Why I started composting?
I recently built a composting bin to start recycling my own garden waste into rich compost, now like a lot of you I have a garden waste bin that the local council take away for me. I wanted to recycle my garden waste so I could have my own organic compost, also I would know exactly where the waste was going, on my flower beds! It also got me thinking that if we all started recycling our garden waste locally then it would reduce the CO2 produced from transporting it to the recycling plant.
I like being eco friendly for two reasons the first is that I want to do my part for the planet and live with as little impact on the planet it as possible, secondly it is often a very cheap way to live that can help my your beer tokens. I went to the local garden centre to have a look at composting bins and they were all fairly expensive for what they were, and most were big ugly plastic things. I came home thinking that I could build something much better myself, and after reading this you should be able to as well. Now I am far from the most hand with DIY but as long as you can use a saw and hammer you should be fine.
A few basics about how the composting process works which influences the design of our bin.
- Composting is done by micro-organisms, insects and worms that digest the organic matter and break it down into compost.
- The micro-organisms in particular need water, but not too much so you need to ensure that your compost heap is kept damp but not sodden.
- The other things they need is air (oxygen), an important part of our compost bin design will be to ensure that we have air in the compost and that it is not too compacted down for a long period.
- Composition of the compost if also important, you might not be able to control what waste you produce but too many grass clippings or twigs and branches mean it won’t compost very well. A good rule of thumb is to have a good mixture of “Green” (nitrogen) and “Brown” (carbon) organic matter, you can find out more information here – Getting the Right Mix
How to build the composting bin
Now what you should need for this bin are a few planks of wood, I used old pallet wood because it was free but be careful of the nails when you take the pallets apart. Some square wooden stakes 1” x 1” and about 4 foot long, a saw and some hammer and nails. That is about it really you will have to read the rest of this guide and work out for yourself how much wood you will need based on the size of bin you want to make.
1. Here is a picture of the bin we are going to make the stakes need to be about 4 foot high and the planks can be as long as you want your bin to be.
Tip – Try to get hold of old wooden pallets as they can be taken apart for a cheap source of wood, it’s also very eco-friendly to reuse them
2. You want to start by nailing the stakes square to either end of the first plank.
Tip – Place your compost bin on soil so that worms and other insects can easily find their way in to it.
3. You can then start adding more planks until you have created a wall like this.
Tip – Drill some holes into the bottom planks and fill the bottom of the bin with branches and twigs so air can circulate in to the compost heap.
4. You can now make a second side and attach it at 90 degrees to the first side you created.
Tip – Your compost heap may become dry in summer, remember the composting heap needs water so you may need to water your compost heap yourself in summer months.
5. Yes you guessed it nest we add the third side of the wall but you might notice the back two stakes at the front. These need to be fixed to the two side walls with the space between them about 1cm more than the thickness of your planks.
Tip – So that your compost heap does not get too wet make sure you have a lid by either making one from your left over wood or you could use tarpaulin or even an old piece of carpet.
6. Now the front planks are not attached to the compost bin they simply slot in, the reason for this is so that you can easily poor waste in, you can add more planks as the compost bin becomes fuller.
Tip – Move your compost bin around your garden every year as the compost heap will give nutrients to the soil.
Now if you have the space I would suggest making a second bin, this means that when turning the compost heap you simply fork everything from the first bin in to the second, so that everything that was at the top of the first bin is at the bottom of the second bin, with the bottom of the heap now being at the top. This helps keep the compost heap aerated and you can check how well it is composting, you could even build a third bin to store your compost in.
I hope this article has been helpful and it really is much easier than it looks so give it a go, also remember to leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.