Compost Bin Making

Overview

Composting landscape waste and kitchen vegetable scraps produces an excellent soil amendment--compost. Compost is organic matter that has been broken down, or decomposed, by bacteria. Composting is simple and can be done in a pile or in a bin. Bins contain the ingredients and promote decomposition. You can buy a compost bin or, better yet, make your own. Use it to recycle yard and kitchen waste instead of sending it to the landfill.

Location

Select a location that is close to your garden if possible, but unobtrusive as well. Erect a screen or place evergreen plants so the bin is shielded from view year around. Leave enough room to get your wheelbarrow in to drop off waste or pick up more compost. Keeping yard waste and vegetative matter in a pile or bin out near your curb won't make your neighbors happy. Inconspicuous is best.

Size

Naturally, the ideal bin size is one that will contain all the compost ingredients you will generate throughout the year. Larger may not be better, though. If the size of the bin is unmanageable, compost production will happen very slowly. A small yard with a mature tree or two can easily fill a 3-by-3-foot bin over the course of spring, summer and fall. A little larger is fine and easier to turn and mix. Much larger and you'll have some difficulty keeping the pile neat, healthy and operating.

Air Flow

The bacteria that facilitate decomposition need oxygen or they will die. Construct your compost bin in such a way that air can flow through the pile. A good plan is to make sides of horizontal wood slats, with an inch between the slats. Although small amounts of the compost ingredient mix might spill out, most will stay inside. Those few ingredients can be picked up and thrown back into the bin.

Access

The compost pile has to be turned and mixed often for best results. Trying to do this in a small area from above is frustrating. Build your compost bin with a front that can be removed easily to access the compost and to mix ingredients. The horizontal slats can be put together in a panel that fits over the front, making removal and replacement a snap.

Sifting

Once the compost pile is generating good black compost, you'll want to remove some and use it in your garden and planting beds. A framed sifting screen made of half-inch hardware cloth and large enough to fit over your wheelbarrow is perfect. You shovel compost onto it, sift it and what remains goes back into your compost pile for further decomposition. A sifter can double as a bin cover to keep out birds and animals.

Keywords: compost bin, making a compost bin, compost pile

About this Author

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.