Friday, July 01, 2022

#Throwback Thursday: Composting Without a Compost Pile

My former wire bin composter.

During the early years we had shore access. Four years ago our lease required us to remove our stairs to the outhouse (decommissioned in 2018 for an on-float compost toilet), my hillside potato patch, and my compost bin. I had to find an alternative for composting kitchen and garden waste on the cabin deck or in my floating garden.

One method I learned about is called chop and drop. Chop and drop works well for garden waste.

As plants are trimmed or removed, the residue is chopped into small portions and used as mulch in garden beds and plant containers. The majority of my composting needs are taken care of in this manner.

Cutting a plastic 55-gallon barrel in half.
It doesn't work as well for kitchen scraps because the smell can attract critters. I decided to compost kitchen waste in a 55-gallon plastic barrel cut in half. Barrels in my town cost about $40. Check nursery, building and farm stores, or use a large plastic trash can that isn't too deep.

Now that last year's batch of soil is ready to use, I'm starting over.

Composting in a Plastic Barrel
Step by Step

A kitchen compost container.
Cut the barrel in half. Drill drain holes in the bottom. Make two composters or use the other half as a planter.

Place four inches of soil in the bottom to start.

Use a kitchen compost container for fruit and vegetable trimmings chopped into pieces.

Layering chopped plant matter, Rot-It and soil.
When the container is full, spread the contents over the layer of soil.

Add garden trimmings if you have them.

Sprinkle with compost accelerator. I use Rot-It.

Moisten with water.

Add 1" of soil over fresh items.

A cover cut to fit and a plastic mesh cage.
Cover with a porous material and surround with a cage to keep small critters out. If you live in bear country, enclose your composter.

When it's time to add a new layer, stir the ones below first.

Continue layering waste and soil until the barrel is full.

Let your composter rest with it's porous cover on for several months while the organic matter decomposes. Periodically moisten and mix to encourage the composting process.

Compost turned into rich soil in 8 months.

Your rewards will be less kitchen and garden waste going into the garbage stream, and free rich soil coming into your garden.

Do you do compost? What process do you use? Do you have any tips to add to my post? -- Margy

If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, or in town with a simple lifestyle, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.

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Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Visit Simple Life Mom for ideas about homesteading and simple living.

And Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop at Ridge Haven Homestead.

Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday.


  1. Living in a city I have the luxury of not having to do it myself. All food and garden waste is collected once a week by the local council and is used to make compost. The food waste is coverted into a fertiliser for local farms.

  2. You compost well! I have nothing to add. We have three bins in our back yard for compost - rotating each one as it fills. We've had to completely enclose them with wire mesh as, being in a port city, there are rats. We have a wire mesh lid to allow for air circulation. Improving garden soil is so important for productive crops.

  3. Dear Margy,
    you've come up with an ingenious way to compost your kitchen waste, and it's also smart to mulch with the garden waste. Necessity is the mother of invention!
    We are fortunate that our garden is large enough to use three compost heaps for the "three chamber method". That means we move the compost from one heap to the next once or twice a year.
    All the best from Austria,

  4. Very interesting, Margy!! Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

  5. You have tackled the composting really well.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy