A Compost Pile with No Bin
The easiest homemade compost bin is not a bin at all, but merely an uncontained heap situated in your back yard someplace – ideally away from your home, but near the garden. A free standing pile breaks down into compost just as it would within a bin and is easily accessible.The issue with an open compost heap is that pets and animal visitors also have easy access and might consume any fresh kitchen scraps, or worse use the mound as a private toilet.
Pet feces hold pathogens that may spread disease if the compost doesn’t reach a hot enough temperature to kill them off. If you don’t have any pets or other animals that will come in contact with it, then you can safely use this system.
A Compost Bin Made of Chicken Wire
This is the form of homemade compost bin I have always used and it works quite well. Chicken wire is cheap and easy to set up. The cylinder needs to be tall enough to keep animals out and broad enough stirring the compost.
Here’s how you do it:
- Cut a piece of chicken wire so that it is about 4-feet long and 3-feet wide.
- Bend the ends in a couple of inches to avoid sharp edges and stand it up in a cylinder shape, overlapping the ends slightly.
- Use heavy wire to secure the ends on the top, middle and bottom of the cylinder.
- For greater stability, two wooden or metal stakes can be pounded into the ground tightly against the sides within the cylinder.
The chicken wire bin is lightweight and moveable and permits for proper aeration, particularly in rainy climates. It’s important to store the bin on a patch of dirt that is free of grass to avoid the introduction of unwanted seeds developing in the compost which then gets transferred into your organic garden.
Be Mindful of Air Circulation
In dryer climates, the air circulation is too much aeration and might dry the compost out, slowing the process down. You can fix this problem by spritzing the compost with water as needed (but not drenched) and wrapping the chicken wire with cardboard to keep moisture in.
As the cardboard starts to break down – just throw it in the compost and re-wrap the bin with new cardboard. It’s also possible to simply throw a tarp over the entire thing.
Make a Permanent Compost Bin with Cinderblocks
This can be a permanent construction made from stacked cinderblocks on three sides with one side open for accessibility. Cinderblock is comparatively low cost and can last for decades.
Stack the blocks up in a 3-sided design (front open) around 2-feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. You may leave the front open, or put a movable pet / toddler gate in when not in use to keep the critters out.
I suggest you put something over the top since cats and other jumpers will easily find their way in. A cover can be any material like a tarp, corrugated metal, a piece of plywood or whatever you have available that might suffice.