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By APC Admin |

Composting has been around for years. Many successful gardeners swear by this secret ingredient for amazing plants and produce. Compost can naturally fertilize your garden, increase the growth of your plants, and is excellent for the environment. Not to mention, anyone can make compost!

The Benefits of Composting

From a gardening standpoint, compost enriches the soil by helping it retain moisture and reduces pests and plant diseases. But it doesn’t stop there.

  • Compost can also help decrease the use of chemical fertilizers.
  • Decreases your carbon footprint by reducing methane emissions from landfills.
  • Helps the production of beneficial bacteria.

Types of Compost

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Composting consists of breaking down organic material. However, there are different types of compost that suit different kinds of gardening.

Compost Tea

The name was derived on the method for making this type of compost. Compost Tea is formed by steeping compost in water. By leaving compost in the water to soak, beneficial microorganisms have the opportunity to grow, making this form of compost highly fertile.

Organic Compost

Simply put, organic compost is an organic matter that has decomposed or broken down by natural aerobic (oxygen loving) microbes. This natural breakdown creates a highly fertile soil.

Bokashi Compost

Unlike most popular composting methods that rely on aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria to decompose waste, Bokashi compost is a type of composting that relies on anaerobic (no oxygen needed) microbes for decomposition. This method allows you to use all types of kitchen scraps, including meat and dairy but requires the use of a Bokashi bucket.

Ericaceous Compost

This type of compost is good for plants that grow in acidic, potentially, infertile soil. You similarly make ericaceous compost to regular compost, but you must pay special attention to the acidity.

Compost Worms

Simply put, you need to use worms to create this type of compost. This occurs when worms eat organic material like food scraps and process them through their bodies. The process creates a highly fertile soil.

How to Build General Compost Bin

If you’re starting out and don’t plan on creating any of the types above, here’s an easy to follow guide on a general compost bin.

Tools and Materials Needed

You can easily purchase the materials listed below at any hardware store.

  • 6-8 2 x 6 boards
  • 4 x 4 x 4 boards
  • Nails
  • Hammer

 

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Steps to Follow

We’ve listed easy to follow steps below where you can build your compost bin in no time.

Step 1: Nail One 2 x 6 Board Across the Bottom of Two 4 x 4s

Find an even area in your yard. Bring out your measuring tape and follow the instructions carefully.

Place two 4x4 wood on the ground 3 feet apart. Leave one or two inches from the bottom and place the 2x6 unto the 4x4 and drive two nails into each.

Step 2: Measure The Amount Of Space You Want

Measure the space you prefer between each 2 x 6. Once you’ve settled on a size, ensure space is consistent.

The standard space between the boards is one to two inches. You can go higher than this but we don’t recommend it since it won’t effectively hold any material inside.

Step 3: Nail Another 2 x 6 Onto The 4 x 4

Continue nailing the 2 x 6 boards by following the spaces. We recommend marking them with a pencil to make the process faster and still maintain consistency.

Step 4: Create Another Section Of The Wall

Once you’ve finished with the first section, continue creating another by following the steps above. You’ll have the second wall assembled that should mirror the first section.

Step 5: Prop Up The Two Walls Parallel To One Another

Prop the sections parallel to one another. Check to see that the spaces in between are parallel.

Start driving the 2 x 6 board in between. Complete this until you have a three wall bin built.

Step 6: Complete The Bin By Placing The Final Boards

Complete the other side of the wall by following the same steps above. See to it the nails you drive into the 4 x 4 don’t collide with the other nails.

Step 7: Cover Your Bin

You can cover your compost bin with wood or tarp. We recommend using a nine square foot wood cover. Its better over the long run. If you prefer this, add wooden handles on each side for easier placement.

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How to Build Yard-Waste Compost Bin

Compared to a general compost bin, the yard-waste uses less wood.

Tools and Materials Needed

For this type of compost bin, you’ll be using more chicken wire and less wood.

  • Chicken Wire
  • Scissors or Knife
  • Wooden Stakes
  • Staple Gun
  • Staples

Steps to Follow

Below are easy steps you can follow and finish in just a day.

Step 1: Cut A Large Rectangle Of Chicken Wire

You’ll form this into a cylinder shape. If you’re not sure what size you need, hold the uncut wire in front of you. You’ll get a sense of how wide and tall you want it to be.

Step 2: Make Four Stakes

Prepare four stakes. You can make these out of scrap wood. Make sure these are longer than the height of your wire since these will be staked into the ground.

Step 3: Flatten The Chicken Wire

Flatten your wire unto the ground. To easier work with the chicken wire, you stretch it out.

Step 4: Attach the Stake

Place a stake along one of the edges of your chicken wire and using a staple gun, attach them together. Remember to leave a space on one edge of stake as you’ll drive this to the ground.

Step 5: Roll The Other Side

Roll the other side of the chicken wire where the end overlaps the staked end. Your wire should have a cylinder shape.

Step 6: Staple The Edge Of Your Chicken Wire Along The Stake

Staple the edge along with the stake. If you’ve opted for a taller compost bin, you may need to crawl inside the wire to reach the stake better.

Step 7: Stake Your Bin Into The Ground

Choose a spot that won’t get in your way later and stake the unfinished bin into the ground. Drive the other three stakes. Once complete the four stakes should form a square shape.

Step 8: Staple The Remaining Stakes

Staple the remaining stakes to the wire. When the bin is fully secured, you can start filling it immediately with yard waste.

How to Build Three-Crate System Compost Bin

If you’re planning on a larger garden which needs more compost, this will suit your needs.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Wood pallets
  • Wire
  • Measuring tape
  • Pliers
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Steps to Follow

Easy to follow and assemble, the three-crate bin can be completed in a day with our guide.

Step 1: Make The End Panels

Set your wood pallets horizontally. This will give you a wider bin instead of a tall and narrow one.

Cut a piece of wire. It should be long enough to wrap around your pallet and still have room to twist until its safely secured.

Follow the same steps on the top corners of the wood pallets and at the bottom. You’ll end up with a three-sided open-faced box. Create another and you’ll have two open-faced boxes.

Step 2: Make The Middle Panels

Using the same method, use the pallet to connect the two open-faced bins.

Step 3: Put Them Together

Complete your three crate system by covering one of the open-faced bins with a wood pallet and wire.

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How to Build a Worm Composting Bin

Building your own worm composting bin is easy to assemble and you don’t need to spend much.

Tools and Materials Needed

The materials you’ll need is something you can easily find around your home. Except of course for the worms.

  • Plastic Bin with a Lid
  • Worms
  • Food Scraps
  • Newspaper

Step 1: Get A Bin

You don’t need to create a bin for this type of compost. You can recycle any old dresser or fish tank.

We recommend a size of 16 x 24 x 8 gallons. Remove any residues by cleaning it with tap water.
Any residue may be harmful to the worms so its best to clean the bin thoroughly.

Step 2: Prepare The Bedding

Instead of soil, red worms reside in the moist newspaper. To prepare the bedding, tear the newspaper into one-inch strips. Avoid using coloured newspapers as this can be toxic to the worms.

Place the newspaper strips into a large garbage bag and add water. The bedding should feel like a damp sponge, moist but not dripping. If it gets too wet, just add dry strips.

Add the strips but make the bedding fluffy to provide air for the worms. Lastly, sprinkle two to four cups of soil. Soil from outdoors or potting soil is fine.

Step 3: Add The Worms

An easy way to maintain your compost bin is to determine how many worms you’re starting with. You don’t need to count them one by one. Just weigh them to get the volume. This will help you determine how much food you’ll need to feed them and to keep a record.

Step 4: Bury Food Scraps Under Bedding

You can feed the worms fruit and vegetable scraps you would normally throw away. However, limit the amount of citrus you place in the bin. Remember not to feed them with meat, bones, oils, or any dairy products.

Food Preparations:

  • Break food scraps into smaller pieces.
  • Feed the worms three time their measured weight per week.
  • Bury the food scraps under the bedding.

Step 5: Place Dry Newspaper On Top Of The Bedding

This will prevent fruit flies and help maintain the moisture balance. If you see any fruit flies in the bin, replace the sheet immediately.

Step 6: Cover Your Bin

Cover your bin but leave it ajar so the bin receives some air. You can opt to drill small holes on the lid but keep away from windows and heaters. You may use lids made of plastic, wood, or cloth.

How to Build a Compost Bin Out of a Trash Can

While we’re on the matter of repurposing, how about recycling a trash can? You don’t have to buy anything and building a compost bin out of a trash can will only take an hour or less.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Trash Can
  • Drill
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Step 1: Prepare The Bin

Remove any lingering trash and thoroughly wash the bin with water.

Step 2: Drill Holes

Drill holes through the sides and bottom of the trash can. This will create ventilation for your compost.

Create an even mix of brown and green materials inside.

Brown materials consist of:

  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood Chips

Green materials consist of:

  • Vegetable and fruit scarps
  • Grass clippings
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds

Step 3: Complete Your Compost Bin

Add a small amount of water to moisten the materials inside. Secure it with the lid and roll it around to mix the contents.

Position a few concrete blocks or bricks and place your bin on top. This will help airflow.

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How to Build a Compost Bin Out of a Bucket

Building a compost bin out of a bucket is similar to the steps with the trash bin - only smaller.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Drill

Step 1: Clean The Bucket

Clean your bucket thoroughly with water. We recommend a five-gallon bucket to get enough compost once it’s ready.

Step 2: Drill Holes

Drill holes on the lower part and bottom of the bucket to help with air ventilation.

Step 3: Add Your Compost Materials

Create an even mix of brown and green materials inside.

Brown materials consist of:

  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood Chips

Green materials consist of:

  • Vegetable and fruit scarps
  • Grass clippings
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds

Step 4: Cover The Bucket

Cover your bucket and your compost bin is complete.

How to Build a Compost Bin Out of Crates

This would be one of the easiest and quickest compost bin you can create. You can finish this in less than an hour.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Crates
  • Paper Bag
  • Weed Block Fabric
  • Durable Glue
  • Soil
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Step 1: Lay A Sturdy Paper Bag On The Bottom Of The Bin

You can choose cardboard if you can’t find any thick paper lying around. The purpose of this is to prevent your compost from falling out of the crate.

Step 2: Glue The Weed Block Fabric To The Walls Of The Bin

Another option here is to use a glue gun. However, you need to make sure that the glue is placed between the fabric and the crate. Cover all sides to prevent insects from getting inside.

Step 3: Stack The Crates

Stack them on top of each other. If your crates don’t sit on top of the soil, we advise you to create a base at the bottom.

Step 4: Add Soil

Add soil to your compost bin with the brown and green materials. Sprinkle it with water to keep it moist.

Step 5: Cover The Bin

You may use different types of cover for the bin. We recommend wood and gluing a handle on top. This will help you to open and access the bin easier.

How to Use A Compost Bin

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A compost bin is a healthy addition to any garden. Learning how to use it properly will give you amazing results aside from hastening the decomposition of organic matter.

Know What Materials to Put in Your Compost Bin

The only kind of materials that belong in your compost bin is organic materials. Organic materials are ingredients that can be naturally found in nature. These organic materials are added in layers to create a composition perfect for decomposing and breaking them down.

What to Compost

You can compost anything made of organic materials where they are easier to break down. Approved foods include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, grass and plant clippings, dry leaves, wood and bark chips, shredded newspaper, sawdust from untreated wood, and much more.

What Not to Compost

Composting inappropriate materials is not advised. Inorganic materials won’t break down naturally, can introduce harmful bacteria into your compost, and pose a variety of other harmful problems. For most composting, you can’t compost materials such as meat, dairy, oil, fat, grease, diseased plants, sawdust or chips from pressure-treated wood, dog or cat feces, and weeds that go to seed.

Identify Your Greens and Browns

You can categorize compostable items into two different categories: green and brown. Green compost includes items that are nitrogen-rich and are usually green. Appropriate materials include things like grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, and weeds. Brown compost contains items that are carbon-rich or naturally turn brown over time. These materials include things like leaves, straw, hay, and sawdust.

A good compost pile has a ratio of 2 parts green compost to 1 part brown compost. This ratio is best due to the way nitrogen and carbon interact to break down organic material.

Shred Your Materials

To improve your compost, you can shred materials before putting them on the pile. Shredding can speed up the composting breakdown and make it more effective because air and moisture can be more evenly distributed.

Monitor the Heat and Moisture

Heat and moisture are essential to a successful compost pile, but these factors must be balanced. If your compost pile is low on moisture, the composting process will slow. If your compost pile is high in moisture, there won’t be enough air for the process to work properly.

To assess the heat and moisture content of your compost pile, just look at it! If it’s dry, you won’t see any evidence of material break down, and the compost will not retain heat. Sprinkle in some water from the top down. If it is too wet, the compost will most likely smell and adding some brown compost usually solves the problem.

Stir Your Compost

Stirring or turning your compost helps to aerate it. The microbes that break down compost need air to do their job. If the compost does not get enough air, the pile will not break down. Other factors such as too much moisture, excessive compaction and overheating, can also lead to a lack of oxygen and aeration.

To avoid a lack of oxygen in your compost pile, regularly stir or turn it. You can do this in a variety of ways, including using a pitchfork to move the contents around or using a tumbler to turn the contents within the barrel.

Keep Your Compost Covered

Covering your compost pile helps you control its condition. It helps retain the heat and moisture necessary for proper function. A cover also keeps the compost pile from collecting too much rainwater.

You can cover your compost pile with anything! If it is in a bin or barrel, chances are, the manufacturer included a lid with the product. If you don’t have a cover, you can use a slab of wood, a plastic sheet, or just about anything you have on hand.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Composting

How Do You Deal With Insects Attracted to Your Compost?

Insects are naturally attracted to compost piles. If you have trouble with pesky insects such as fruit flies or house flies, you can throw a layer of dirt on top of a layer of fresh compost to make it less appealing to insects.

How Do You Prevent Unpleasant Odors From Your Compost Pile?

If your compost smells, chances are it is too wet and/or it doesn’t have enough air. To fix this, throw in some brown compost material and stir it.

What Do You Need to Do if Your Compost Pile Has Become Too Wet, Too Dry, or Too Acidic?

If your compost pile is too wet, add some brown compost materials and stir it. If it is too dry, water the compost from the top down. Use the tips described above (odour, sight, etc.) to identify signs of dryness, wetness and acidity.

What Do You Do if the Leaves Have Become Matted and the Grass Are Clumping Together?

If you see matted leaves or clumps of grass in your compost pile, then your compost it is most likely not getting enough oxygen. To give your compost more oxygen, stir it and take care when adding materials in the future. Limit buildup so your compost can stay appropriately aerated.

Start Composting Today

Composting is beneficial for you, your garden, and even the environment. It is effortless, gives you a way to reduce your food scraps, and reduces your household waste in general. Plus, it nourishes and helps your garden grow!

Composting is so easy to do that you can start immediately!

Need more tips for your garden? Check our in-depth knowledge centre!

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