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New compost bin

We built a new compost bin a few weeks ago. I have to be honest: when I say "we," what I mean to say is that I told Jason what to do and got in his way while he lifted things and operated power tools.

We used this design from Practically Functional with a few minor modifications. First, we used 1/4-inch hardware cloth in the hopes that a wire mesh with smaller holes would make the compost bin more rodent resistant while still allowing airflow for aerobic decomposition. We even used hardware cloth on the top lid instead of a corrugated plastic roofing panel. We also ended up placing the handles and hasps in slightly different locations than in the original design. I mean, those were some of the final steps of the project and I was starting to lose focus by that biggie, it still works.

Isn't it beautiful?

We used pressure treated pine. Today's pressure treated lumber is considered safe for edible gardening use, so don't email to tell me how we're going to die of cancer poisoning. At the same time, if I was a parent and/or if I intended to nourish children from my garden, I probably would have gone with the bin designer's choice of untreated cedar out of an abundance of caution.

What pleases me the most about this bin is that it is the minimum recommended size for efficient composting, a cube that is 3-feet long on all sides. It's about twice the volume of our old bin, a snap-together kit of plastic panels, the likes of which we've never seen again since the day we bought it at a big box home improvement store. That old bin served us for many years, but it wasn't the most efficient at composting for the simple fact that it wasn't large enough. I mean, it would get the job done...eventually. And that's the number one complaint about most pre-assembled or kit compost bins (and don't get me started on compost tumblers): they just aren't large enough for efficient composting.

We are lucky to have a lot of composting resources in the DC area. If you would like to compost your kitchen scraps but don't have the space for backyard composting, you may take it to the Saturday farmers' market nearest you for free. Or you may join a compost co-op at your local community or school garden. If you prefer home collection, Veteran Compost and Compost Cab offer fee-based weekly collection. And then there are multiple sources of free finished compost for gardening use including Fort Totten Transfer Station as well as local horse stables and animal farms.

#gardentools #compost #howto