Wine Barrel Compost Barrels

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Project by winecountrywhimsy posted 04-20-2009 07:08 PM 7193 views 7 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is not really a wood working project, but I am posting it on Gardentenders and thought it might be interesting to someone at Lumberjocks.

I have seen several compost barrels made from plastic and metal drums or barrels. With the access I have to wine barrels, I thought why not try to make a compost wine barrel. I then settled on three barrels so that I can have enough capacity for our garden and to handle all our yard waste.

I cut the tops of the barrels off below the top hoop. I use a reciprocating saw, but you could also use a circular saw with the blade tilted to match the angle of the barrel. I used latches to attach the top back to the barrel. I enlarged the bung hole of the wine barrel to 1 1/2 in. and cut a second hold on the other side to match. I drilled a 1/2 in. hole on the side of the barrel near the bottom and inserted a PVC valve. This allows the barrel to be drained of the “compost tea” as it builds up. This goes on your plants for a great fertilizer.

I dug holes and set fence posts in concrete. I made them tall enough so that I can get my wheel barrow under them when they are tipped and pull the compost right into the wheel barrow. I used 1 1/2 in. metal electrical conduit as the main support, running it through the holes of the barrels. I attached the conduit to the top of the fence posts with brackets. The hard part was lifting the three barrels up onto the fence post supports. That takes some friends/neighbors for help.

So, you fill it up with grass, leaves, kitchen waste, etc. Add a little water, a little fertilizer, etc. Latch the top on and spin it to mix it up. I turn them about once a week to keep them well mixed up. Add water once in a while when it looks dry. Keep the lid off for a while if it looks too wet. Usually by the time the third barrel is full, the first is ready to empty. It makes great compost for the garden.

-- Todd @ winecountrywhimsy Sonoma County, CA

8 comments so far

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3740 days

#1 posted 04-20-2009 07:17 PM

Love this project. You did a great job! Going to do this myself.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3524 days

#2 posted 04-20-2009 07:43 PM

Really neat idea and design. I am debating on should I show this to my wife or not ???? another project !!!!

Thanks for posting

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4105 days

#3 posted 04-21-2009 04:38 AM

nice!!! If i could get some barrels this would be a great project….

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View robbinscabin's profile


313 posts in 3516 days

#4 posted 04-21-2009 01:28 PM

Love this project! I’ve been wanting to get a better compost system and this is just rustic enough for my cabin and garden! Thanks for sharing!

-- Robbinscabin,

View Jeff Dubofsky's profile

Jeff Dubofsky

52 posts in 3281 days

#5 posted 07-06-2009 09:19 PM

Thanks for sharing this very cool project. I’ll be setting up a large garden in my yard for next season and will think about doing this as well…...

-- jdubo, Hartland Wisconsin..."If you see a flaw in my work take a (big) step back!"

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#6 posted 07-07-2009 03:03 AM

Cool idea Todd

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View winecountrywhimsy's profile


99 posts in 3376 days

#7 posted 03-22-2010 11:00 PM

After some time now I have learned a few things. The compost develops more slowly in the wood barrels than it does in plastic or metal barrels. The wood insulates the compost and it does not break down as fast. It still works but takes more time. I leave the lids off more in the summer to help speed it up.

I also learned that if the barrels are empty in the summer they will dry up and shrink. The hoops want to fall off and the lids want to fall apart. You need to keep them wet, fill them with water, or keep them full of compost. I added a bunch of screws to keep the hoops on the barrels and keep them together, but the barrels eventually start to leak. Not a big deal, but not ideal.

-- Todd @ winecountrywhimsy Sonoma County, CA

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3740 days

#8 posted 04-07-2010 07:59 PM

thanks for the update…wish more people would update their projects to state lessons learned after time. Thanks so much!

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

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