds as the seeds may spout when the compost is applied to the soil. Neither should you add processed food, bread, meat, dairy products or excrement as this can make the bin smell and may attract undesirable attention from animals and vermin. Keep the compost material damp but not wet and nature will take over and breakdown the material into compost.
Eggshells but not eggs can be composted.
Step 12: The WBC Lives Here
The WBC is tucked out of the way on the south of the property so it benefits from the fullest sun and, therefore, heat which may help to speed the composting process.
Open the lid when it rains to get a free watering.