Monday, April 9, 2012


Well another project was completed last weekend. I didn't expect it at all, as it was already a very busy weekend with the holiday, but what a fabulous surprise!  A new homemade composting system!  This composting system replaced a composting bin that we built last year...and I think we've perfected it a little more.  I was able to get about a half a wagon full of fresh compost to add to my smaller garden, in the process of tearing down the old composting bin. 

We constructed the new composting bins out of 7 recycled pallets.  Two fence posts one on the left-hand side and one on the right-hand side (for stability) and we just lined up the rest of the pallets and screwed them all together.  It really was that easy.  There should be plenty of air flow and the bottom pallets had a smooth top for ease of removal of compost.  There are many examples of pallet composters online - but we pretty much winged it and it came out just fine.

I didn't realize how many "rules and regulations" apply to composting - it's a fascinating process.  Here's what I learned already:

Getting Started

Choose a container that’s constructed of wood (or other sturdy material).  The container should be at least about three by three feet. You should place it in a shady spot in your yard with good drainage. Start adding waste material in a ratio of three “browns” to one “green.”  Browns are considered carbon-rich materials and include:  wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves.  Greens provide nitrogen and include:  grass clippings and kitchen scraps, like eggshells and carrot tops. When you’re adding new material, it is suggested, that you dig a hole in the pile and stir the new stuff in so it gets coated with the old mixture.                        

Maintaining the Pile

Composting can be a smelly process. The process involves the breaking down of food and yard waste.  But it shouldn’t be so offensive that the neighbors complain.  Thankfully we are far enough away from any neighbors.  But if you notice a stinky smell, make sure you have enough browns in the pile.  If it’s too dry, let rain (or add water) to even out the moisture. If it’s too wet, add a few more browns.  The pile should not be soaking wet but more like a wrung out sponge.                   

Compost Is Ready

When your compost is ready for use, which could take anywhere from a few months to a year, compost looks and smells like very dark fluffy soil. If you’re unsure, I've read that there's a baggie test:  Place a small amount in a plastic bag and take a whiff before sealing. Then place the bag in a drawer for a few days. When you open the bag, the sample should smell the same as it did before. If it smells worse, your compost needs more time in the pile.

Here's some photos of the new homemade composting bins (in various stages):

1 comment: