Do It Yourself Composting
There is nothing difficult about composting. In many ways it is one of the most natural processes there is. In many larger gardens gardeners will often simply leave their garden waste in piles strategically positioned out of view to most visitors. Over time these piles simply rot away to nothing.
In smaller gardens we need to be a bit more economical with space so we typically keep all of our green waste and woody prunings (suitably shredded) in compost heaps. The process is the same and after a year or 2 all that lovely mulch is ready for spreading on the garden again.
Homemade Compost Bins
Homemade compost bins can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. In fact it is not necessary to build one at all. Compost can be made quite well in a pile or a series of piles. On the other hand there are advantages to a bin or system of bins. They allow for a more organized systematic approach to composting, they look better than a loose pile and may be mandatory in some municipalities. If they are mandatory in your area there may be conditions imposed on what you can build. Be sure to check before you start.
A compost pile to be effective should be three feet wide and high and at least three feet deep so that is the start of the measurements for the bin. One of the simplest bins takes a 10 foot length of welded wire fencing three feet high. Once it is wrapped in a circle it makes a bin. To turn the pile once the bin is full, in theory it can be lifted off the pile and the material turned into the bin. In reality the compost material holds the fencing in place and it is hard to move. It is better to have prepared the fencing in the first place so it can be opened and unwrapped from the pile.
It has become fashionable in some areas to make a compost bin from recycled pallets. Three of them on a side make the sides and back of the bin. They can be tied together with twine or nailed together for a more permanent setup. With a bit of ingenuity they can be extended to a three or more bin connected system.
Still others have taken concrete blocks and dry set them one on top of the other so as to make a bin. This is particularly fashionable in some suburban areas where the compost pile will be visible to neighbors and passers by. Staggering the blocks allows for better aeration. Again the system can be used to make one bin or a system of bins.
Obviously there are as many ways to make a compost bin as there are imaginations of gardeners the world over. Consider however, the desired system as much as the construction. A hot composting system is best served with at least three bins; one to build the pile and two to turn the pile back and forth. Cold composting will want an easy way to add composting materials to the top of the pile and finished compost from the bottom. Either system requires a way to easily access the compost.
Which ever system you use, fix up a homemade compost bin and get the compost coming for the best garden ever.
Darrell Feltmate is an avid gardener who has been composting and gardening for over 25 years with gardens up to 1/2 acre and compost piles for each. His composting site may be found at Compost Central. You can be a master composter in no time at all.
Much of his compost uses wood shavings from his wood turning hobby. The site for wood turning may be found at Around the Woods.