Compost is the gardener’s best friend. When you make it yourself, you end up with a free soil supplement that gives plants nutrients in a form they are best able to utilize so you have stronger, healthier plants that slowly and regularly take up nutrients. At the same time when you make your own compost, you are keeping those kitchen scraps and garden trimmings out of landfills.

Using compost means you don’t have to buy commercial fertilizers — a win-win for you, your plants and the environment. It just makes sense. But mention making compost and some blanch at the idea. They worry it will smell bad. They worry it won’t work (Not to worry, making compost is not rocket science.) and they might worry about having a place to locate a compost pile or bins. That’s why the barrel-like compost tumblers have their appeal.

Not long ago I spotted an ingenious “home-made” compost tumbler from a plastic 50-gallon barrel at the local welding shop. The owner explained he was making the device for a relative, and seeing the clever interpretation of those pricey compost tumblers, I suggested he consider selling kits of the welded hardware to gardeners who could make their own. 

While his proto-type isn’t complete, needing some sort of stand or support on which the barrel can be turned, I snapped a photo to share with you.

Anyone with welding skills or ingenuity might be able to take the idea and run with it.

Whether you make or buy a tumbler or fashion compost bins or just start accumulating ingredients in a compost pile out back, the time to start has never been better. The last question you might ask: Is making compost work? Yup it is. But then so is gardening in general, and the satisfaction of keeping a lot of organic wastes out of landfills and creating one’s own soil supplements that make for healthier plants and a healthier environment is well worth the effort. So, what are you waiting for?