WINCHESTER, Ind. — Using a compost bin is a great way to recycle waste and create your own fertilizer.

Amy Alka, Extension educator in Randolph County, shared tips on how to create one in a webinar sponsored by Purdue Women in Agriculture.

“The first thing you need is three storage tubs,” Alka said.

“They can be any size. I’d suggest starting off small.”

Other supplies needed include a drill and drill bits, red wriggler worms, soil, shredded newspaper or other bedding, water, food scraps and a spacer to use between the bottom and middle tub.

Alka recommended using a half pound of worms per cubic foot of bin space for optimum composting.


  1. Set one tub aside.
  2. Drill holes in the bottom of the other two tubs with a 5/16” drill bit. Make at least a dozen holes.
  3. Drill holes around the tops of tubs and in the lid with a 1/8” drill bit. Make at least a dozen holes. Only one lid will be used — on the top tub.
  4. Take the tub you set aside and put a spacer in the bottom. The spacer provides room for extra moisture to run out. Examples of a spacer could include a flattened milk jug or old dog food bowl.
  5. Stack the two tubs with holes into the bottom tub without holes.
  6. In the top tub, shred newspaper and wet it down with water.
  7. Add moist soil.
  8. Add food scraps.
  9. Cover food scraps with soil to reduce smell and potential for gnats.
  10. Add worms.

“As you get your compost bin constructed, there are a few rules about what you can add,” Alka said.

There are a variety of things you can recycle, including:

  • Uncooked or cooked fruits and vegetables.
  • Breads and grains.
  • Egg shells, rinsed and crushed.
  • Coffee grounds and filters.
  • Tea bags minus the staple.
  • Hair or fur.
  • Dryer and vacuum lint.
  • Sawdust.
  • Yard trimmings.
  • Leaves.
  • Fireplace ashes.

There are several items you should avoid placing in your system, including metals, plastics, glass, pet waste, yard trimming treated with pesticides, treated wood, coal, meats, oil, dairy, or cooked foods that are oily or buttery.

It’s also a good idea to avoid onions and broccoli to avoid a strong odor.

Citrus fruits and orange rinds are too acidic and may attract fruit flies.

Getting into the groove of composting may take time, but it pays off. Using the compost as fertilizer is a great way to save money.

Alka can answer questions via email at

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.


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