An Assortment Of Compost Bins & Boxes For The DIYer

Here are several different projects (all free of course) that I’ve collected from around the ‘net. I also tucked in a few tips at the bottom to help you get the most out of your composting efforts.

DIY Bin: A cheap project that’s easy to make with chicken wire, lumber and lined with cardboard. An alternate version uses two layers of wire with the gap filled with newspaper or sheets of cardboard.

With Removable Top: Made with pressure treated wood and has a removable top along with a hinged door on one end for easy access.

With Repurposed Wood: Couldn’t be easier to make, great for using up reclaimed wood if you have access to some. Instructions are sparse but the pictures lead the way.

Shipping Pallet Version: Made with 4 shipping pallets, it may not be pretty but it gets the job done.

Easy 2-Trash Can Method: Here’s how to use two galvanized steel trash cans for your home composting.

DIY Plans: Simple structure that is made with wood thermally treated to make it weatherproof and rot-resistant, but you can also build one from stock cedar lumber.

Patio Container Composting: Ideal for balconies or small yards, this project uses three, 3-gallon black plastic plant containers, a pot saucer, shredded wet paper, composting worms and compost.

Cheap & Easy Worm Bin: Composting with redworms is great for apartment dwellers who don’t have yard space.

With Wire Mesh Sides: Some woodworking skills required, made with hardware cloth (1/2″ squares), pressure-treated 2 x 4’s, door hinges and other basic materials.

Stackable Beehive Composter: Stack another addition as the levels get full, opens at the bottom and has a removable roof/lid.

You’ll find another list of projects from the University of Missouri here.


Composting Leaves Without A Bin: How To

Leaves are one of the main ingredients of a compost heap, kept by many gardeners to furnish soil enriching humus material for their plants.

The collecting of material for a pile is a year-around process, but autumn, with its abundance of fallen leaves and garden refuse, is an excellent time to start the accumulation.

There are all kinds of compost piles. Some gardeners make them in pits with brick or concrete sides; some erect a board frame with three sides; some use barrels; but the majority simply make a rectangular pile on top of the ground in a secluded and shaded part of the yard.

Assuming you’d like to do it the easy way named last, here are the fundamentals:

  1. Make the pile 4 to 6 feet wide, and as long as you have material for.
  2. What to put on it: grass clippings, manure (animal or poultry), leaves, straw, kitchen garbage (except fats), peat, fine wood ashes. What not to put on it: plant tops that have been diseased; sticks or other brush with stiff canes or woody parts that would prevent the pile from packing down.
  3. Spread out and trample a layer of the leafy material 4 inches deep; add a thin layer of soil; add another layer of leaves, trampled; more soil, and so on, ending with soil on top and the pile dished in slightly so it will catch the rain.
  4. If you have commercial fertilizer on hand, sprinkle some over each layer as you build the heap, to hasten decaying action and give the pile greater plant food value. Special preparations are on the market for adding to compost to make it decompose faster. Several are nitrogen compounds, and one type actually contains bacteria which go to work on the pile and change it into leaf mold in a matter of months. When you want compost quickly, try one of the these.
  5. Unless rain does the job, wet the pile down about once a week until freezing weather stops you.

In about a year’s time–maybe more, maybe less, depending on how you’ve treated the pile–you can begin to draw from it rich leaf mold for fertilizing and mulching your flowers and shrubs. This humus mixed with garden soil performs many services essential to growing plants–it conserves moisture, opens up the soil to more air, makes cold soil warmer and hot soil cooler, and offers ideal conditions for the billions of soil bacteria on which plants depend for life.

Source: Adapted from The WorkBasket, 1952

How To Shred Leaves Fast:
*First published July 9, 2010 and moved to this page for better organization

Here’s a clever tip from Tipnut’s Mailbag that was sent in by Marjorie sharing how to finely shred leaves lickety-split:

Finely Shred Your Leaves Quickly With This Simple Method
Finely Shred Your Leaves Quickly With This Simple Method

I read this tip in an article a few years back and I’ve been using it ever since:

  • After raking up leaves I store them in big garbage bins about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up. Then take a weed wacker, put it in the bin and power it up, it quickly shreds up all the leaves in the bin.
  • For safety, make sure that you keep the weed wacker turned off until it’s inside the bin and don’t use a bin so large that you have to pull the weed wacker up awkwardly high to get at the top leaves (I use a bin that goes up to mid-thigh and this works well for me).

I find this does a terrific job of breaking down leaves that I’ll then use as mulch or top up the compost bin with and there’s no mess since the garbage bin keeps everything contained neatly.

I also keep the shredded leaves by themselves in a garbage bin to dip into as I need over the fall, this makes a nice fine-leaf mulch that your garden soil will surely appreciate.

Nice tip Marjorie, thanks so much for sharing this with us!

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