Can you compost in a 5-gallon bucket? Yes you can. Let me explain it in detail in this article. You can learn a lot more about how to compost in a small space.

Can You Compost In A 5-gallon Bucket

Can you compost in a 5-gallon bucket?

You may come across different shapes and different sizes of compost bins. There are wooden boxes, multi chamber structures and even plastic ones which many people tend to use. That said, you don’t need to arrange anything fancy to do this task. 

You can make compost in a small space with less hassle. So, if you are someone who doesn’t have much time and energy to spend on this, you could create one small DIY compost bin just with a 5 gallon bucket. So, if you are willing to learn how to start composting with a 5 gallon bucket, you will find this article fruitful.

What is compost?

Before proceeding further if we briefly explain what compost is, it is more like decomposed organic material. Gardeners consider this as one of the most precious elements in gardening. In fact you could use this as a natural fertilizer and it will enhance the nutrients in the soil mix. You could use a 5 gallon bucket to do this task as it is not costly at all. In addition to that, this is fairly an easy way of composting too.

In particular, a backyard gardener would find this as one of the easiest ways of composting. In fact, this would give you decomposed material within a short period of two to three months.

Materials and supplies

You need to arrange the following elements to make the 5-gallon compost bucket.

  • A 5-gallon bucket which ideally contain a lid
  • A drill or any other tool which you could create holes
  • Several small sticks,
  • A mix of veggie scraps and dry leaves, paper scraps, or grass clippings
  • Optional: If your bucket has a metal handle, keep the pliers also ready so that you could remove the handle.

Once you arrange these materials., you need to test whether everything fits accordingly too. Ideally the lid in your bucket should be properly fixed. Additionally the sticks, dowel rods and other old strainers should also fit in the bottom of the bucket. You could adjust this method depending on your requirement. If you are someone who is on your own and don’t have a lot of scraps for composting, going ahead with a smaller bin would be the best. That being said, if you are in a big family where you will have a significant amount of scrape you could adjust this method accordingly. 

Can You Compost In A 5-gallon Bucket

Preparation and use

First and foremost, you need to prepare your DIY compost 5 gallon bucket to do this task. In that context, the first thing you need to do is to drill air holes in the top, bottom and in both sides of the bin. However, the holes need to be about one inch in diameter. All together the total number of holes should be about 15 to 20 in every layer of the bin. Ensure that you have placed holes every several inches apart the bin. If you could spot any plastic stuck in those drilled holes you need to remove them as well.

This is a critical factor once you drill these holes, it would contribute to better drainage in the bin. It is important there is good drainage in the bin as only then the composting process would flourish. If your bin comes with a thick handle, you need to use pliers and remove them. That said, it is not necessary to do so and you could do it only if you wish to do so. That way you can easily roll the bucket.

Next you can fit the sticks , dowel rods and old strainer in the bottom of your bucket. Once you place these elements, it would help you to keep your draining holes from getting clogged with compost. If the holes are stopped, it would lead to excess water build ups. Ultimately it would pave the way for mold. Thereafter, you can place a layer of brown material. You could use substances such as dried leaves, straw, hay newspaper or even some cardboard to do this task. Next, you could add a green material layer such as fresh lawn clippings, vegetable scraps, and fruit peels. 

You can keep placing these layers until the point that your bin becomes halfway full. Lastly you may sprinkle some water lightly there. Keep adding these layers until it completely gets full with these. Bear in mind that you could add anything organic to compost. Having said that, you need to keep in mind that you should rinse substances such as kitchen scraps, peels or rinds and then use them for this purpose. It is vital that you do this step as chances are that they would have been applied pesticides as they grow. 

You may also add fish and meat items. However, once they decompose , they tend to release a foul smell. So it would attract animals as well. Besides these, you may add wood and bone also for this. However, it would take a little longer for them to break down. As such I suggest you avoid putting them in your compost. 

Bear in mind that you need to ensure that the lid is well sealed every time you add the scraps to your bucket. Further you need to roll the bucket across the garden. However you can roll it back and forth for a small distance multiple times. It would mix the compost which would ultimately enhance the air circulation in the bin. This would help you to prevent excess moisture build up in the bin. 

Once you do all these steps, you need to decide where you are going to keep them as well. . You could either place them in sunlight or in the shade. With that being said, once you place it in full sunlight, the degradation of the compost material would take place at a much faster pace.

Can You Compost In A 5-gallon Bucket

Common issues and solutions

One of the main causes for most of these issues with compost bins take place due to imbalance of brown and green materials. Additionally poor air circulation, excess moisture build up could also be the root cause. If the compost is drying out, decomposition would not take place effectively as they usually need moist. 

So, you can be tactful in adding some water lightly to make it moistened. Additionally, you may also add some more green material as well. if your compost starts to smell like rotten food, it literally means it consists of more green materials. So, what you could do here is add more brown materials.

If there is a moisture build up along with poor air circulation it would make the compost smelly. If the compost is too soggy and damp, it may contain excess water level. If you come across any situation like this, you can add more brown material and mix it with your compost. Besides you need to check all the air and draining holes are clear too. if the compost is tightly compacted, chances are that there isn’t a good air circulation in the bin. So, you need to mix the compost once again to make air circulation better.

All you need to do is just roll the bin like you used to do. If you think it is too compact, you can take either a shovel, pitch form or mix it on your own. Instead of these tools, you may use a sturdy stick and mix it too.

That’s about it and I hope you could now make a DIY compost bucket on your own. This is a very process to do and it would even make a great gift item as well.

How long does it take to compost in a 5-gallon bucket?

It would usually take about 6 weeks to get the compost from a 5-gallon bucket. Literally the compost would complete developing during 6 weeks of time to half of the volume of the initially filled materials in the bin. After six weeks of time, you can collect the liquid and pour it around your plants and that would act as a great fertilizer.

What kind of container should I use for composting?

There are several container type which you could use to do composting. Ideally larger plastic storage containers would do the job here. However, they need to have tight fitting lids in the same size on both sides.

Can You Compost In A 5-gallon Bucket

Can you make compost in a closed container?

You can make a tightly closed container to create ideal environmental conditions for anaerobic composting without the microorganisms. This is mainly used in the Bokoshi method. In fact you may either have a sealed garbage bag or a plastic bucket with an airtight lid would be ideal here. In addition to that you may also use a specially designed closed composting bin also here.

Can you compost in a coffee can?

Certainly you can. You may simply place kitchen scraps in the coffee can and make a mini composter. For example, you may use kitchen scraps such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds for the job. Keep in mind to seal the compost bin every time you add the scarps.

How often should you empty your compost bin?

Ideally you need to empty the compost bin every few days or every week.


To conclude the article on “Can you compost in a 5-gallon bucket?” First I like to say gardeners consider compost as black gold. So, using a 5-gallon bucket for composting is not costly at all and anybody could afford it. 

It is an easy process to practice too. it is not necessary to go for a massive pot to get your composting done and a 5-gallon bucket would be adequate for you. In fact, it would be the perfect vessel to do this task.

This would perfectly fit in for a beginner who wishes to do composting. Once he gets experience in doing this, you may try out with the other lager compositing containers. So, I hope you were able to gather some useful information on how to do composting in a 5-gallon bucket and that you are all set to start doing it !

Credit to : At Home

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Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

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