Rotting Veggies Rule (Or How to Make a Compost Bin on Your Balcony)

My whole family is into rotting garbage. We all compost. We always have. OK, I didn’t do it in college. I was too busy buying fifty pairs of bad Steve Madden platforms that ripped up my feet as I staggered home from the bar with my sorority sisters. If I’m being honest with myself (and you), I didn’t do it in grad school either. Now that I’m an adult (hush, Mom), I’m having anxiety about throwing away potato peels. It’s time to compost.

The city of Los Angeles provides free bins, but they’re enormous — like the size of a Smart Car — enormous. I wouldn’t have room on my tiny balcony for my contraband grill or my herb garden if I used the free bin. There wouldn’t be much point in making soil if I didn’t have an herb garden to put it in, so I need the herb harden. And I need the grill for the one day a year I feel grilling steak for someone.

The solution? Make my own compost bin.

Here’s how I did it:

I bought a Rubbermaid container from Home Depot and set to work. I can’t do anything halfway, so I made mine decorative. I drew a pattern in Sharpie to serve as the template for the design. I then used a sharp screw to pierce the plastic. For extra aeration, I created circular holes with an x-acto knife. Oxygen is essential for decomposition, so you need to make sure to properly aerate the bin. This means creating holes on the top, bottom and sides of the bin.

Frankly, I would recommend wearing gloves for such an endeavor. I managed to get blisters and break them open during my art project, but I did have a hell of a good time anyway. I opened a few cheap beers and blasted some lively tunes as I cranked away on the screws. I recommend some James Brown or the Spencer Davis Group. Nothing gives you energy like Bud Light, Mother Popcorn, and Gimme Me Some Lovin’.

For the inside lining, I bought WeedBlock because it’s durable despite being filled with holes. I sewed the lining together with a needle and thread. (The lining keeps the soil from falling through the large holes on the bottom of the bin.) I then set the box on two bricks to increase the airflow. In total, I think I spent $30 on the project.

A large bin from a gardening supply companies can run you $100. Plus, I had fun. Minus the blisters, of course.

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