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Build a Compost Bin

Compost is better and safer than chemical fertilizer. It enriches the soil with organic materials providing the best possible environment for your plants. Composting is a great way to save money as well. Compost should be thoroughly mixed into the soil, thereby reducing compaction and providing oxygenation. Compost can help plants stay healthier which increases their ability to repel disease. A lush garden landscape can be achieved with a little help from composting.

Like all good things, composting does require a little extra work. The stuff needs to be turned to obtain adequate breakdown of the materials. Only items that will break down naturally should be used. Plant matter such as grass and hedge clippings, pulled weeds and even table scraps are excellent in compost and will add natural nutrients to your soil. There is no reason that your compost pile needs to be a messy pile. A bin will contain the compost and keep it from being spread across the yard by animals or heavy rains.

Before you build a compost bin, consider what your needs are. If you have a small garden or are just starting, a single bin will probably be sufficient and all you need to do is stir it around occasionally. If you are really ambitious, you can use a three-bin system which can be connected or just set side by side. You can use them for different compost materials - regular organic stuff, slow compost like woody plants, and leaves collected in the fall. Or use a three-bin system for turning purposes. Just move the compost from one bin into the next. By the time the compost makes it into the third bin, it should be ready for use.

Decide what materials you will use to build your bin. Some exposure to the elements is necessary for more effective and quicker composting. Chicken wire is not particularly good for compost bins as it can stretch out of shape very easily and does not wear well. Materials like plastic coated wire fencing, hardware cloth or hog wire are good choices. Other materials that are acceptable for building compost bins are spoiled hay bales, old concrete blocks or bricks, wooden pallets, snow fencing, etc.

Remember, wood will eventually compost itself and will need to be replaced before you know it. However, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to build a compost bin is to use wooden pallets. Warehouses, department and hardware stores are good sources for pallets for free, or very cheap. You can use plastic ties to hold four of them together to form a box. Add another bin by simply attaching three more pallets using one side of the already made bin to complete another box. They should last about two years before they break down into compost themselves.

A cinder block or brick bin is easy and cheap to build and lasts virtually forever. Materials don't have to be perfect and can be obtained cheap or for free from brickyards or construction sites. Simply create a square enclosure by stacking the blocks or bricks on top of each other and leave space between for ventilation.


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