Composting – DIY

A Compost bin is an essential component for any gardener today. It provides a green solution to disposing of vegetable matter, and recycles it back into the garden. Reducing the need for externally produced compost. This guide describes how to make a moveable wooden compost bin consisting of identical interlocking sections which are stacked on top of each other. If you want to know what to put in your compost bin look below.

As the compost decreases in volume, the top sections of the box can be taken off and used to start building up a new container. Make a few extra sections and you will have a very flexible composting system.

Keep the rain out with a wooden lid or square of old carpet or polythene.

The size

The instructions given here will make a square compost bin 75x75x75cm. These dimensions can be adjusted to suit your requirements and the materials available, which makes it ideal for using reclaimed timber such as floorboards or pallets. We would not recommend a box much smaller than this.

To make one section of the box you will need:

2 of 75cm wooden boards, 7.5cm wide*, minimum 1.5cm thick.

2 of 72cm wooden boards, 7.5cm wide*, minimum 1.5cm thick.

4 of 5cm x 5cm wooden corner blocks, 5.5cm long*.

20 of 3.6cm screws, size number 8.pic2

1 screwdriver, 1 drill, and 1 saw.

Total materials for 10 sections:

30m of 7.5cm x 1.5cm timber;

2.2m of 5x5cm timber;

220 of 3.6cm number 8 screws.

wider or slightly narrower boards may be used, as long as the size of the corner blocks is adjusted to suit. There is no need to keep to the same width for each section if the timber available is variable. Length and thickness should be constant.

Building the box

  1. Cut 2 boards, each 75cm long.
  2. Cut 2 boards, each 72cm long.
  3. Cut 4 lengths of 5.5cm from the 5cm x 5cm timber. These will make the corner blocks.
  4. Take one of the 2 shorter boards and placepic1 it in position on two of the corner blocks. The ends of the board should be flush with the blocks; the blocks should be offset so that they project 2cm beyond the edge of the board, as shown in the diagram.
  5. Hold the board in position on the blocks. Drill 3 holes, 3cm deep at one end of the board, through the board and into the block below. Fasten with 3 screws.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 at the other end of the board.
  7. Now repeat steps 4-6 with the second shorter (72cm) board. For the next stage you may need someone to help hold the pieces while you fix them together.
  8. Stand the 2 shorter boards (with blocks attached) on their ends, approximately 75cm apart, with the protruding ends of the blocks away from you. Place a 75cm board on top of these vertical boards to form the third side of the section. Ensure that the ends of the longer board are flush with the outer edges of the vertical boards.
  9. Drill and screw each end of the 75cm board, as in step 5. Use 2 screws only this time.
  10. Turn the section over so that the unfinished side is uppermost. Place the second 75cm board across between the shorter boards as before. Position squarely and drill and screw as in step 9.

You have now completed the first section of your compost bin. Continue making sections until you have as many as you want.pic3

Q. Now you have your compost bin what can you compost?
A. Find out how to make compost here below.

Good luck with your compost bin construction!

Composting your organic kitchen and garden waste is probably the single most effective thing you can personally do to reduce the amount of rubbish you throw away. Up to 30% of of what goes into an average dustbin can be composted down to make a useful soil improver.

What is composting?
Composting is is a natural process, which breaks down organic waste to make a soil conditioner that is packed with nutrients. Much of our uncooked kitchen and garden rubbish can be composted.
Why compost?
1. Good for your garden:

Digging compost into your soil compost binimproves on its texture and nutritional quality, which in turn produces healthier plants.

2. Good for your environment:

Organic rubbish that is sent to landfill breaks down without air, which causes methane to be produced. Methane is a greenhouse gas twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Making your own compost saves you from buying peat-based compost. Peat bogs are a natural habitat.

3. Good for your pocket:

Composting your kitchen and garden waste at home saves on car journeys and provides you with your own versatile, valuable free resource.

What can I compost?
Yes

  • Uncooked vegetable peelings and fruit
  • Rabbit and guinea pig bedding
  • Torn, shredded or scrunched up paper and cardboard (e.g. egg boxes/toilet roll tubes)
  • Coffee grinds and tea bags
  • Grass cuttings and young or annual weeds
  • Houseplants and flowers
  • Finely chopped or shredded shrub pruning’s
  • Wood Ash
  • Eggshells

No

  • Cooked food *
  • Fish/meat scraps/bones *
  • Pernicious weeds (such as bindweed, thistle, dock roots) or weeds in seed
  • Magazines
  • Coal ash
  • Large un chopped woody branches
  • Cat/ dog litter
  • Soot

Organic waste should be added in layers, some from the kitchen and some from the garden. This way the air pockets help speed up the process and by covering it up with a layer of old carpet or polythene, the warmth stays in too.

Common composting complaints

My compost bin smells

Cause – Compost is too wet. Often due to too many composting vegetable mattergrass cuttings or other ‘greens’.

Solution – Add some scrunched up paper or other dry material and turn to let in more air. In future, make sure that a balanced mixture of different material goes in the compost, not too much of any one thing at the same time!

Nothing seems to decompose

Cause – Not enough heat. Lack of air. Too dry.

Solution – Position in sunlight or make a larger heap. Fork through and add material in loose layers. Moisten compost.

I’ve got rats!

Solution – Rodent proof your bin by putting wire mesh under the base and securing it around the sides. Remove any meat or cooked foods. Prod or stir the contents regularly to lessen the likelihood of them wanting to visit or nest. You can also move things around the bin (rats like familiarity and peace and quiet!)

There are lots of flies when I lift the bin

Cause – Adult flies have laid eggs on your fruit scraps (don’t worry, they are harmless).

Solution – Leave the lid off (or half way off) the bin for a while. This allows access to larger predatory insects/creatures, which will eat the flies. Wrap up fruit waste in paper, or bury it in the heap. Make sure you collect fruit scraps in a covered container. Sprinkle some soil or finished manure/compost over the top to suppress them. Alternatively a layer of damp newspaper will do the same job.

What to do with the compost?

Compost can be placed on vegetable gardens and flower beds or placed around trees. It makes excellent mulch to discourage weeds and and keeps moisture in the soil. Light soil is improved by the addition of compost and heavy clay soil is made lighter and easier to work by digging in compost. Sieved compost is ideal for potting, window boxes and hanging boxes.

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