I had to redo my compost pile this year. My original layout had been sufficient at first, but with 3 gardens going now, I needed more compost, of a more consistent quality. So, the great rebuild of the compost pile was started. My budget was exactly 0$, the end result had to meet the standards of the land lady, and it had to handle my full time gardening habit.
I know, most of you would much rather shoot things, but this really is important stuff here. When it becomes too expensive to ship soil amendments around the world, you are going to need to be able to keep your soil healthy.
YOUR HEALTH DEPENDS ON IT.
YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH DEPENDS ON IT!
If you are depending on your garden for supplemental nutrition (or for mainstay nutrition) those veggies had better have some nutrition. Every carrot is NOT created equal. If that carrot has to struggle to find enough beta-carotene in the soil, it will be a sub-par carrot. If your tomatoes have to struggle to absorb the calcium from the soil, they will develop blossom end rot. I mentioned last week about putting your garden to bed every year. Compost is a big part of that chore. There are also several garden staple crops that appreciate a side dressing of well rotted compost. Compost adds valuable organic matter into the soil, that helps the soil retain moisture; a key trait to have if weather patterns continue to be erratic. Compost is a rich source of various micro and macro organisms. These usually beneficial critters help keep things in balance naturally. (That means less work for you!)
Learning to manage the easy waste streams (vegetable matter) now, makes it more likely that you’ll have a handle on the harder waste streams if the utilities ever shut off. Composting human waste is a bit more tricky than composting moldy tomatoes. Practice with the tomatoes first.
So, on to the DIY part of this post. Naturally, the Y part stands for Yourself. I don’t know what you have on hand, some adaptation to your materials and space will naturally be needed.
I had a post, left in the ground from a fence that we took out. It is a large 4×4 post, sunk 2 or 3 feet down with concrete for good measure. I had a chunk of that aforementioned fence, about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. I put the word out that I needed a couple of pallets, and a friend dropped off these little half sized pallets.
I grabbed my trusty electric drill, and found some screws and an appropriate bit. (I’m a big fan of star headed wood screws.)
I attached the chunk of fence to the upright post with a few screws. Using the edge of the house as a guide, I ran it straight out. I used a handy garden stake pounded into the ground to help support the far end of the fence chunk. Then I stood the pallets up on end, and using BOTH the wood support stake, and the wood of the fence chunk, I screwed the far corner solidly together. Then I put the second pallet roughly in the middle of the space between the house and the first pallet. It got screwed to the fence chunk as well. I used 4-6 screws per joining.
Total tools used:
- Rubber Mallet (hammer would do)
- Electric drill (hand powered would do, if you know what you’re doing.)
- a dozen wood screws, 3-6″ long
- Scrap wood/fencing/etc.
I think it looks pretty good! I may get really creative in the spring and give it a jazzy coat of food safe paint. (It is technically in the front lawn.) We’ll see. It’s enough for now to have the situation sorted before winter. My end of the year lawn clean up has a place to go, and in the spring I can start a second pile and let the first pile compost all year. By separating the actively composting pile from the actively growing pile, I can more closely control the temperature and outcome of the compost.
My favorite book for composting questions and answers: Rodale Book of Composting. Check it out, it’s massive, but I love it.
Happy composting! Anybody else finishing up DIY projects? Do share!
– Calamity Jane