If your yard needs an extreme makeover, improve the soil first. This sounds tough, but compost makes it easy. It’s the ultimate soil amendment – experienced gardeners call it “black gold.” And you can make it for free! All it takes is a blend of yard and kitchen waste.
Unlike sprawling compost piles, this bin keeps the contents neatly contained. Air can circulate freely, which is essential for breaking down the ingredients, and the bin opens on any side, so it’s super-easy to turn the pile. Once you learn how to compost, you’ll be sorry you didn’t start doing it sooner!
- Eight pressure-treated 6-foot 2x4's
- Thirty-two 5/16-inch x 2-inch carriage bolts, nuts and washers.
- Four 3-inch door hinges
- Four large hook-and-eye assemblies
- 12-foot x 36-inch hardware cloth, 1/2-inch squares
- Poultry wire staples
- Waterproof construction adhesive
- Table or circular saw
- Rafter square
- Power drill
- Tin snips
- Heavy-duty work gloves
Cut each 2x4 in half to make 16 3-foot pieces. Cut a 3-1/2-inch x 3/4-inch deep notch (a rabbet) in both ends of each piece. You can do this on a table saw or with a circular saw. Make several close cuts (about 1/8 inch apart) across the grain in the notched section. Use a hammer and chisel to break out the wood between these cuts. Smooth with a rasp.
Fit notched ends together to make four 3-foot-square frames. Drill holes for two carriage bolts in the opposite corners of each notch. Use construction adhesive in each joint before assembling. The nuts should face the outside so the bolts won't catch on your clothes when you're turning the pile.
Use tin snips to cut the hardware cloth into four 3-foot-square sections. Tack each corner of the hardware cloth to the frame with poultry wire staples. Then staple around the frame every 2 inches.
Connect two frames with two door hinges, then put two hook-and-eye gate latches on the other ends. Repeat this step for the remaining two frames. Stand the frames to form a square and latch the sections together.
Put your bin in a level, well-drained area in full sun, with good air-circulation. Add equal parts brown and green wastes.
To aerate the pile, mix or toss frequently with a garden fork, or poke air holes into it with a broom handle. Keep the pile moist, like a sponge, but not soaking wet.
The process is finished when the bottom of the pile has dark, rich soil that crumbles in your hand.