Compost ‘Bin’

My project for today was to put together a compost bin for the garden. I thoroughly believe that the cheaper, the better (as long as it gets the job done) so I invented a plan Daddy-style (i.e. whatever I could cobble together). I happened to find a brand-new pallet alongside the highway last summer, and I’ve been keeping it around with the vague intention if using it as part of a half-cooked plan to use recycled pallets as the framework for raised beds in my garden. Since that project is going to require about 18 pallets and is beyond my skills both as a gardener and as a carpenter at the moment, I decided to use it as the back support for a compost bin.

I used:

four metal fence post thingies (what are they actually called?) that my dad had sitting around in the backyard

my roadside pallet

two other pallets that I got by asking on the local wanted/for sale list if anyone had any to give away

a few stray planks that weren’t actually attached to a pallet, but were the right size

12 nails that I scrounged out of the junk drawer

some baling twine I found in the garage
(I hope you didn’t expect this to be a professional-grade project…)

I found a likely spot behind the garage, about two lawn-mower-passes beyond the edge of the garden and eyeballed the placement for the fence posts. The ground is very soft right now, so seating them didn’t take any more than my own body weight and a three-pound hammer. Once the back posts were in place, I slipped the pallet over the top of the two posts and it fit very nicely. That sounds all simple and neat when I say it, but I felt more like a weakling at the gym, trying to bench press the bar. Probably easier to do that part with a helper and fewer small children saying, “Mama? Mama? What are you doing? Mama? Mama? Mama?” In any case, it got done!

My original intention was to take the end board off of the two side pallets and nail the bare ends to the back panel, but my pallet boards were breaking when I tried to pry out the nails, so I changed the plan. I just positioned the intact pallet perpendicular to the back one, marked the spot for the fence post, pounded it in, slid the pallet over (So much easier with only one post to navigate!) and used some baling twine to secure the corner. The other side was accomplished the same way. The hardest part of this project was keeping the kids from hitting each other or themselves with the hammers.


The front is, as you can see, a few cross-boards for support. I will add more as it becomes necessary, but the idea is to give easy front access and minimally impede airflow. I had the kids ‘help’ break up the sod in the bed of the enclosure, to encourage creepy crawlies to investigate the compost. Whether that will accomplish anything or not, I don’t know, but the kids enjoyed helping.

Our afternoon was interrupted by a severe thunderstorm warning and ‘just a little’ hail! Luckily, the projects were done and I managed to get the van tucked in to the garage and myself back to the house before it started.


Meanwhile, inside, my itty-bitty nursery is growing surprisingly well! I was told not to expect them all to come up. Well… For the moment, I have more tomato babies than I can imagine planting!


Things I learned today:

My van will hold three children, one adult, lunch for all involved, and five pallets.

Lifting a pallet over your head is a lot harder than it sounds.

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