The Buried Bucket Bin

Question from Bill:

I would like to start a new garden spot for next year and had an idea.
Could I dig a hole large enough for a 10 gal. Plastic bucket in
proposed garden spot to be buried 100%(no lid) filled with bedding
then place a 3 ft. Square 6″x6″ compost box on top of bedding bucket.
This would allow my wife to simply dump composing material into box
and walk away. Will use plywood as lid on box to keep “critters” out.
We live in SW Kansas where weather is harsh and we travel some so need
to have farm be self sustaining for a week at a time. We do have
neighbors that water current garden but want to build new spot a year
in advance about 100 sq.ft. in size so plan on moving compose box
about every 3 months.

Hi Bill,
This is a really interesting idea – and actually a great strategy for those living in areas with extreme weather (hot, cold, dry etc). You didn’t actually mention worms, but I am assuming that this would be a vermicomposting system.

Rather than simply putting bedding in the lower bucket, I would recommend mixing the bedding (well moistened) with some food waste materials and letting that age for a bit before adding the worms. This way you would be creating more of an appealing worm habitat than the bedding alone would provide.

I would also make sure that: A) the bucket had plenty of drainage holes in it, and B) that I used bulky bedding like shredded corrugated cardboard (cut into strips using a box cutter, then let sit in bucket of water before shredding by hand). There wouldn’t be much air flow down below the ground in a bucket like that, so best to keep the habitat materials as bulky as possible (vs something like peat moss, for example).

In the upper bin, I would add (water-rich) food wastes and more bedding both initially and on an ongoing basis – but as you suspect, you should be totally fine leaving the system for periods of time without any new additions once it’s up and running.

Your plan to move the system around sounds like a great way to create a number of very fertile planting zones – and I have little doubt that the worms (again, assuming you are using them) should really help to speed up the process and leave you with a superior compost for the plants.

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