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Temp compost start in a plastic tote/bin?

I work at a health food store and the kitchen said I can have all the scrap to start my compost bin. All organic scrap ;)

I have a small yard and live in a trailor park, so my neighbor will complain about seeing a compost pile. Can I start a small compost in one of those plastic tote/bins? Stores usually sell them for $5 bucks each or so. Would that work for now until I can think of something to rig up that won't bother the neighbor?

How long will it be from the start before it breaks down enough to be used on the garden? I will have tons of rotting/bruised produce, egg shells and coffee grinds. Maybe 10% grass clippings.


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Sounds like you need to think about worm composting (aka vermicomposting). It is done in bins sort of like that (I think- I've never done worm composting)

To start with, try typing vermicomposting into the Keyword box that comes up when you click on Search the Forum. It brings up 6 pages of listings of all the posts about it, that will give you lots of info.

To start you off, here's a nice one with some step by step photos about setting up a worm bin:


As far as doing regular composting in a bin like that, not so much:

It would need to have a lot of air holes, composting is an aerobic process. But it is also just too small. Regular compost piles work best when they get to be about the size of a 3' cube, more or less.

In the meantime, the stuff you are talking about composting would make good worm food. For a compost pile, you need a balance of "greens" (soft/moist) and "browns" (dry/hard) (see the greens/ browns sticky at the beginning of this section). Everything you mentioned is a green (yes including the coffee grounds-- it's really not about color). Just making a pile of greens, it doesn't break down very well, tends to turn into a slimy stinky mess. To make a regular pile you would need to layer your ingredients with some browns (fall leaves, shredded office paper/ newspaper/ cardboard, sawdust, straw, etc).

Your tote bin also doesn't work real well for turning, stirring your compost or for getting finished compost (which will tend to be at the bottom) back out of the bin.

Regular plastic compost bins (see picture here:


have a door at the top to put fresh stuff in and a door at the bottom to pull finished compost out.

I don't see why a bin like the one pictured would be any more offensive to the neighbors than the tote bin.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Sounds like you need to think about worm composting (aka vermicomposting). It is done in bins sort of like that (I think- I've never done worm composting)
A regular plastic tote should be fine for vermicomposting. You do need to make sure that there are holes drilled in the sides and lid to ensure that you're not suffocating your compost.

An indoor worm bin should be more wide and long than deep. I usually deposit all of my organic material into one side by scraping off the top layer of soil, dropping stuff into a specific side or corner, and then piling it all back.

Since I had to make a deposit tonight anyway, I took some pictures of my indoor vermicompost to show you. Keep in mind this is my new red wriggler experiment, so it's not as big as I would like my final compost to be, but it's a nice indoor size and fits on top of my dishwasher.

I don't really know how upload pictures on to here, so I uploaded them to my live journal and created a gallery for you complete with commentary. I hope that helps. :)


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