Whether you're a dedicated gardener, a green-living expert or an environmentally conscious city dweller, chances are you'll be able to benefit from composting. Not only does composting reduce the amount of waste your household tosses into the garbage can, but it also produces nutrient-dense humus for fertilizing your garden soil and potted plants. If you're on a tight budget, pallet compost bins provide a creative but affordable way for you to begin composting.
Wooden shipping pallets are a common sight behind just about every large warehouse or shipping facility in the United States. Using these pallets to make compost bins provides an easy way to reuse and recycle old or damaged pallets. The structure of wooden pallets also promotes natural compost aeration, since air can flow easily between the wooden slats. This natural airflow leads to quicker decomposition of your compost materials.
Although reusing wooden pallets is a wonderful way to keep them from cluttering up landfills, they're not all ideal materials for building a compost bin. In some instances, containers of harmful chemicals spill on the pallets that are supporting them. Using these pallets for a compost bin could result in contamination of your compost. When you're searching for wooden pallets, make sure they weren't spilled on in the past by potentially harmful chemicals. When in doubt, pass up a pallet and keep looking.
Look for pallets that are at least 3 feet by 3 feet. These dimensions allow you to use one pallet per side to construct a bin that is 3 cubic feet, the minimum size required for proper hot composting. Check the slats to make sure that they're not too far apart. Try to find pallets with boards that are 2 inches apart or closer.
The amount of time required to produce finished compost with a pallet compost bin varies, depending upon the ingredients that you placed in your compost. Overall, according to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, compost-holding units such as a pallet bin typically take six months to two years to produce finished composted. You can speed up the composting process in your pallet compost bin by mixing your compost with a manure fork every one to two weeks; the more frequently you mix it, the more quickly you'll have finished compost.
If you opt to use four pallets for the sides of your compost unit, you can create a box-shaped pallet bin that should contain your compost well but may be more difficult to access. If you plan to mix your compost regularly, you should construct a three-sided pallet compost bin so you can lift and mix the organic waste in your bin more easily. Although you can use another pallet to make a bottom for your compost container, leaving the bottom open exposes your compost to the ground, which allows the decomposing bacteria in the soil to have more direct access to your organic materials.