Thursday, July 1, 2010

The New Compost Bin

I talked a while back about The Plan.  Number one on my list of things to do this season was deal wtih the compost.  I've been dallying in that regard.

Part of the issue is that I couldn't decide what sort of a bin I would like.  The only other compost bin I've used was a round plastic bin approximately 4 feet tall.  It looked much like a garbage bin with a locking lid on the top and a small door at the bottom.  It didn't take up much space and the black plastic soaked up the sunshine and heated the contents inside up very well.  Unfortunately it was quite small and didn't hold much compost.  Air wasn't able to get in and circulate and the small door at the bottom was too small to get at the finished compost inside.

Now that I have the opportunity to pick any bin I want I've had to think long and hard about what things I would like.  I wanted something large.  A compost bin should hold a volume of at least 64 cubic feet (4 x 4 x 4 feet) to create ideal composting conditions.  Since this is such a large yard I should be able to generate a lot of compostable materials.  I will also be able to put large amounts of finished compost to good use as well.

An option would be no bin at all but rather an open mound.  That's what I've been doing up to this point but I really don't like this option.  As you can see it looks messy and it's difficult to build up any mass as the pile continually falls off at the sides.  A bin will hold the compost together creating that critical mass that is required.

One thing missing in my former plastic bin was air flow.  I wanted my new bin to allow air and rain water to penetrate the pile.  Using wire seemed like a way to incorporate this.  The wire however would need to be small enough that birds and animals would not be able to get inside.  Right now the crows watch as I dump our kitchen scraps in the pile and the minute my back is turned they come dig everything out and drag it across the lawn.  While I don't necessarily mind the crows, they do make quite a mess.  My biggest concern though is mice.  A nice warm bin full of food bits makes a lovely home for rodents.  I have previously opened the lid on my compost only to have a rat jump out at me.  If you've ever had this happen you'll understand that I don't want to repeat the experience.

Since I have no building skills this description was passed on to my dear spouse.  This week he presented me with this.
YAH!  a new compost bin.  It's framed with cedar so it won't rot as quickly as regular wood.  It's made with very fine wire so that rain and air can pass through but mice cannot.  There are TWO bins so I can generate lots of compost.  As well, the front of the bins is at a lower pitch so I can easily turn and dig compost.  I'm kind of in love.  Both with the bin and with my husband.  Thanks dear.


  1. Nice solution! :D

    I haven't had a rat jump out at me (Alberta's pretty rat free), but I have had a mouse jump into my face out of a bag of flour once. That was pretty heart-attack inducing...

  2. Great bin! Tell hubby he did an awesome job!

    My compost pile is made of straw bales that after two years I use for mulching the garden and then build another. But I admit in year two it is looking a bit shabby...

    Have fun composting! Kim

  3. Awesome bins! Functional and good looking! Tell hubby to keep that plan, 'cause a shorter version would also make great cold frames!

  4. This looks like a great composting solution! Maybe he should market them. :-) -Jean

  5. @Kyna, yup screaming yelling kind of heart attack.

    @inadvertent farmer - I've heard about using straw bales, interesting technique. and a lot less building required!

    @Aagaard Farms and Jean - Thank you for the compliments! cold frame is another great idea, I thought it would make a great bunny hutch. So many possibilities!

  6. so interesting to hear how you felt about your black composter .. not my favourite at all .. especially the rolling ones .. then again, i have nine black composters in one of my gardens .. pain in the .. well, you know .. my first compost pile was a pile .. 4x4x4 .. loved it .. then graduated to the three bin system .. ours is open and we don't really have much trouble with it .. compost is magic .. enjoy your bins ..

  7. That's a great bin! I wish I had a two or three stage composter! Your looks like it would do the job nicely!

  8. That is a great bin and a very well though-out bin-plan. Looks like your husband is now ready to build a screened in porch.

  9. @Jane - the black composter did the job in a pinch but I always seemed to have to take it apart and dump it every few months in order to get all the compost out. Lots of work and not much fun. Then there were the rats that chewed through the plastic and made themselves at home. I don't miss that bin at all.

    @Laura - I thought it would go in stages but we're already filling up the first compartment so may just turn into a really large pile!

    @LifesHighway - how did you know renovating the porch was on our list of things to do!!