Making a compost bin is actually a very simple project. If you’re at all familiar with our site, you know that we promote projects that DIYer types can enjoy and handle in one to two weekends. This project is even more beneficial in that you can learn how to make a compost bin in no time and have it working for you in just a few hours.
There are a variety of ways for building a compost bin. They range from almost nothing being built to a more formal wood and mesh bin with hinged doors, lids and such. The only difference is that the types that you build that are more involved are just easier to use and contain your composting material more easily. There is really nothing more in the way of functional performance, besides the fact that animals or pets cannot mess with the closed-lid variety.
You can utilize a compost pile, another popular way of composting. In recent years, home composting has come on quite strong. One cause is likely due to the fact that many people are more and more likely to have their own vegetable or flower gardens. There has been a big upswing in residential chicken ‘farmers’, organic gardening and building other items like raised garden beds. Anything that brings more people into their backyards and patio areas is always going to get us smiling.
Building A Compost Bin
As mentioned, the actual structure can come in many forms. One great option is to go with the ‘lazy style’ – which is never a bad choice – and that is to simply create a pile. The same ‘rules’ apply; you’ll need to keep a proper mix of brown and green components (we will discuss these shortly), moisture, oxygen and sun. Only, with the pile, it requires no building skills. You will want to locate your pile somewhere that is not right against your home yet near enough so it is convenient to use. Many people choose to use an indoor kitchen compost bucket or pail of some sort and then dump it in their bin or pile when it gets full.
Here is an example of a ‘hybrid’ type compost construction – part contained, part open.
Another choice is to build one with a wood frame, mesh and/or lids to keep it all contained. Again, it will not necessarily give your compost any faster of a breakdown period, but it may make it easier for you to tend, which will shorten the time it takes to get usable compost. This is one of the best mulch types available. It is great for providing nutrition, minimizes moisture loss from your plants’ roots and is a natural weed suppressor.
Can you tell we are big fans of the idea of using those recycled palettes? Free and they result in less waste! There are, of course, composters that rotate. These are often sold for several hundred dollars. There are some advantages to these. First of all, they are easier to rotate and keep your compost turned regularly. This does help with breaking it down a bit quicker. Also, since they are made with durable plastics, they will last longer than the wooden built bins and some have compost juice reservoirs to help you capture that nutritious juice for your plants. This juice is great for indoor plants, a patio garden or herb garden. The downside is that they are quite expensive and are typically smaller than other styles.
So, what are these greens and browns (60%) we’re talking about? Brown material refers to items that are more dried out. They could include things like dead leaves, straw, pine needles or newspaper (shredded is best). This is why Fall is often considered a great time to start a compost when the leaves are falling and can be easily raked up and collected.
Green material refers to items like vegetable scraps, grass clippings, dying or dead flowers, plants and other not quite dried out plant materials. Manure can also be a great addition to your compost. You need to ensure that it comes from an herbivore, like a chicken, cow or other plant eating animal. There is a lot of nitrogen in it.
Some other key components of compost are moisture, oxygen and turning. Moisture levels should be damp, but not soggy. Oxygen is important as it will help the microorganisms in the pile do their work and also keep the breakdown moving along without odor. Turning helps with both oxygenation and keeping the materials mixed thoroughly to allow for proper breakdown.
If your compost is in the sun, you may need to actually water it occasionally. Different climates also affect the rate of breakdown. It should only take about 3-6 months to go from materials in to compost out. Hotter climates can have the effect of speeding up the whole process.
The editor of Organic Gardening magazine discusses the ins and outs of what goes in your compost bin and also how to ‘maintain it’ to give you that black gold you’re looking for in just a few months time in this next video.
If you’re still unsure of exactly how to make a compost bin, then you’re sure to find more helpful videos linked to the ones above. After using both municipal provided compost bins and the (more expensive rotation) styles mentioned above, using the old wooden palettes (if you have the space) makes for a great solution. Happy composting!