The idea of sustainable gardening and using compost is almost as old as gardening itself. Ancient Akkadians amended their soil with manure almost 1,000 years before the time of Moses. Today, compost as we know it follows the Indore method that was introduced in 1942. This method calls for using three times as much plant material as manure, and layering the compost in sandwich fashion. Although compost piles can be constructed in open ground, they will break down more efficiently if contained. One simple form of container that you can build is a compost bin made of wood pallets.
Carry all of your compost materials to the location where you plan to build your compost bin. Your bin should be located on a flat surface, and should be constructed on soil so water from the bin can drain into the ground.
Assemble your four pallets into a square configuration. The corners of your pallets should abut one another.
Wrap each corner with 12-gauge wire to hold it in place. Snip the wire at the ends and wrap them around the next turn of wire to hold them in place.
Cut all of your organic material into 1-inch pieces. You can trim grass clippings, dead leaves and straw by running over them with a lawn mower. Kitchen scraps can be cut down with kitchen shears.
Fill your compost bin in layers with nitrogen-rich organic green material such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps and manure, and carbon-filled organic brown material that includes sawdust, shredded newspaper and straw. Make your brown layers three times as thick as your green layers.
Water the compost in your bin with a garden hose. Compost should stay as damp as a newly wrung-out sponge. The compost will heat up in the center of the bin to 130 to 160 degrees F.
Check the compost with a meat thermometer and stir the contents of the bin with a garden shovel any time the contents drop below 120 degrees.
Cover your compost bin with a tarp to hold in moisture and keep vermin away from the bin. When your compost is finished, unwire one side of the bin, and shovel the compost out of the bin.