Thursday, January 14, 2010

What You Can Learn About Composting from the 3 Little Pigs...

Talking animals and hungry wolves aside, the story of the 3 Little Pigs proves there are many materials with which to build a compost bin, some better than others. If you combine these supplies with the basic skills of swinging a hammer or bending some wire, you could be the proud owner of your very own DIY compost bin.

Woven Wire Bins are Better than Straw
A bin made from galvanized wire can easily be moved around the garden as needed and will leave your wallet fat (um, if it was fat in the first place). Simple decide how large of a bin you want (the ideal diameter is 3-5 feet) and multiply that by 3.2. That is the length of galvanized 14-gauge wire to buy. Form the wire into a circle and fasten the ends with 4 small chain snaps or plastic zip ties. This type of bin is perfect for extra leaves.

Wooden Bins are Great, Just Don't Use Sticks
If you're concerned that a little huffing and puffing (or freak hurricane) will blow your bin down, consider building a wooden bin. The easiest of wooden bins reuses 4 old pallets. Simply screw or nail 3 wood pallets together to form 3 sides of a square. On the remaining side attach 4 bolt latches to the front edge of the bin and the last pallet. This way you can remove one side to easily turn the compost.

Brick Bins: Your Strongest Defense against Long-Winded Wolves
If you want a bin that really says "not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin" a block or brick bin is for you. Sturdy, durable, and easily accessible, all you need is the ability to stack blocks which most of us acquired before preschool. Just lay the blocks or bricks without mortar leaving spaces between each block to permit the air to flow through. Stack to form three sides of a square. Leave one side open so you can easily access the compost for turning.

Just as our favorite precarious home-builders have demonstrated, some materials should not be used when constructing a bin. Straw, sticks, and other easily decomposing materials will quickly become more like your compost and less like your bin. When possible, use non-arsenic treated lumber or cedar wood for construction since other wood will rot with the compost. Visit this website to find detailed plans for building other types of compost bins:

Disclaimer: Should you happen to encounter a big bad wolf in Cincinnati I do not recommend seeking protection in your compost bin even if it is constructed from bricks. Good luck and happy building!

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