Recipe for building a 3-Bin composting system — for FREE!

Credit: Carolyn Herriot

Tip: Use sieved for topdressing planters and seed starting mix. Each bin makes 1 cubic yard of black gold.

10 recycled wooden palettes, (available at most lumberyards for free). Choose those approximately the same size, with no missing or broken rungs.
Bag of 2in. and 3in. galvanized nails.
8 – 2 in. x 4in. recycled wooden stakes 18” long, with pointy ends cut. (Can also use 18 in. lengths of 3/4 in. rebar).
Thick jute twine, or thin wire, for tying on front palettes.

Nail 2 side palettes to a back palette, and repeat this twice to make 3 connected bins (see main photo).

building the bin
Sledge hammer 2 wedges into the ground at the front of the palettes, and nail them to the palettes to keep them upright and straight. Tie on front palettes, using twine or wire, to contain the layers as needed.

Filling the bins:
Build a lasagna of 6” layers.

layering bin
I choose ingredients from wheelbarrows full of: spoiled hay, fresh or aged manure (llama, sheep, horse, or chicken), weeds (no seeds), grass clippings, herbaceous prunings, leaves, twiggy prunings (cut small), okara (tofu by-product), sawdust, seaweed (after a good winter storm), comfrey, nettles, empty flower pots

Optional: Kitchen scraps.

When kitchen scraps go into compost it attracts rodents. You can line a compost bin with rat proof wire, but a rat proof lid is also required. We put kitchen waste in a recycled plastic composter, which is rat proof. When it’s full we bury the contents into an 18”- deep trench in the vegetable garden, covering it with 9”of topsoil. Microbes break food down fast when buried in soil.

When the bin fills up, turn it into an empty bin. This aerates the pile. If ingredients are dry run a hose as you turn the pile. Moisture is needed to activate thermophilic bacteria for decomposition. This creates heat, which you can feel when you put your hand on the pile a week after it is turned.

Good Reference:
‘Let It Rot! – The Gardener’s Guide to Composting’ by Stu Campbell

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