Thursday, May 28, 2009

From un-compost to compost. (Building a bin)

So how do you avoid putting uncomposted materials in your garden that suck out the Nitrogen from the soil?

Well, first of all, you should know that the Nitrogen cycle only lasts about 2 years. Once the bacteria has finished decomposing the organic material (wood chips in our case) then the chemical cycle puts all that Nitrogen it ate up... right back into the soil. So one thing to do is just be patient and let science do its thing.

The other is to add fertilizer, another is to add a compost bin and use it.

We're doing all three. We've got wood chips for the walkway and paths through to the veggies which will eventually be added into the soil and replaced by a brick pathway in 2 years. We've added fertilizer and are due another round as soon as it stops raining everyday (dilution of the fertilizer) and I'm building a compost bin for the garden.

I've looked online for the plastic bins, the ones that spin and look like a small cement mixer. I've looked at the $150 stackable composter with worms added and the $400 insta-compost mixer at Smith & Hawkins that no doubt consumes more energy in it's production that can ever be saved by composting. I've seen the $50 plastic sheet with holes in it and a wire frame that looks like an oversized tomato cage and wondered why a sheet of plastic with holes cost more than $10.

Nah, sometimes you just want it done your way. OK, MY way.
I wanted a dual bin for a 2 year nitrogen cycle, with breathable sides and pressure treated lumber and easy front access.

Then I saw this:

Bingo. Except that this baby (Garden Gadget Double Bin with two covers) sells for $537.15 at No way. Not for a rubbish bin.

Guess I'll just have to make my own.

So it took me quite a few pieces of scratch paper and a general design was born using fence post slats, 4x4's, 2x4's, galvanized screen, landscape fabric and a lot of deck screws.

I've already had to make a few modifications for the lid, but the rest of the design is holding up rather well. A few major design features include that it's higher in the back than in the front so water slopes off, the front bottom 2x4 is designed to be below (or at) the surface level of the ground so that compost can be raked out easily, and the slats that make up the front panels are easily removed through slots in the sides.

Also the back is more wood slats, as it's being set up in front of our fence, and I wanted additional stability. There is no floor... so the worms can come on in and have at it... only the north and south sides have screen and fabric, the divider between the two bin areas is also fence slats.

I'll get better pictures on the actual construction as I finish up the project. So far, cost of materials including brackets, lag bolts, hinges, screws, fence slats & lumber (not including landscape fabric and galvanized fencing... we picked those up for free on Craigslist) is.....

Total: $70.

In the previous post, you can see the sucker (still work in progress, the lids aren't made nor attached yet) in one of the garden pictures.


Marty said...

Hi. what are the lines in the top right corner of your plans?

The Wife said...

Hi, Marty.

Once I figured out what size lumber I needed to cut, I tried to figure out the most efficient way to make those cuts on a single 2x4x8' with the least amount of scrap. Those lines are the measurements and the cuts I came up with.

It's basically the layout for the cut pieces from the left side of the plans at the top.

and btw: below the cut materials list on the left of the plans, there are two drawings for the front slat rails. There are only 2, because the left and right corners are the same, just mirror images of each other.