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Leaky Water Barrel Turned Basic Compost Bin, With Tutorial

A while back, my in-laws had given us one of those huge water barrels. I was stoked to not have the fork over the money to buy one because I had just been recycling our bottles the last few years. for water storage.  We waited a while to clean it out (’til we were moved and settled in the new place) and fill it up and I was really bummed to find that it had a leak. I told my husband to go put it on our utility trailer and that we’d have to take it to the dump but I outwardly wished that we could find someone that would have a use for it. My husband chimed in and said “Why don’t we re-use it”…DUH! I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that because that is so unlike me, but it’s good my husband was there to pick up the slack.
Anyway, I thought about it for a couple of weeks and decided that it would be a good container to make a compost bin out of. I just had to decide how I wanted to do it, borrow a jig saw, pick up some free wood off of the classifieds, get the baby down for a nap and the other two settled and I was able to begin.
*There are many ways to make a compost bin, this is just how I decided to make ours.*
The whole reason that I am doing a compost bin is because it will make our soil, and food, more nutrient dense. Plus, it really cuts down on our green waste. Just in the last few weeks I’ve noticed that we go through less trash bags, so that’s a plus too! Maybe it’s dumb, but I made the comment to my husband that I was so excited about having a scrap bucket in the kitchen…it makes me feel all rural ;). I guess it’s just one step closer to being self-sufficient.
 Now on to the build.

Like I had said before, I just started out with a barrel. I think this is one that is about 55 gallons.

I decided that I was going to cut the top off in a way that would allow me to use the top as a lid, so I drilled a hole in it just big enough to give the jig saw enough room to get in and start making a cut. I tried to make the cut as even as I could, but it’s far from perfect.

Once the top was off I realized just how sharp the cut edge was on the barrel so I used a sanding attachment on my drill and sanded the edges down.
I sanded them down on the lid too.
Next, I decided where I wanted the hole in the bottom of the barrel, drilled another starter hole for the jig-saw, and cut a wide circle out of the bottom. I left enough edge space so that I could mount it on to the base that I was going to make later.
Then I drilled about 16 holes all around the barrel because I read somewhere that compost bins need to have some circulation.
Next was the base. I really lucked out in finding this wood on the Classifieds for free. Many of the pieces were already pre-cut to a length that could work so I just evened up a few of the boards and made due.
I started out my making two simple platforms for the barrel to sit on. I just used some wood screws that I had on hand.
Next, I attached these platforms to the barrel by using screws and a small piece of wood.
A view of them from the inside. If I were willing to spend the money, I think that it would have ended up a little bit sturdier if I had used bolts instead of screws, but I was not willing to take all the kids to Home Depot when I could make it work with what I had.
I braced the platforms on the front and the back. 
Next, I boarded up the sides and the back. This part was giving me lots of flash-backs to when my friend Katie and I made a wooden toilet for our fort when we were (silly) kids.
I wanted the worms to have easy access, so I cleared out all the rocks that were in the spot I decided to put the composter…right between the chimney and the shed. It fits with only a couple of inches to spare…YAY!
This is just some of the clippings and such I had been hanging on to, for the composter, until I had it finished. I had been saving scraps for about two weeks prior and it still didn’t even fill more than the very bottom part where the wood is.
Here it is in its place. Snug as a bug!
I didn’t really want a big green barrel just chillin’ out in my yard, so I’m pretty happy that you have to walk right up to it to even be able to see it. This is the view from the walk-way by the chimney.
Here it is in use.
I’ve been making sure to water it really well, and we (the girls and I) saw some compost in the bottom of it yesterday.  Though, I think it’ll be a couple more weeks before we have enough to cover our small garden area. 
*If you need help deciding what can go in a compost bin, this chart is pretty awesome! I am a little more picky though, I only use paper that has not been dyed or bleached, and only kitchen scraps that are from organic fruits/veggies. 

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