Sunday, May 6, 2012

Composting station

 I finally got around to making a new compost bin and reorganizing our composting station.  And as you can see from the picture above, Marilyn, the compost maintenance supervisor, has already taken to it.  The old composting area was sad.  A two-bin system that was always full, and a variety of other bins to hold soil and materials waiting to compost.  The area was cramped, inefficient and not really well thought-out and designed.
The new system is 3 times the volume, and although the last one lasted us 12 years, the new one is much more solidly constructed.  I generally followed conventional plans for a 3-bin composter, but I made the frame of it using 4x4's and used half-lap and other joinery for stronger construction.
Obviously, the new bin is painted- this is for a variety of reasons:
  1. I used a variety of different woods (all recycled and purchased from Home ReSource the best building materials re-use center on the planet), including 2x redwood decking, 5/4 cedar fence boards, and pressure treated 4x4's for the base.  So, to make it all look uniform, I painted it.
  2. I also wanted to tie this compost bin into the color scheme of the other garden buildings like our greenhouse, tool closet and even the back of the shop (below)
  3. Finally, I wanted this area to be a welcoming and inviting place for my wife to do the composting (she does really enjoy this- I am not making it up).

But, since I was not just building a compost bin- I was designing a station.  So, I wanted to accommodate all the tools, sifters and screens for composting.  I built a rack for the compost fork, and shovel, and lined the walls around the area with re-purposed hooks- hose bibs and knobs; apropos for the garden.  Hanging on one of the knobs (below) is my wife's favorite composting tool- a rake head, evidently very useful for screening.



One of the big improvements to the station is a sifter to fit on each one of the bins.  This is in addition to a screen that we use over a wheel barrow (hanging to the left of the compost bin).  The sifter is just a screen (you can see the red frame of the screen) with casters on the bottom that rides in a frame (the black thing below).  This frame fits over the bins- depending on which one you are using.

Here is a short video where you can see the sifter in action!
video
I am glad that I finally built this new composter- it has been on my annual garden project list for several years, and, for whatever reason, I never got around to building it. Though it is great to be able to finally cross it off the list, the most rewarding thing is that my wife is really excited about it, and she has a place that is organized and well-designed for composting fun.

13 comments:

  1. Love the vibrant colors, they really do tie in nicely to the shop. And the re-purposed hose bibs and knobs is a great touch, practical and cool looking, well done.

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  2. My husband demands separating the composting in two - one for kitchen scraps and non weeds and other for weeds out the garden and grass weeds like crab grass. Do you divide yours in that manner?

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    1. No- we combine everything. However, we don't compost weed seeds and weeds that are rhizomatous, like bind weed or even sod forming grasses. I don't know if our compost gets hot enough or hot long enough to kill them, so we don't take the chance. Check out my latest post with some related composting tips.
      Thanks for your comments!

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  3. What size mesh do you use for the sifter? Do you use what falls through differently than what stays on top of the mesh?

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    1. The sifter is 1/2" x 1/2" welding wire hardware cloth. What falls through the sifter is ready to use. Whatever stays on top gets sent back to the "active" side of the compost to continue breaking down.

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  4. did you use any worms in composting? Sorry, I'm new in composting.. all I know is we need worms in composting.. that's the hard thing for me..

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    1. We don't use worms, per se, but their are plenty in the compost bins- you don't have to add them- they find their way their. Worm composting or vermiculture is a great way to compost, and especially indoors.

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  5. I am thoroughly impressed by the nature's haven that you have created :) Inspired, its day 7 of composting for me. I use this beautiful three tiered terracota pot for composting. You can see the pic, here: http://rozitasingh.blogspot.in/2012/05/when-dreams-come-true.html

    Regards,
    Rozita
    (India)

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    1. Hi Rozita,
      Thanks so much for your comments! The three tired terracotta pots are beautiful, and your blog is wonderful. Good luck with all your composting endeavors! You have a wonderful passion and inspired goals.
      Thanks again,
      David

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  6. very interested in this compost setup. would it be possible to get a couple more pictures with some different angles? i'd like to glean a little more of the design in order to mimic it . . . imitation is the sincerest form of flattery . . . please and thank you.
    knklandscapes@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your interest- I'll email you with more information.

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  7. wonderful post David.
    I found you through searching for ways to hang my shovels and tools. I have an outhouse on the property that i will turn into a small shed. I love your idea for hangers! Thanks so much.

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