How to Build a Deluxe Homemade Composter

This article explains how to build a deluxe homemade composter at home, includes cost for materials, measurements for compost bin, and compost bin illustration.

| September/October 1986

The deluxe homemade composter any way you stack it.  

The great thing about organic decomposition is that it's always ready to start without you. However, if you want to be assured of consistently composted material on a regular basis, you'll need to take the matter into your own hands and provide a setting in which the breakdown process can occur under the best conditions and with your supervision.

How to Build a Deluxe Homemade Composter

Fortunately, compost doesn't ask much in the way of accommodations . . . so, depending on how much you're willing to spend, your homemade composter bin can be as unassuming as a simple wire enclosure, or as fancy as a covered "post-and-beam" model.

If you're short on time and not ready to spend much money on a composter, the "quickie" homemade composter version is right up your alley. It'll take about $40 and less than two hours to put together, and it's made of a 16 foot-long, 14 inch-wire stock panel hacksawed into 48 inch by 52 inch sections and clipped together at the corners with quick-connecting chain links. To ease the chore of filling it up, one of the wire sections can be cut in two, halfway up its 4 foot height, and similarly linked at the horizontal split to make a hinged flap which you can secure at the top with a couple of snap hooks.

Since the panels' wire openings are 2 inches by 8 inches at the bottom and increase to 6 inches by 8 inches toward the top, it's necessary to line the walls with cage fencing (or some other product with openings no larger than 2 inch by 4 inch); this inner grid can be secured to the outer with baling wire or leftover strands from the trimmed-down panels. To put the lid on the kettle, just invest a couple of bucks in a 5 foot by 7 foot polyethylene tarp and some S-hooks or rope to keep the heavy rain of your working pile. Then when it comes time to start a new heap, simply open one corner of the enclosure, remove it, and set it up at a different location.

The "uptown" model shown in the illustration costs considerably more — perhaps as much as $200, depending on where you get your materials — and is nothing less than a weekend project. In return for this investment, though, you'll get a sturdy and attractive compost crib that's been specifically designed for ease of use. Our version has two bins, though it could be built as a single or a triple, depending upon your compost rotation schedule. Its front doors hinge both down and outward, the ventilated partition between the bins can be lowered in stages, and the front center-posts fold down against the ground; fully opened, with the framed covers flipped back on their supports, each stall is surprisingly accessible for routine turning.

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