DIY Compost Bins

Today I have an easy homesteading project that anyone can accomplish in a few days with very inexpensive materials.

In the hopes of reducing, reusing and recycling, nothing could be better for the planet than composting your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, hay, straw and even old bones as long as it’s done right.

One person’s trash is another person’s compost!

Composting is a great way to re-purpose many of the things we often send to the trash.

Once you start composting your eggs shells, banana peels and other kitchen scraps, my guess is that you’ll end up using a lot less garbage bags.

So why aren’t you decomposing something in your backyard for later use in your garden or flower pots?

I know why. You don’t have a cool looking compost bin!

I’m here to help you change that and build some DIY compost bins.


The materials

Just use whatever is free or cheap. This is the perfect time to dig up that scrap lumber that’s been hiding behind your shed for the past 5 years.

Uncover all those odd-shaped sizes of wood and grab a box of screws.

I made use of a bunch of free slab wood from the WoodGrain Sawmill nearby.

He has loads of these off-cuts sitting around in high stacks.

The off-cuts from sawmills are often discarded and wasted. Check to see if you can get free slab wood from your local mill. There are lots of uses.  Part of this is going towards panels for a compost bin. Could also be nice for siding an #adirondack cabin

The only problem is that most of them are about 16 feet or longer.

It takes a little time to dig out what I want and then chainsaw them in half to make them fit in my pickup.

When it’s free wood, I’m not one to complain about a little extra work.

Compost bin wall

My sawyer is a fun guy too. He’s a burly woodsman with grey hair and a stubbly beard.

The kind of lumber jack who’d rather be in 30 degree weather than dealing with the Summer heat.

I also bought a few dimensional pieces of rough cut lumber for the frame.

It can get pretty windy here in Willsboro, so I wanted to build the frame heavy enough to withstand the occasional gusty winds.

The sawmill didn’t have what I needed pre-cut, so I ended up making my own hefty timbers by combining smaller widths of dimension lumber together.

I took two 2×4’s to make 4×4 posts. Then I screwed together a 2×4 to a 2×6 for the roof posts.

As a bonus, the extra wood on the ends gave me something to fasten other pieces of the frame together, like the roof joists.

Compost bin posts

Not the most elegant solution, but definitely enough weight to keep everything on the ground.

Now, no lasting concerns that it can be blown over.


The build

I followed a picture I found on Joe Jenkins website.

I built mine using four (4), as in feet, as the guiding measurement. The two composting chambers are 4 feet high and 4 feet square.

The center bin for holding tools and dry matter, like hay and straw, is 6 feet high at the roof and also 4 feet square.

It’s good to have some airflow around the piles.

Using 4 feet square let’s you use a pallet as a base as most pallets are about 40-42 inches wide.

Notice that I have not yet covered my first pile in the photo below.

Letting some Summer rain fall on the pile will help it get going.

I will cover it eventually to keep it from drying out.

Moisture is a good thing for the microbes to do their thing.

DIY Compost Bins

The compost

I use a simple style of layering the compost piles called Lasagna Composting.

It’s a “no-brainer” way of layering green materials, like fresh grass clippings and brush, with brown materials, like old hay, straw and fallen leaves.

The initial layer in my case is a wooden pallet.

This lets air into the bottom of the pile and helps keep it off the ground.

Layering in this way there is no need to turn or aerate the pile (which is great if you’re lazy like me!).

You just let nature’s magical microbes do their thing.

It will all break down in about a year’s time. And then you can start filling your other bin.


Ready to decompose?

Good luck with your next “disintegration project” and definitely let me know if you have any questions!


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