Monday, May 7, 2012

DIY composter

I've been feeling guilty about not composting for several years. I briefly tried vermicomposting (composting with worms) the year I was pregnant with Nico, but both my efforts and the poor worms were extremely short-lived. With zero budget to put toward a nice composter, I figured we'd go another year without one.

A couple of weeks ago someone left a dozen or so stackable plastic crates at my workplace. I called to see if they were going to be retrieved, but after two weeks and no reply I figured they were fair game. They seemed like they'd be nice for storing stuff in the basement or shed, so I had my dad swing by to pick them up in his truck since there were too many to stuff into my car. As we were loading them he mused, "These would be good to put plants in, you know." Eureka, my dad is a genius! They really would work for a DIY raised bed, which might still happen. But as soon as he said that, I realized they'd also work as compost bin components.

I googled "crate compost bin" and found this tutorial for making a tiered composter out of milk crates. The internet is awesome.

I decided to use duct tape instead of hot glue to attach the landscape fabric liner, since the adhesive powers are about the same and duct tape is vastly easier to work with than hot glue. It was a simple project and took maybe an hour start to finish, and that was including the time spent stopping to take photos and switching out one of the crates for a better one. Because I got the crates for free and already had the other supplies on hand, the total cost of this project thus far is $0.

Composter 1
- towel (to protect table from scratches)
- landscape fabric
- yardstick (to measure fabric)
- tape measure (to measure inside of crates)
- duct tape
- duct tape scissors (to keep sticky residue off nice scissors)

Composter 2
I taped a piece of fabric over the holes on the four sides but left the bottom open for air and water circulation.
Composter 3
First deposit! I need to add browns (dead leaves), but I was eager to get started.
Composter 4
I laid a plastic yard sign across the top for a lid and weighed it down with bricks. I'd like to try using a really long truck tie-down to secure the lid instead of the bricks, but I'll have to find one first.

According to the tutorial I followed, I'm supposed to add vegetable and fruit scraps to the top crate until it's 3/4 full. Once it reaches the 3/4 mark, I rotate it to the middle and start filling the new top crate. By the time the second top crate is 3/4 full, the middle crate's contents should be broken down enough to dump into the bottom and start the rotation again. I will keep you (com)posted. (Sorry…that was was too easy to pass up.)


Ruth said...

I have also been reading up on making a composter, since the new ones are soooo expensive. I have never heard of this method. Do you have worms to help with the process? I am very curious to see how this turns out!

velocibadgergirl said...

Hi, Ruth! No worms added on purpose, though since the bottom grating is open to the ground I'm hoping some will volunteer to join in the process once I have some compost in the bottom bin.

Unknown said...

Thinking about doing this... how did it work for you last year?

Louie Donovan said...

Outstanding, you got the best ideas for composting.

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