Guest Post Author Bio: Bailey writes about insurance and other topics for the Homeowners Insurance Blog.
Basically there are two reasons to compost. The first is to recycle leftover food, grass cuttings, and fallen leaves that might ordinarily end up in a landfill. The second is supplementary to the first–you use the compost as fertilizer. The material is heaped up, left to decay, and periodically stirred to improve the decomposition process. Microorganisms are responsible for changing the compost into useable nourishment for the soil, which supplies a new generation of plants, which feed animals, which feed other animals…you get the idea–it’s the cycle of life, and it all begins by making use of otherwise useless material.
No Need to Get Fancy
Although there are numerous aids available to assist you in composting, it all comes down to the fundamentals; make a pile of biodegradable matter and wait until it breaks down. There are many ways to store the compost until it’s ready to use. The most economical is to simply make a pile of the compost. It’ll be easy to turn and use. This is really only practical if you own a large lot. If space is limited there are other ways to stockpile the material that make composting easy–by using a bin. A great many commercially made compost bins are available. Some can be quite intricate, and expensive. But there’s no need to get fancy.
Keep it Fundamental
All you really need to make compost in a confined area is a receptacle of some sort–a compost bin. Using scrap material is the most cost-effective method of making a bin. It doesn’t have to look good, it merely has to work. It can be made from wire mesh and wooden planks, or bricks or any other material that will hold the compost until it’s ready to be used. You’ll want to make sure the structure is sound so the sides won’t collapse from the weight of the compost, or if it happens to fall over. The use of rugged building materials will help ensure the bin functions the way it should, and give many years of service.
Essentially homemade composting bins come in two shapes–with corners or without i.e. rectangular/square, or round. They both have their merits, and neither needs to be elaborate. Rectangular or square bins make the most efficient use of space. If you build a composter with corners, the construction is simple. Four upright pieces of wood connected by cross pieces and covered with wire or other planks, or even something like lattice. If you’re concerned about durability, using bricks would make it last longer. If you construct a brick composter, it should be built near wherever you’re going to use it, because it won’t be transportable. Also, most brick composters are constructed with only three sides so it’ll be easier to turn the compost. Round bins use less material and can be as uncomplicated as a circular band of wire connected by twist ties and set on the ground. Placing a piece of plywood over the bin, topped by an object such as a cement block or a heavy piece of wood, will act as a cover to keep animals out and keep the compost dry.
Not Handy With Tools?
If you can’t find the right materials, don’t have the time, or are simply handicraft challenged, there are inexpensive plastic bins available. An enclosed bin will make aerating the compost more difficult than with an open air composter. That’s why some plastic composting bins have been augmented with tumblers–but then you’re getting away from the basics of a fancy free composter.
My compost bin at home is rectangular and there are spaces between the planks so the air can come in. I believe it is made out of plastic though…or maybe some sort of aluminum type material.
I don’t remember the exact cost as I have had it since I bought my house but it has lasted well over 18 years!!! It sits in my back yard at the very back between my flower bed and my vegetable garden and with the simple lid it comes with, I can turn the soil and keep the animals out easily. I know it was an inexpensive investment purchase at Home Depot (back then it was called Iken Heads or something along those lines)and like I said, 18 years later it still does it’s job and provides my garden with soil I do not have to go to buy.
@ Betty 18 years! Just goes to show that you don’t need anything fancy to get the job done. We have a few bins ourselves and we find the soil works awesome in our vegetable garden.
I try to fill the landfills with compost so future generations will be able to mine good dirt out of them. I consider it my legacy. 🙂
@ Jason Lol! So are you not composting on your own then?
The best kind of material to make compost bins out of is “free” material. Next best kind is cheap material. 🙂
@ 101 Centavos I agree. Anything you can find would work fine. Shipping pallets, garbage bins, or a spare area in the yard all do the trick.