Compost is gardening gold. Rich, fluffy compost adds nutrients to your soil, improving tilth and fertility in your garden. The only question is, which compost bin is right for you? Here are 10 DIY compost bin designs to get you started planning your spring compost bin.
1. Simple Wire Compost Bin
The easiest compost bin to build and disassemble is a simple wire compost bin. All you need is a roll of wire. Chicken wire, hardware cloth, or any mesh wire works well. Make a circular or square bin approximately 3 to 4 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall. Brace the edges with T-posts if necessary, and use some twine or spare wire to secure the circle or square shut.
Pile your compost in layers into your bin. When it comes time to turn it, simply remove the wire and set your bin up next to the pile. Then, fork the compost back into the bin. This is a great compost bin for leaves and yard trash, and the holes in the wire allow for excellent air circulation.
2. Pallet Box Compost Bins
Wood pallets are one of the best free materials for compost bin building, among many other DIY crafts. To build one compost bin, you need three or four pallets. With four pallets you can build a closed bin like the one pictured above. Three builds a bin that is open on one side for easy shoveling.
Stabilize your pallet compost bin at the corners with screws or T-posts. If you generate a lot of compost, you might want to build multiple bins in a row. This way you can leave one bin to age while you start another. Some compost enthusiasts leave one bin open at all times so that they can turn their compost pile by shoveling material from a full bin into an empty bin.
3. Wire and Wood Compost Bins
This is a great compost bin for those of us who have scrap wood and chicken wire lying around. A simple, square wooden frame is more permanent than a simple wire bin and holds up better over time. There are a few different designs out there. Some even have lids. No matter what design you choose, make sure you staple the wire on the inside of the frame to prevent the pressure of the compost from popping the staples out, and your compost along with it.
4. Trash Can Compost Bin
Old, busted trash cans make excellent compost bins. This trash can compost bin has had the bottom cut out. The maker turned it upside down and added material to the top. When the bin was full, she simply lifted the trash can off of the compost bin (rather like making sand castles with a bucket), then shoveled it back into the bin for further aging.
Closed trash cans work well too, and wheeled trash cans are certainly convenient for carting compost around. With this method, make sure you drill plenty of holes in the side of the can to allow air circulation inside your bin.
5. 55 Gallon Barrel Compost Tumbler
You can make your own compost tumbler with a 55 gallon barrel and a little DIY attitude.
6. Small Container Compost Bin
Smaller compost bins have trouble heating up enough to compost by themselves, so you need to do a little more work for them. That being said, apartment dwellers don't have many options when it comes to composting. Five gallon buckets or rubber or plastic containers work well for small scale composting. These containers store easily under the sink or in a closet, and adding a carbon filter to the top reduces odors. Make sure to add soil to small bins to speed up the composting process.
7. Cinder Block Compost Bin
For a permanent compost bin, cinder blocks offer a solid solution. You can build one, two, three or even four bays with cinder blocks for multiple compost bins, and the blocks hold up better to vigorous shoveling or backhoe turning. This is a nice option for small horse farms that generate a lot of organic material.
8. Straw Bale Compost Bin
Straw is an important component of most compost bins. It can also build the bin itself. Construct a simple bin using straw bales for a truly compostable compost bin. As the bales decompose, simply add them to the pile. Many farmers are willing to part with moldy straw or hay bales for very little money, or even for free, giving you a compost bin you can build in under ten minutes. Straw is also a good insulator, keeping your pile warm in the winter.
9. Compost Windrows
If you have a backhoe or have a friend who has a backhoe, freestanding compost windrows make perfect sense. The heat of these large, long piles breaks compost down quickly, as long as you have enough material. All you have to do is turn it periodically with a backhoe. This is another good option for horse farms and livestock operations.
10. Vermicompost Bin
Don't have a spot for a compost bin? Don't worry. You can still make compost. You will need a rubber or plastic container with a lid, food scraps, straw, and some red worms (easily ordered from a gardening store). Drill plenty of holes in the lid of your container to let your compost and worms breathe, and rotate kitchen scraps with straw. Your worms will transform your scraps into compost for you.
For more information about how to compost, check out some of the other great composting articles at Dave's Garden.