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Building a Compost Bin

Easy to assemble and disassemble, this bin can adapt to the size of your compost pile

A compost pile is not a garbage pile, and one way to clearly differentiate between the two is with an enclosure -- a compost bin. The ideal bin retains heat and moisture, is easy to fill and empty, and fends off raccoons, stray dogs, and other animals.

A compost pile is not a garbage pile. A compost pile is not a garbage pile.
Boards can be added or removed depending on how full the bin is. Boards can be added or removed depending on how full the bin is.

My own homemade compost bin is easy to assemble and disassemble and works with whatever size compost pile I have at a given time. It is made of rough-sawn 1x12 hemlock boards, each 5 feet long. I cut the corners from both ends of the boards to create tabs. To keep the boards in place when they are stacked in a bin, I make the tabs into notches by screwing a foot-long 1-inch by 3-inch piece of wood across the end of each board. I make the notch slightly wider than the width of the boards to allow for some movement.

The finished boards stack tier upon tier, like Lincoln Logs. To assemble the bin, I place two boards on the ground parallel to each other. Then I slide two more boards into the notches to form a square. Each time I use a board, I put the opposite side inward; consequently, the boards have remained serviceable even after 10 years. A short piece of scrap wood held by a stake fills in the 6-inch gap at the bottom of the two sides where the boards are held above the ground.

Creating the notches

Cut the corners out of each board to create tabs at both ends. The screw a foot-long piece of 1x3 board across the end of each tab to create a notched end. The notches will keep the boards in place when stacked.

Assembling the bin

The boards that form the sides of the bin stack like Lincoln Logs. Click on the image below to enlarge it and see the additional information about spaces between boards, gaps at the bottom, adding and removing boards, and specs for the side boards.
Click to enlarge.Click to enlarge imageClick to enlarge.
For more on composting techniques and equipment, see All About Compost on VegetableGardener.com.
Photos: Virginia Small; drawing: Bob LaPointe
From Fine Gardening 81 , pp. 47

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