Thursday, August 23, 2007


The cottage I was visiting a few weeks ago was missing a way to take care of garbage. It's my wife's family's cottage, and her parents usually bring the waste back to the city or find a nearby dump. I thought it was a good time for me to try building a composter. There's no garden, but the compost can eventually be spread anywhere.

There was a lot of wood available, probably left over from when they built the shed or added a veranda on the cottage. I was able to make the composter without a trip to the store.

Before you make an exact copy, I'll mention a couple things wrong with it. Feel free to point out anything wrong you notice, too. Maybe I'll be able to fix it next time I'm up there.

The design was based on what I could remember from a design online. There were no hinges available, so the roof essentially rests on top. The roof has a frame that slips between the frame of the box. It'll probably be the first point of failure. I'll bring up some straps or hinges next time I visit.

Another thing I did was I used treated wood on the base. Apparently that's not good. (Maybe because the chemicals get in the compost?)

The design is fairly simple, but it took me 2 afternoons to make it. The whole thing is basically a 2 foot cube. It has a solid base, made of 2x6's. 2x2's up the corners. The back wall is made of plywood. The side walls are a combination of plywood and metal window screen. I put some lattice over the screen on one side of the box for purely aesthetic reasons. That's why it looks so fancy.


Darren J 8/23/2007 07:46:00 a.m.


Nice workmanship.

shouldn't the sides be aerated, and the base be in contact with the ground so that worms can get in though?

Not that I would know.
Maybe! I never thought about the bottom like that. I was under the impression that a normal composter doesn't depend on worms.

I have a compost pile at home in the city that rests on some concrete (no box or anything). I see worms have managed to find it.

And two of the sides are covered with window screen, so air should be able to get in and flow over the pile. Do you think I need all four sides to have openings?
Its not just the worms but also the micro organisms that live in the soil. Without these anything you place in it will simply rot. Adding soil to the mix on a regular basis will help but the pressure treated wood will likely kill much of the colony. Do yourself a favour and lose the bottom. Also, turning the compost is important. The walls are less so but they do deter critters from rummaging through your kitchen waste. Popular Mechanics had designs for leaf composters that had walls on three sides to protect from chilling winds for this reason.
This reminds me of when my brother was a wee lad, and he came home from school (nursery school?) with a drawing he had done of my dad. He put the mustache above the nose. He said he couldn't remember exactly what way around it went, so he guessed. We all had a good laugh.

I searched around for designs, and all of them seem to have no bottoms. There's mention of a bottom on one page. Do the popular black plastic bins have bottoms?

Now people will google for compost bins, and find my pictures. Ah, the internet.

Thanks for the advice. I'll try to fix it up next time I'm there. I'm not sure how yet, because I want to be able to use the front door.
Nice building job, but yeah as others have pointed out, I would lose the bottom. I have one of the black plastic bins in my city backyard and it has no bottom - I set it over dirt. It has a locking lid, and two lower side panels to lift up to get finished compost out. Annoyingly the raccoons can figure out how to slide up the side panels. You can make a compost pile - you don't need a bin, but the purpose of the bin is just to keep the wildlife out.
Getting rid of the bottom could be easier typed than done. It'll ruin my doorway, which was one of my main features. I'll figure something out.

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