Compost Bin for Seed Germination

Grow plants in Compost Bins | Cheap and Easy | Composting for beginners

Once you fall in love with composting, there is no going back. Do you agree? Composting is addictive. But if you have limited space then it can become challenging. There may be some waiting periods when you have to throw out that green and brown gold collected from your kitchen scraps or your garden. Today I’m going to share with you how I started and am growing my fall/ winter plants from seeds in compost bins with very little soil.

Some of you might have seen my video in which I showed you how to make a cheap and easy DIY compost bin. I have several such bins that I use for composting but as I add the leaves and twigs to it gets full pretty fast. I don’t always get time to make very small pieces. If I could do that then I can accommodate more compost in the same bin. The smaller the size of the composting material faster is the composting process because that way there is more surface area available for the microorganisms and earthworms to work on.

I still had many plants in my raised beds that were still producing. So, I didn’t want to just take them out early to make space for the new ones. So decided to use my compost bins as seed germination trays/ as tiny beds for direct sowing. I understand that many of you won’t agree with me. If the compost is partially finished then the pathogens/ pests can affect the new seedlings by infecting them. But, I still decided to try it. And it worked amazing. It saved so much of my time because I didn’t have to start the seedlings in small trays and then move them to a new spot. Transplanting young seedlings is not my favorite job because many times the seedlings get damaged and I feel bad to lose them. And actually, this is not the first time I have used compost bins as planters, I have used them before for young plants and they worked well that time too. So my idea is to grow the plants while there is a composting process occurring at the bottom. That way the plants can get a continuous supply of nutrients as the compost keeps breaking down.

Fenugreek seedlings germinating in the compost bin

Today we are going to see three different compost bins that I used for seed germination. Let’s start with these two first. You can see these compost bins are more than three-quarters full. The compost is not at all done. There are leaves and twigs that still are not decomposed completely. It could take months for this compost to get ready. But it is very loose.

I’m topping it with about 4–6 inches of soil first. Typically, I use only organic soil but this year, I couldn’t find any good deals. The soil that I wanted was either out of stock or unbelievably expensive. This is raised bed soil for flowers and vegetables. Normally I would have used at least 2 bags per container but this time I’m just using one for both these containers. I’m saving three bags of soil.

In addition to this soil, I also added some compost and organic fertilizer to both bins. I mixed all these ingredients in the top part. And our bins are ready for planting.

I planted a variety of seeds in these planters. There were carrots, cilantro, 5 types of kales, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroots, and brussels sprouts. Of course, these containers were not enough for all these plants but I didn’t have to move them immediately to their final spot. Also, I had some seedlings that needed to move to a bigger pot. I made space for them in the same bins. In the first week after sowing seeds, I kept the lids loosely covered because the weather was changing a lot every day. I tried to keep the soil moist. The germination rate was pretty good. This is how the seedlings looked like after a couple of weeks.

Eventually, I moved cabbage seedlings in another container while my beds were getting ready. Also, brussels sprouts are now moved into their final bed. I moved kale seedlings in one of the new beds. But kept my dinosaur kale in the same bin. I had sowed some spinach seeds too in the same container and regularly harvest the green crispy leaves for salad along with the Russian kale. The second bin had only beets and brussels sprouts. After I moved the brussels sprouts to another bed, only beets are here. But now you can see that the composting is happening faster. This bin was once full and now has shrunk down to almost 2/3rd. I’ll have to add more soil here or beets won’t develop well. Overall, I managed to grow a lot of plants with just one bag of soil. I regularly feed my plants now with fish emulsion fertilizer. I do that immediately after harvesting leaves.

In the third container, which had a very freshly prepared compost mix, I sowed fenugreek seeds, a lot of them. I kept that bin covered for a few days. Air circulation was happening fine because the container lid had holes on the top. Once the tiny seedlings started emerging, I kept the lid loosely open. One day, I forgot to close it and the pigeons took advantage of that. So finally I had to cover it with a bird net. Pigeons love fenugreek and chickpeas. If you have them it is important to protect seedlings in advance or you won’t get anything.

So overall, using compost bins as seed starting pots turned out to be a great idea for me. It is like multitasking when you can cover up the compost and grow veggies at the same time. Also, you don’t have to water them separately or mix the pile. Growing roots do that job for you. Unlike starting seeds in tiny containers, this works better because roots can grow freely. That’s it for now. In my future video, I’ll show you how the compost looks like after you harvest these veggies in a few months.



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I’m a gardener for whom gardening is not just a hobby now but has become an integral part of my life. I would like to share with you all the beauty of gardening