• In this video, Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada gets a lesson on the best ways to compost organic materials at home.

    1. Sort organics to throw in the compost bin, like fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, and egg shells for carbon and dry leaves, newspaper, or cardboard for nitrogen. Do not use meat, dairy, oils, or bones in compost.
    2. To build your own composter, use a 32-gallon trash barrel and drill several 5/16-inch holes using the cordless drill on the cover of the garbage can and up and down the sides for aeration.
    3. Add organic matter to the compost bin. It should be a 3:1 ratio of carbon items to nitrogen.
    4. Aerate the pile at least once a week, stirring the compost and getting the materials to break down.
    5. Finished compost should be ready for use in several months.
    • 20 minutes to make composting bin; Minutes each week to throw out trash and aerate bin
    • $50 and up for a commercial composter; $15-20 for garbage can
    • Difficulty: None
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      Tools List

      • drill
        Cordless drill, for making holes in the garbage can
      • 5/16-inch drill bit
        5/16 drill bit, for making holes in the garbage can
      • extension pole
        Pole, to stir compost for aeration

      Shopping List

      32-gallon plastic garbage can