While planting the grape vines yesterday I noticed that the compost bin was in poor repair, to put it nicely.
Made from the thinnest, cheapest plywood I could find, and 1×2 firring strips, it worked well for the last year, but it’s showing its age. The sides are bowing out so the lid doesn’t cover it, the nails I used keep popping out, and plywood chips keep falling off.
Building a Free Compost Bin
During the last year I have seen various compost bin plans, and experienced a bit of compost bin use which put me in a better position to know what I wanted. The old compost bin was slightly larger than was useful for us. I needed something a little smaller so that the compost would be stacked higher. I also found that from time to time I would use the lip of the bin as a fulcrum when turning the pile over — I need a sturdy edge to do that.
Having grown wiser in the last year, I opted to not buy more plywood, but to turn to Craigslist for some free pallets. My intention was to break them down and use the boards to build a new compost bin. When I went to pick up the pallets a mere mile from my house I was delighted to find these 3/4 sized pallets with no gaps between the boards! The
lazy efficient me thought “hey, those might be able to be used as-is! And they mostly were.
If you’re also a Fridley Farmer and want some of these pallets, contact me and I’ll let you know where to get them. The lady I talked with to get them said they always have a lot, and looked slightly disappointed when I only took 6 of them.
I ended up knocking the back boards off of two of the pallets, but kept the boards in the same order and the same length. You can see the 3×4 boards on the bottom of the left and right pallets above – I nailed the boards from the back and front pallets to those 3x4s making a square shape.
Once the sides were all nailed together I used a circular saw to cut the extra inch or so of board sticking out from the front and back edges. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fit, and I certainly expected this project to take longer. If you check out the picture you can see that the back side is a couple of inches taller than the front. Even this was what I wanted so that the rain won’t pool and sit on the roof.
I was going to use boards from another couple of pallets for the roof, but I had a spare piece of 3/4 inch plywood from some shelves I made, so I used that instead.
The backside of the bin has lots of 1.5 inch holes drilled in it for air circulation, and the sides have just a couple of holes. For aesthetics I left the front solid.
As soon as it warms up a little bit again I’ll paint it with my boys.
Composting In Fridley
If you’re going to build a compost bin in Fridley you’ll probably want to read over the city code concerning composting. It can be found in the City Code, section 113
Here’s the bullet point summary:
- Must be in a composting container in the back yard
- 5 feet from property lines and 20 feet from other homes
- Maximum 5 cubic yard volume
- Maximum 5 feet tall
- Impact on others
- Must not smell
- Must not seep into streets, sewers or bodies of water
- What You can Compost
- No meat, bones, eggs, dairy
- No human or pet feces
Composting in Practice
We compost from snow melt to snow fall. No one really wants to hike through the snow to take out the kitchen scraps even though it means we lose out on some compost that could be made. To collect scraps we keep a stainless steel 1 gallon can next to the sink. We have used plastic containers in the past and they worked pretty well, but didn’t look as nice in the kitchen. This container has a clasp and a silicone gasket that keeps odors and bugs at bay. This works well because while my wife is supportive of my composting she does enforce her own code which must also be followed.
Fridley Farm Compost Code:
- It can’t make the kitchen stink
- It can’t attract fruit-flys
- If the compost container is full, everything else is going in the trash
Between kitchen scraps and yard work through the spring and summer we usually end up with two bins full of compost each year. It gets put to good use and makes the hassle worthwhile.