If you live in town or in the country like me, you have considered making a pallet compost bin. I love the idea of being able to turn my garden and raw veggie clippings into food for my plants.
How to build a pallet composter?
This DIY project is defiantly not a difficult one. Growveg has an amazing blog post with a great video of how to build it a pallet compost bin.
I built my pallet composter with 4 wooden pallets all roughly the same size for easy assembly. After a quick trip the the shed which is my hardware store I found a number of longer screws, 2 metal hinges, and some rope (I used baler twine).
Begin by standing up all four skids into a square and screwed 3 of them together. Attach the two hinges to left side of the left skid and created a swinging door. I used to baler twine to keep the door closed it allowed me turn the composting material easily.
What goes into my Pallet Compost Bin?
When I was in college we created Pallet composters for the culinary program. I would make daily trips to the culinary wing and collect their vegetable/fruit peels, and clippings. To avoid animals, and stinky compost it is best to not include processed foods, cooked foods, and meats.
It is crucial to have “Green” Items and “Brown Items” in your compost bin. Each serve a very important purpose in the composting process, too much or too little cause it to smell. A proper and healthy compost pile will not stink at all. It is important that you understand the process of composting before you create your composter.
Understanding the Process of Composting
In the photo about it talks about Browns and greens, but you are probably wondering what that really means.
– decay very slowly
-coarse browns keep the pile aerated
-tend to accumulate in the fall
-tie up nitrogen in soil if not fully composted
-can be stockpiled
-usually contain less water
-will cause foul odours if composted without browns
-accumulate in spring and summer
-supply Nitrogen for composting
-usually contain more water
What we are looking to avoid is “anaerobic bacteria”. Anaerobic batceria come into play when there is low oxygen and they are the ones that produce the smelly gas. To avoid this it is important to follow the proper ratios and turn the pile ever 3-5 days. Watering the compost pile is also very important. I take a milk jug and pour on a few jugs of water after turning. Accidentally I sometimes add too much water and must add more “Browns” to make it right. The sight of worms is always a great sign in the pile, they are helping you compost and indicate a healthy pile!
I also purchased a small cooking thermometer. It is important to that the pile remains around 120 to 140 Fahrenheit , if it is over add water to cool the pile. Measuring pH and moisture content are fun for me but daunting for most. As you play with the compost you will start to get a feel for what is too wet, or too dry. On average 40 lb per cubic foot is the right density.
As the compost is breaking down it will begin to spill out the sides, it is ready to be used and it will help your plants thrive.