How to Build a Labor-Saving Compost Bin

How to build a labor-saving compost bin. Building a wood container that does the work for you, including diagrams and assembly instructions and a basic compost recipe.

| August/September 1996

Garden and yard: Build a labor-saving compost bin and never break your back turning compost again. (See the compost bin diagrams in the image gallery.)

How to Build a Labor-Saving Compost Bin

I work so hard in the garden that I don't want to work hard making compost as well. I'm sure you've seen the traditional composter design with three separate bins. You're supposed to use a fork to turn the compost regularly from one bin into another to aerate it. My alternative bin design takes up less space in the garden and eliminates that little bit of labor, so you can throw your back out doing something more fun, like weeding.  

Breaking It Down  

The key to leaving your compost in one place is to get air to the center of the pile. I use 2 inch ABS pipe that I drilled full of holes. The sides of this bin have a 2-1/2 inch channel for the pipe ends to ride in, leaving them open to draw in air. I lined the channels with 1/2 inch hardware cloth, folded to fit and stapled to the inside of the sides.

Most of the dimensions in this project are not critical; in fact, you should build it according to the lumber you have on hand. I had some rough redwood fence boards and a few extra 2 by 4 studs; I cut the frame pegs from an old broom handle. Redwood or cedar are the best choices for this project because they're the most rot-resistant. I won't kid you though; you're making a box to hold decomposing vegetable matter and wet dirt. Expect to replace it in 10 or 12 years, no matter what kind of wood you use.

Cutting It Up  

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