Not too long after I started this site (back when it was still hosted with WordPress) I set out to build a compost bin for my new house. I had plans to take pictures of the process and blog about it, but I never did. I think that I thought I had done all those things, then only recently realised I had not done those things. So, with about 2 years of composting behind me, I can tell you how I did it and how well it has worked out (so far).
The first thing I did was try to find a spot for my compost bin to go. The best places are away from the house window (mine doesn’t stink, but ensuring that even in the event that it did the aroma wouldnt reach the window gave me enough capital to complete the project), shaded to prevent drying out, and with enough room for you to easily get to all sides of the box to stir the mix occasionally.
There are a few different designs, but I went with this one from Lowes that I originally saw on gather little by little (which has been sold since that post). It’s fairly simple, but because of space (and I think fiscal) constraints I built only 1/2 of the design. I also didn’t think that I’d need the whole design with two people. The design has worked well, but there are a few things I’d like to note:
1) the screens on one side were quickly chewed through by an inquisitive hound, so they were replaced with wood.
2) the screen on the top of the box did not work well for me. At first I thought it was genius because it would allow snowmelt to get through in the winter months, and still allow for air circulation. It worked well until the snow on the lid partially melted, then re-froze, creating a layer of ice on the lid that was quickly weighed down by more snow, then ended up tearing the screen (I have yet to find a solution to this)
3) the design on this is ok, but after having it for two years, I can say that I’d go another way with it. You.have to manually turn the pile with a shovel (or pitchfork) and it has to be done fairly frequently. Sometimes I forget to turn the heap, and its a real pain. If I had to do it over, I’d make one that has some sort of turning mechanism integrated. It will save you a lot of time and hassle.
The bin was easy enough to build, and aside from the wood, I had most of the needed materials on hand.
One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve found is getting the scraps from the kitchen to the heap before the fruit flies get to it. I have modified a gallon jug/old milk carton for this, but it has no lid. I like the one that Matt jabs has over on his site, and would make one if I could get an empty coffee container without having to buy one to throw out.
Readers: do you compost? Where do you store your compost pile and what do you plan on using the soils for?