Making your own compost is a must-do for the enterprising gardener. When it comes to getting bulky, organic material that’ll benefit your growing world, whether on expansive or modest plots, creating your own mulch is the way to go.
Easy to do, costs nothing, environmentally friendly and hugely beneficial to your garden, there are plenty of reasons to give it a go.
Arguably it is best to start the process in Spring. Things rot fastest during this season; however, this is not vital. Things rot all year round, so if you’re keen to get going don’t let this put you off. The sooner you can turn your kitchen and garden waste into a rich source of nutrients that’ll see your crops and plants bursting forth the better!
And besides, what better way to spend an afternoon than building a compost bin, which is what you’ll need to get your composting process underway. It’ll keep pests under control, give you somewhere to throw all that garden waste, as well as being aesthetically pleasing in comparison to an exposed heap.
As mentioned already it doesn’t take long to construct a compost bin, but you will need some materials and tools.
- Four 1.2 metre fence posts to secure the structure
- Four pallets to create the sides
- Some strong wire for firming everything up
- A piece of carpet or tarpaulin to act as a lid
- Wire Cutters
Ok you’re ready to go, on to step one.
1. First you’re going to need to clear the area you intend to use for your heap. Use a rake and spade to clear and flatten a space about a metre square. Compost needs to have critical mass, so it heats up effectively – a metre cubed is ideal for this.
2. Once this is done take one of your pallets and stand it on its end at the back of the area you just cleared. This will be the back of your bin. Secure it by putting two stakes between the two layers of the pallet, one at either end. Take your mallet and drive them into the ground. Ideally you want them to be about 30cm/12″ deep, that’ll make it nice and solid.
3. Take two more pallets and create the sides. Be sure to butt them right in tight against the back pallet, at right angles. Secure these with the two remaining stakes in the same way as you did the back. One for each pallet at the front of your soon-to-be-finished bin.
4. Wire it. Take your wire and lash together as tightly as possible the pallets in the two back corners. This won’t only add rigidity to your structure, but minimise any compost spilling out through the cracks.
5. Use the fourth pallet to make the front. It needs to be secured with the wire in such a manner that it creates a gate. You need to be able to get at your lovely compost when the time comes. If it’s a bit heavy saw it half, this will make it much easier to open and won’t affect the functionality of the bin at all.
6. Finally stand back, admire your work, throw in the leftovers from lunch and cover it up with your lid.
That’s it you’re ready. When you first come to fill your bin it is best practice to create a level of drainage. This can be done really easily by using coarse material such as straw and twigs. With that in place, away you go. There are plenty of techniques to try for the most effective composting methods, involving creating layers of different types of waste such as coffee grounds and lawn clippings. All of which are fun to experiment with, something you can now do thanks to your very own compost bin!
David James is a gardening writer and researcher.
- Building a Compost Bin (citytosimple.wordpress.com)
- DIY Compost bins. I built them out of pallets. (earthjive.wordpress.com)
- My Garden: Compost Bin Update (homefront.prudentliving.com)