Composting is one of the most interesting parts of gardening – if you’re doing it right. Many gardeners prefer to heap their compost into a bare-earth pile on a random, sun-lit corner of their garden. While it’s quite helpful for the compost to be close to the earth, this method has a lot of disadvantages.
For starters, you can’t completely keep rodents out of your compost and when it’s not confined to a space or a container, your home will become a sort of rodent shopping mall. Also, the odor can be so offensive your neighbors could report you to the authorities.
Truly, you can’t underrate the importance of having a compost bin at home. These containers play a major role in maintaining the texture of the compost from the time you created it to maturity.
One major issue is getting around the hassles of building one. On that note, before you set about doing so, it’s important to understand the concepts involved and the role they play in the production of healthy, viable compost.
What is a Compost Bin?
Your compost needs to be aerated and preserved until it performs the expected task. During the process of decomposition, it’s important to provide sufficient but regulated air for effective breakdown to occur. This is the idea behind compost bins and tumblers. Many gardeners exploring composting often mistake one for the other. It’s worth mentioning that a compost bin is quite different from a compost tumbler.
First, a compost bin has openings beneath it. It’s set directly on the ground. From these openings, air could easily penetrate the compost mixed inside the bin. Another distinct feature is that a compost bin is far easier to build. It’s not surprising why many gardeners choose it over tumblers.
On the other hand, compost tumblers come in the form of sealed drums that are raised off the ground. Depending on the source of air, they can be spun towards any suitable position for proper aeration. While compost tumblers are pretty expensive and a lot more time-consuming if you choose to DIY, they are a lot faster and more convenient for composting. Also, you’d have less of a rodent situation since the tumblers are raised off the ground.
How can I build a Compost Bin?
Before we get into this section, it’s important to note that compost bins come in different forms. Hence, their construction takes different formats. Let’s get to work to build a compost bin.
Worm Compost Bin
This particular structure is perfect when a lot of your compost mix would contain vegetables and fruit peels. You’d most likely want the introduction of worms to eat the scraps of vegetables, thereby, converting them to organic matter. For this reason, you’d have to build a compost bin that would allow for easy worm penetration.
Below are the materials you need to build one:
- One 16-foot length of 2×4 lumber
- One 4×8 foot sheet of ½ inch plywood (exterior)
- Two galvanized door hinges
- A ½ pound of 16d galvanized nails
- One 12-foot length of 2×4 lumber
- Moistened Shredded cardboard, peat moss, and brown leaves (these would serve as beddings for the worms)
- 2 pounds of 6d galvanized nails
- A pound of worms – this should be commensurate to a ½ pound of food wastes used for the compost on a daily basis.
- Work gloves
- Tape measure
- Eye and ear protective gloves
- Chalk snap line
- A ½ inch of drill
Method of Constructing a Worm Compost Bin:
With the above materials and tools ready, you can now set about the task of constructing a worm compost bin. Follow the steps below to build one:
- Measure and cut the exterior plywood to obtain the following shapes: two 16 by 42-inch sides; one 24 by 42-inch base; two 16 by 42 inch ends, and one 24 by 42 inch top
- Cut the 12-foot length of 2 by 4 lumbers into five pieces. Some of the obtained shapes are two 23-inch pieces, one 20-inch piece, and two 39-inch pieces.
- Use the above five pieces to form a rectangle. Ensure that the 20-inch goes towards the end while the longer pieces remain by the sides. Get the 6d galvanized nails and use the same to nail the pieces at each joint
- Get the 23 by 42-inch plywood and used the 6d nails to nail it every 3 inches
- Cut out four 1-foot lengths pieces of plywood from the 16-foot length of 2 by 4 lumbers. Get the two 16 by 42 lengths of plywood and place a 1-foot length at each short end before using the 6d nails to nail the 2 by 4s
- Place the plywood upwards and use 6d nails to nail them to the base frame
- Nail the 16 by 24-inch pieces of plywood to each side of the frame
- Stagger nails at every 3 inches at each point the 2 by 4s meet. Then drill twelve ½ inch holes
- It’s time to construct the lid frame. To do this, cut a 12-foot piece from the 16-foot length of 2 by 4 lumbers. Cut this into two 12-inch pieces and two 4-inch pieces and use the same to form a rectangle
- Place a 24 by 42-inch piece of plywood over the frame and use 6d nails to nail the plywood onto the frame
- You can now place the hinges to the innermost part of the backside of the bin. Ensure that the lid stands upright by the time you put final changes to the bin.
Note: When the bin is ready, ensure that you place it in a convenient place. Also, take care not to place it in direct sunlight or in a relatively cold environment.
General Purpose Compost Bin
As stated earlier, there are many variations of compost bins. Hence, you should choose and build one that meets your composting needs. Nevertheless, you can take advantage of the general format (general-purpose compost bin), which meets most of the requirements of your compost needs.
- 8-16 pieces of 2 by 6 lumber. These would be cut to 3-inch lengths to create four corners for your compost bin.
- 9 square-foot cover
- Four pieces of 2 by 2 lumber
- Galvanized nails
Method of Constructing a General Purpose Compost Bin:
It doesn’t prove a hard task to build this bin.
The steps below would guide you:
- Place two 4 by 4 lumbers, measure one or two inches from its bottom and ensure they are at a parallel of 2 by 6. You can then place the 2×6 lumber on the 4 by lumbers and use two galvanized nails to secure them into position
- Decide on the spacing you need for the compost bin. The rule of the thumb is to ensure the same space across each of the lumber.
- After that, continue nailing the 2×6 lumbers into place until you achieve ¼ of your desired bin. This signals the construction of the first wall.
- Construct the second part of the wall using the same format
- You can now prop up the two walls to connect to the back of the bin at a perpendicular of 2 by 6
- Place the final boards in a perpendicular format across the front face of the bin
- Your bin is almost ready! You can now cover it with a wood or tarp measuring 9 square foot
Does a Compost Bin need Air Holes?
Yes, it does. Oxygen and nitrogen are two of the most important elements required for decomposition to occur, and they are found abundantly in air. A sufficient supply of oxygen also helps to keep anaerobic matter from rotting the compost. Integrating air holes into the sides, tops and bottoms of compost bins would help to balance out the process and improve the overall rate of decomposition.
Can you put a Compost Bin on Concrete?
Many gardeners considering building a compost bin often wonder about the viability of placing a compost bin or tumbler on a concrete floor. While many argue that this is a wrong move since worms won’t find their way easily into the bin, another notion suggests that erecting the bin on concrete doesn’t disrupt the process of composting. Worms are known to slither anywhere they can.
The verdict is, you can put your compost bin on concrete as long as there isn’t drainage or source of water nearby. Besides, worms have a way of getting into the bin. So, you’re free to place your compost bin on concrete.
Building a compost bin is one of the easiest things you can do. If you have the right materials and the construction details (such as the ones detailed on the list), it wouldn’t be a difficult task to construct one. In addition, you can insert air holes and place your compost bin on concrete without attracting any negative effects.