What to do with old compost bin?

Asked May 15, 2020, 5:25 PM EDT

Hi there! There is a years-old plastic compost bin in our rental house backyard, tucked in a corner under some arborvitae and encrouching blackberries. It has not been rotated, used, or even much noticed for 5 or more years - and it is stuffed full with those old leaves and kitchen compost materials from so many years ago. How can I safely empty this out? What to do with the contents? I am concerned about safety - I mean, at this point, what is even in there??? I would like to remove it or maybe even clean it out and start from scratch. THANK YOU!!!!!!

Multnomah County Oregon

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. You do not need to fear about the contents of the bin any more than you'd worry about all of the organic material on the forest floor! In fact, the longer it decomposes, the better! That just means that soil microbes have broken it back down so it can be used by plants for food (nutrients). It is probably better than any compost you can purchase because it has been reduced to a size they can absorb. You can just turn it over, and load it into a wheelbarrow, and then shovel it into the soil, where it will further break down. Here is a Metro publication with links to other resources: https://www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/yard-and-garden/composting

Good luck!

Thanks so much for the quick answer!!
I was a little worried in the garden "health safety" vein (bacteria, critter droppings, etc.) - forgot about the GOOD stuff!

If we didn't have bacteria, fungi, nematodes, worms, algae, etc., etc., all organic material would be piled up to the moon or beyond! We're all made up of recycled atoms!