how to make a backyard-urban-rv compost bucket

How to Make a Backyard-Urban-RV Compost Bucket

how to make a backyard-urban-rv compost bucket

Back on the Arizona homestead, composting was simply a matter of throwing the scraps in a small bucket next to the trash can and emptying it on the compost pile in the garden once a day. Then life happened. As a full-time RVer, I struggled to keep my homesteading values. Throwing out scraps literally pained me. So I did some homework and some experimenting and came up with a solution. I use much the same system here on the urban homestead. In this post, I show you how to make a backyard-urban-RV compost bucket.

For this project I used:

  • 2 5-gallon buckets
  • 1 lid for 5-gallon bucket
  • 2 bricks (or anything to elevate the inside bucket)
  • power drill
  • 1/4″ drill bit
  • boy to do the dirty work

Drill the holes

First drill a bunch of holes in one of the buckets. Use the power drill and the 1/4″ drill bit and the boy. If you do not have a boy to do the dirty work you will have to do-it-yourself. Holes should be at most a couple of inches apart and extend from about 1 inch from the bottom of the bucket to several inches from the top of the bucket.

This is so that fluids will drain into the bottom bucket and keep the moisture level on top balanced. It also provides for airflow, which means less stirring and faster composting. Just remember that there needs to be a balance of moisture present for composting to happen. Too dry and your scraps will mummify instead of breaking down into usable soil. Too wet and they will become a slimy, moldy, putrid mess.

Assemble the composter

I put 2 bricks inside my “unholy” bucket for my “holy” bucket to sit on. The bricks elevate the inside bucket so that it can drain into the base. The resulting sludge makes a great compost tea and I use it to fertilize my plants every 2 weeks.

You don’t have to use bricks, just make sure your inside bucket is raised a bit and that whatever you’re using will handle the weight of the compost sitting on it.

As an alternative, you can set the “holy” bucket on the ground but then you are losing out on the byproduct of compost tea.

Fill ‘er up!

Now just start adding scraps to the bucket and put the lid on it so they can ferment and break down. Keep your composter in an inconspicuous spot of your yard. When we were on the road I kept it in the truck bed. You don’t want curious pets, children, or guests to fiddle with it because of the YUCK factor. As you continue adding scraps you will start to notice critters moving in. This is desirable. The worms, flies, ants, and other bugs are making beautiful soil for you to grow more food in!


Ha, okay, I couldn’t resist. The new Avengers movie is coming out this weekend. Not that it has anything to do with…never mind.

Once your bucket is full, pull the inside bucket out of the base and press the lid down tight. I lay it on its side for a couple of weeks, turning it every few days and giving it a spray of water now and then to keep it from drying out. Then I dump the contents into my compost bin in my garden supply area and start all over again. I have a second “holy” bucket that I fill while the first is finishing up its cycle. This way I always have a bucket going.

In the RV I would just use the compost right away in my container garden. I think that would probably work in an apartment setting also.


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