How to Start a Compost Bin in Your Backyard

Written by tracy morris
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How to Start a Compost Bin in Your Backyard
You may make a compost bin using wooden pallets. (Linda Holt Ayriss/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Composting turns table scraps and other organic wastes into organic, loamy mulch. While you may think of the process of making compost as long, smelly, dirty and intimidating, if composting is performed correctly it can be a fast, clean and simple procedure. The key to creating good compost is to get your compost pile started properly, preferably in a bin created specifically for the purpose.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Kitchen scraps
  • Grass clippings
  • Peat moss
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dead leaves
  • Straw
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • 4 wooden pallets
  • 1 roll of wire, 9 gauge
  • Wire cutters
  • Drill
  • ½-inch drill bit
  • 6-foot length PVC pipe, 6 inches in diameter
  • Kitchen shears
  • Lawnmower
  • Pitch fork
  • Garden hose

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  1. 1

    Collect your compost materials. Good examples of compost materials include nitrogen-filled organic green materials such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, peat moss and coffee grounds as well as carbon-filled organic brown materials---dead leaves, straw, sawdust and wood chips.

  2. 2

    Locate a good spot for your compost bin. A compost bin should be in a sunny location over well-drained soil. Move all of your compost items and bin materials to a location close to the bin spot.

  3. 3

    Assemble your bin. A simple bin may consist of four wooden pallets joined at the corners. You may join the pallets at the corners by wrapping them with nine gauge wire and twisting the ends together. Construct a bin with walls of 3 feet to 5 feet in height and width.

  4. 4

    Drill 1/2-inch holes in staggered rows over a 6-foot length of 6-inch PVC pipe so that the holes are 1 inch apart. Stand this pipe in the centre of the compost bin.

  5. 5

    Cut all of the compost ingredients into 1-inch pieces. Use kitchen shears for kitchen scraps and a lawnmower for leaves and straw. This will help the scraps break down faster.

  6. 6

    Pile the compost into layers that are 6 inches thick using a pitch fork. Alternate green compost materials and brown compost materials in each layer until your bin is filled with compost.

  7. 7

    Soak the compost pile until the compost is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. The compost will begin to heat immediately.

Tips and warnings

  • Check your compost every three days with a cooking thermometer that has a probe. The internal temperature of the pile should remain between 48.9 degrees C and 71.1 degrees Celsius. Stir the compost any time the temperature drops below 48.9 degrees C. The compost items will gradually decompose into a nutrient-rich, black loam.

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