Sunday, October 30, 2016

I'm back with a home made compost bin!

Blame Facebook for killing my poor garden blog.  I seem to put all my garden and art projects there now.  But there is still a wealth of information on this blog that I intend to save.  And because Facebook isn't set up well for going back in history and finding posts on projects, I do intend to keep this blog alive.  So here I am on a rainy morning to post a few projects I've been doing in the last couple years.

The first is this home made compost bin.

When I first set out to compost for my garden, I had bought myself a couple of these.  And despite the rave reviews on the Lowes website, this didn't work for me at all.  The main problem is, you can't turn it, and if you can't turn it, you perpetually have about half the bin filled with stuff that won't decompose well.  Also, those little doors on the bottom where you're supposed to fit a shovel are kind of a joke.  You'll break your back trying to get anything out of them.  So this ended up in the trash.

Instead, I set out to keep with the concept of the bin above, but improve on the design.  In my internet search for ideas, I stumbled upon this photograph of an open compost bin someone had made. I liked the design, it looked simple enough, but I would have to modify it a bit.  I live in an urban area with a small yard, neighbors and raccoons.  So having an open bin like this wasn't an option.  But I decided to start with this frame then cover it.

Which sent me off to Lowes.

 Here is me, bright and shiny and ready to dig into the project.  

And 8 hours, lots of dust and sweat later, I had this finished bin.

It is basically the open bin above, but generously covered with plywood and chicken wire.  The lids are hinged at the top.

The best feature of this is the ability to take the front off when I want to turn the pile or remove the finished compost.  Having the bin open on the bottom allows for worms and microbes to get inside, which they do!


 I made the bin in August of 2015, and began throwing in my materials.  I don't go out and turn my bin frequently, so the process of getting finished compost is a little slower.  But by the following Spring, I had several wheelbarrows full of finished compost.


Enough to amend two of my garden beds.

And now we have the October, 2016 Update

I'm still very happy with my compost bin.  It's still holding up well and working the way I'd planned.  However, this fall, I ended up with a RAT!!  He's come for the kitchen scraps I throw in there, and it doesn't seem to matter that I cover the scraps with paper or yard waste.  He is burrowing in to get them.  So now I am rethinking what I put in there.

Our first order of business is to get rid of the rat, so I purchased a Rat Zapper and placed it in a box (it's raining) and placed that in the finished compost side of my bin.

The second order of business is to figure out how to deter rats from coming back.  As he's come for the kitchen scraps, I decided that the big bin will only get yard waste.  Kitchen scraps are going to get decomposed in a closed bin before being tossed in here.

After chatting with lots of gardeners who compost, I decided on this.  It's a 20-gallon Rubbermaid bin with a lid.  I drilled lots of small holes in in the top, sides and bottom of this can then filled it about 2/3 full with shredded newspaper.  I will start putting kitchen scraps in this bin, which is intentionally left small enough that I can shake it around a bit.  I've got a bungee on the top just for extra security.  In a sense, this replicates a tumbling compost bin, but where those can cost you upwards of $100 or more, this one cost $25 (including bungee).  I may get two or more of these going for my kitchen scraps. 

So we will see how well this does!