Some of you may be wondering "what's Jeff been up to this year with the green thing"? Well, I've got a 3-part series for you straight from my backyard 2008.
- Building a Compost Bin using Home Depot lumber and a couple of screws
- Installing a RainBarrel to catch downspout water for garden and pool re-use
- Installing a solar pool heater on the roof of your garage
Today, let's talk compost.
Susan & I have had a small compost bin I made with some old 2x4s a couple of years ago. It was a basic design - called a "one-chamber" because that's all there was. I've really loved not having to put the grass clippings out for 2 years! Also, everything organic from the kitchen has gone out to the pile daily. We got a great compost harvest the second spring but this year didn't go as well. The pile had gotten too high and was a bear to turn (which is required for the stuff to decompose properly) with the pitchfork.
Solution: Rip the thing out and rebuild. Today I finished the compost bin (level two)! It's a "two-chamber" design which will allow me to turn the piles more effectively by going from one side to the other, and pulling out the finished compost as it happens. I would have preferred to have done a "three-chamber" so I had a pile for only finished compost, but space did not allow for that.
I stopped at Home Depot and picked up some PT (pressure treated) 2x4s (the last ones rotted) and 1x4's for the side slatting. I also bought some green-coated chicken wire in 24"x 25 ft (one roll - I already had 25 foot - you'll need two rolls to build this compost bin design). I used 2" deck screws to fasten everything together.
I sunk the posts using a post-hole digger and an iron "digging stick" with a tamping end to pack the posts in place. Lots and lots of measuring with a tape measure and level...The screws tightened the whole compost bin up nicely. Took me an afternoon and a half (with 3 kids in tow).
Right away I noticed how the extra 4 feet really helped separate the materials. Note the difference between the more recent deposits and the almost-ready compost on the left. My nagging problem had been the lack of consistent aeration - the stuff stunk! Now with the ability to turn more often without the hassle factor I'll get better aeration, which means lots of good compost to spread on mama Geoghan's vegetable garden in the fall and spring!
Look for my next piece - on putting together a rainbarrel using a local Lancaster PA barrel source and easily-available plumbing parts.