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Inside Bin

How to Build a Compost Bin

I am ashamed to admit that we never composted until now. So in an effort to become more responsible citizens of planet Earth, I asked Dave to build me a compost bin. Isn’t that awesome? I ask and he builds. No questions asked. Ok, there were a lot of questions, but the bottom line is that he eventually built me a compost bin.

We began this journey by searching for plans online. In case you didn’t know, there are about 100 million different ways to build a compost bin. Of course you know this, because you’ve been composting like a responsible human being since 2003.

Photo: Wendell T. Webber

But we haven’t, so we (Dave) had to research all 100 million different composting systems in order to find the right one for us. This took a little bit of time. But we finally settled on a set of plans that we found over at This Old House.

It’s attractive enough, the front slats are removable for easy access, and it’s not overly complicated to build. The only change we made was to double its size, so the finished bin is 2’x4′ instead of 2’x2′. A simple enough modification.

So here’s exactly what you need:

We decided to stain our wood to give it a more finished look. I’m not crazy about the color – it came out pretty orange-y, but I was in no mood to fix it.

From here, the plans were pretty easy to follow (at least, that’s what Dave said and I heard minimal swearing coming from his general direction so I believe him). It’s a matter of lining up the right size boards and screwing ’em in like so.

And as you go along, it’s important to make sure everything is at a neat, 90 degree angle. That’s where the carpenter’s square comes in real handy.

Once all four sides are built, then you can take really mature photos like this:

And then christen it with banana peels. All good compost begins with banana peels. Not really. I totally made that up. Remember, YOU are the compost expert, not me.

So here’s the finished product, lid and all. We plan to build raised vegetable beds on either side of it, so that we’ll have easy access to the goods.

And here’s a coveted peek inside. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their compost.

Wow! Dead leaves and corn husks! You wish you were as interesting as we are.

Note that we also decided to line the entire bin with chicken wire to further critter-proof it. We’re very concerned about critters. In fact, Dave has me SO concerned about critters that every time I lift the lid off, little droplets of water fall into the dead leaves making a rustling sound and I have a heart attack thinking a critter is going to jump out and eat my face. I’ve had three heart attacks in the past two weeks.

So there you have it. We have now fully joined the Green Revolution and my soul has been relieved of some of the excess guilt I’ve been carrying around. Don’t worry, it won’t take me long to find something to replace it.


  1. Willard

    Nice job Dave, and you still got all your fingers. But your right Jess the color just isn’t right. To orange, but it will fade in time with the weather getting to it. Glad to see you put chicken wire inside to keep the little criters out. They woud get in and they still might digging under to get in. So be careful you’ll never know what might be in there.

  2. Jeff

    We have never had a problem with critters in ours. My (uneducated) guess is that if you are doing this right, that the pile stays so hot that it doesn’t attract many critters. One lesson I learned…remember to keep it moist! (I know, that sounds dirty)

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