New Compost Bin

Tim and I both grew up in families that gardened and composted. So, when we got married and were in our Fairmount rowhouse apartment, it felt weird for us to throw our food scraps into the trash. We knew we wanted to compost, but as urban newbies, our main concern, was that little (and maybe not-so-little) icky critters would get into it. So, we decided on a fully enclosed Envirocycle compact tumbler, which served us well for several years. Recently, though, we’d been creating more scraps than it could handle, and were saving them in a supplementary tub in the middle of the yard. In order to continue with our plan to have grass in the center section, we needed to get that tub o’ compost out of there.

Tim left the corner supports a bit tall, in case we decide we want a lid on top

So, two weekends ago, we designed, and Tim built a larger compost bin. He used leftover decking and fencing that we already had, and two rolls of mesh hardware cloth. In the narrow space to the right of the bin, we will build or find a container for our saved shredded leaves.

A lift-hatch allows finished compost to be accessed from the bottom of the pile

A tip to anyone thinking of trying their hand at composting: the most important thing is to keep the proper proportion of dry browns (shredded fall leaves, dry grasses, saw dust, etc) and wet greens (organic grass clippings, kitchen scraps, used coffee grounds, etc). There should be at least four times as much browns as greens. If you don’t have enough browns in the pile, the breakdown will be delayed, and the pile can get smelly. And who wants a smelly pile?

The new bin was filled with what had been sitting in compost limbo, layered with several handfuls of shredded fall leaves

If you’re interested in reading a little more about composting, check out Mike McGrath’s Compost 101.

There she is, siting in the back corner…

Do you compost? If so, do you have any helpful tips or stories?

5 thoughts on “New Compost Bin

  1. We have just learned that nightcrawlers will help speed the process of turning those “greens” into garden gold.

  2. I want a new composter too. We have the square kind and I would like a large drum like I had in the last house. I must admit, I don’t have four times as much browns. When we emptied it this year, it was full of worms. I don’t know if the nightcrawlers mention by Jay are the same as Red Wigglers that are used in a vermicomposter.
    They would not survive outside in our winters.

    Vicki, the yard looks very nice. You guys are doing a great job.

    • I assumed that Jay was just referring to earthworms, but not sure.

      How can you not have tons of leaves with all the trees around you? The key is that you have to save them from the fall. We suck them up in the fall with a leaf blower/vac that shreds them before they go into the bag. Then we store them in a trash can, so they are at the ready when we add to the compost pile.

      Schmanks. :)

  3. my neighbor had a composting thing when we lived in Memphis. he was awesome. I always felt really REALLY bad when we bagged up our leaves and put them on the curb…like Bill was judging us. I get the same feeling when I forget my reusable bags at the grocery store. I am inspired/guilted into being a better person you guys.

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