Making A Compost Bin From Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets can be a quick, cost effective, and easy do-it-yourself way of building a compost bin made of pallets. Also, reusing wooden pallets is an environmental friendly way to put wooden pallets to use in and around your home.

Advantages of making a compost bin of wooden pallets

  • Wooden pallets are low cost, generally free given a little research and sweet talking. You may even have a couple laying around from your last couple of projects.
  • Wooden pallets which are in good condition, they can last for years, even without any sealer treatment.
  • A large capacity compost bin can be created in very little time, once the pallets and required supplies have been gathered.

Where to get wooden pallets?

  • If you don’t already have some wooden pallets available, local small businesses are the best place to look. Smaller companies occasionally get a few pallets and then have to figure out how to dispose of them and, therefore are often willing to let someone have the pallets if nicely asked.
  • Larger companies tend to have arrangements for the pickup of their pallets already, but there is no harm in asking.
  • Also, construction sites, usually, have a few stray pallets laying around which they generally happy to be rid of.

How to choose your Pallets?

  • Pallets should be undamaged, not overly weathered, and free of rot.
  • Pallets should be of the same length, width, and height.

What supplies will you need?


Four pallets will be needed for a single stand-alone compost bin. If you are going to make addition bins, which will share a wall with a previous bin, you will need three pallets for each additional compost bin. For example, two bin requires seven pallets; three compost bins requires ten pallets.
Enough heavy duty zip ties or enough heavy duty wire (e.g., baling wire) to bind the pallets. Approximately 15, 12 inches or longer heavy duty zip ties for a stand-alone compost bin and each additional compost bin.
A cleared, level spot for large enough the compost bins and to permit access to the compost bins to check, repair, fill, turn, and empty the bins. Be sure to consider the size of any equipment you may desire to have access to your compost bins; things like a yard tractor or a wheelbarrow.
Fence posts to provide additional support (optional). For a stand-alone compost bin, four sturdy metal posts, at least as tall as the pallet once driven into the ground. Three more fence posts for each additional compost bin. Over the years, I have found fence posts keep the pallets straight and upright.

How to Assemble you Compost Bin

  • If using fence posts for support, place you first corner post,
  • then attach the pallet securely with sturdy wire (like bailing wire) or zip ties to the fence post.
  • Proceed to the other end of the pallet and repeat the process adding the second pallet.
  • Then repeat the process the process to attach the third pallet.
  • While you are doing this you will want to make sure that each pallet is maintaining a 90 degree angle, so, your compost be in finishes as a proper square.
  • When you mount the the fourth pallet you will want to make it more like a gate, so, you have easy access to turn your compost pile and, eventually, to empty the compost bin. So, you can either secure in a way that you can easily open it or add hinges on one end and some form of a lock on the final end.

Working with wooden posts

  • If you would prefer to make your compost bin using wooden posts you will want to plant you wooden posts and secure your pallets with either nails or screws (which I strongly recommend) rather than tying the pallets in place. Nails have a habit of working loose.
  • Otherwise the process is essentially the same.

To Make a Multi-bin system

  • You can by using either side of the compost bin, as you face the gate and add three more pallets for the new bin.
  • Don’t forget to make the last pallet a gate, just like the first compost bin, and you will want it on the same side as your existing gate.
  • You simply, repeat the process for each additional bin you wish to add starting with the side of the existing compost bins, where you which to add the new compost bin.

Your compost bin is built, what now?

  • Once constructed, line the bottom with permeable a protective barrier to prevent grass and weeds from taking over your compost bins.
  • This permeable protective barrier can be a commercial landscape cloth or couple of layers of flattened cardboard boxes or several layers of newspaper work well for this purpose.
  • And begin adding your compost materials in layers, being sure to water to each layer.
  • Be sure to mix your ingredients and turn your compost bin regularly.

Related References

What Is Green Manuring?

Green Manure Growing In Autumn Garden
Green Manure Growing In Autumn Garden

Green manuring or growing a cover crop for the purpose of cultivating the crop under, as another source of soil humus and a common practice among home gardeners, especially, organic gardeners. Annual and Quick-growing crops, such as winter rye, buckwheat, ryegrass, and mustard, are good for this purpose. They should be cultivated into the soil just before they flower for best results and to avoid seed production.

To solve the problem of temporary nitrogen deficiency after turning these crops under add some balanced fertilizer according to the vendor instructions and or adding some composted animal manure.

Legumes, such as soybeans, vetches, cowpeas, alfalfa, and clovers, have nodules on their roots that house special nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria take free nitrogen from the air, convert it to forms usable by plants, and hold it. When legumes are used for green manure added nitrogen is not needed.

Related References

A Guide To Protecting the Soil in a Permaculture Garden

Permaculture Erosion Protection
Permaculture Erosion Protection

It is important for all gardeners to remember that the soil is one of nature’s most precious resources. We rely on the soil in our gardens in order to grow food. Without the soil ecosystem, plants simply would not be able to survive – and neither would we. This guide to protecting the soil in a permaculture garden will help you ensure that the soil is safeguarded now and for the future.

Protecting Soil Through Planting

One of the main ways that we, as gardeners, can protect the soil is through making the right planting choices. There are several different ways in which plants can help to protect the soil. These include:

  • Stabilizing slopes and loose soil with their roots.
  • Preventing water run-off and erosion.
  • Encouraging the formation of beneficial bacterial and/or fungal networks below the soil.
  • Providing biomass (leaves & other organic matter) which improve soil structure and nutritional content.
  • Creating shade or ground cover to reduce moisture loss from the soil.

Protecting Soil Through Organic, ‘No Dig/ No Till’ Gardening

In addition to taking care to make the right planting choices for a given location, gardeners can also make sure that the soil in their gardens is protected by choosing to avoid damaging gardening practices.

In organic gardens, no pesticides or herbicides are used. Rather, natural methods such as companion planting are used to retain and good balance and keep pest numbers down. By keeping the soil ecosystem free from pollutants that can damage it, organic gardeners help to maintain good soil health.

In addition, many permaculture gardens operate a ‘no dig/ no till’ system. Rather than digging in organic matter and disrupting the fragile soil ecosystem, permaculture gardeners disturb the soil as little as possible. Instead of digging in fertilising material/ organic matter, permaculture gardeners lay materials on top of the soil.

Protecting Soil Through Mulching

In a no dig garden, the main way to add nutrients to the soil is through mulching. Mulching is simply the practice of adding organic matter, compost or well-rotted manure onto the soil surface (also known as top-dressing). When the soil ecosystem is left undisturbed, the biota contained within the soil are able to do their job. Over time, they will draw the nutrients down into the topsoil and incorporate the material for you so there is no need to dig and disrupt the processes at work below.

In a forest garden, much of the work is done for you as a natural mulch will begin to form below your trees and shrubs, as deciduous trees and other plants drop their leaves. Organic material from the forest garden can be simply chopped and dropped where it stands to build up the ‘forest floor’.

The problem with many modern farming and gardening practices is that they neglect or even actively do harm to the soil. In a permaculture garden, protecting and enhancing the soil should always be a top priority.

Related References

How To Create a Great Garden Culture?

Cabbage in Garden Patch
Cabbage in Garden Patch

Gardens are ecosystems like any other – but unlike other ecosystems, we as gardeners have the power to influence what happens within their borders. While all areas in the natural world can be shaped to a degree – it is our gardens where we have the greatest level of agency and control.

In our gardens, we can shape the natural environment and work with nature to meet our own needs and desires. The key to designing, creating and maintaining a successful and sustainable garden lies in understanding what we as gardeners can do to work with nature to achieve our goals. The tips below will help you to create a great garden culture – a holistic system that works for you and for all the plants and wildlife with which you share your space.

Promote Biodiversity in Your Garden

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in a garden is attempting to grow mono-cultures. One of the main problems with large-scale food production is that too few crops are grown over too large an area. Growing only one type of plant en masse can lead to all sorts of problems. Not only are mono-cultures more likely to succumb to pests and disease, but they are also less resilient to changing weather patterns and can cause a degradation of the overall ecosystem.

The same that is true of large-scale agriculture is also true in a garden. Organic gardeners have discovered the benefits of creating polycultures (cultures with a diverse range of plants). By growing a wide range of species, organic gardeners can reduce the likelihood of disaster and improve the resilience of their growing areas. Interplanting various different plants can increase the range of beneficial interactions between them, as well as making it easier to garden organically. Of course, having more plant species can also help to attract a wider range of beneficial wildlife.

To promote biodiversity, interplanting (creating polycultures) is crucial. Annual food crops can be interplanted with other secondary crops of herbs, other vegetables or flowers, while perennial planting schemes form ‘guilds’ of plants which help one another in a wide range of different ways. Companion plants may:

  • Provide shade for other plants.
  • Provide ground cover around plants which reduces moisture loss from the surrounding soil.
  • Dynamically gather nutrients (nitrogen from the air, or nutrients from far below the soil surface) which can be taken up by neighboring
  • Attract pollinators (such as bees and other insects) that allow pollination to occur and fruits to set.
  • Attract predatory insects or other animals such as birds or mammals which eat pest species and keep an ecosystem in balance.
  • Serve as ‘trap’ crops to attract pests that would otherwise damage or destroy more valuable crops.

As well as concentrating on creating a biodiverse planting scheme, organic gardeners can also take other measures to improve the biodiversity (and resilience) of their gardens. For example, gardeners can:

  • Create a wide range of different habitats – g., wild corners, brush piles, meadow, woodland/forest areas, a garden pond, etc.
  • Provide food for birds during winter/ periods of scarcity.
  • Provide ‘housing’ for bees, bugs, birds, bats and other beneficial garden creatures.

Squash Bugs On Melon Vine
Squash Bugs On Melon Vine

Control Pests and Disease

Creating a biodiverse garden is the number one way to control pests and mitigate the effects of the disease. The more biodiverse a culture is, the more harmony will be found within the system. This means that pest species are far less likely to get out of control. There will be no need for harmful chemicals to control pests when the wildlife can do a lot of the job for you.

Of course, there are also other things that you can do to control pests and disease in your garden. Maintaining a great garden culture involves understanding the mechanisms by which pests and disease will spread and doing what you can to reduce the risk of these problems occurring too often in your growing areas.

Good plant hygiene, tidiness and an orderly approach can help to stop things getting out of control. For example, gardeners should:

  • Avoid growing certain annual crops in the same growing area year after year. A good system of crop rotation for plants in the tomato family, brassicas, alliums and legumes can help keep the disease at bay and keep things running smoothly.
  • Keep on top of weeds to avoid excessive crowding or competition. (Weed little and often in main growing areas – though remember some weeds can be useful to the garden as a whole.)
  • Keep paths, greenhouses, polytunnels and garden furniture clean and clear of debris.
  • Avoid spreading disease from one area of the garden to another or from one season to the next on garden tools, pots or containers, gardening equipment or through compost.
  • Only incorporate plants into your garden that come from a trusted source and not damaging biosecurity by importing non-native plants or species, or items that may have come from an infected site.
  • Promptly remove all plants in your main vegetable garden that are past peak-production or have come to the end of their useful life, so the disease cannot fester and the area can be used for successional crops.

If you do have an outbreak of pests or disease in your garden you should:

  • Treat pests/disease organically where this is possible.
  • Where plants will not recover, remove all damaged or diseased materials as soon as possible and dispose of them well away from other crops. (Burning items where necessary and making sure they don’t end up contaminating your growing areas or composting area.)
  • Thoroughly clean all garden tools, gloves, etc. that have come into contact with the diseased
  • Wash hands, pots, etc. thoroughly before using them for any other jobs around the garden.
  • Look for ways to promote better harmony/ greater biodiversity in your garden culture in the future.

Feed And  Protect the Soil in Your Garden

Promoting biodiversity and taking measures to reduce the incidence or spread of pests and disease will go a long way towards creating a great garden culture. But there is one more vital element that will ensure that you can keep your garden culture sustainable over the years to come: care for the soil. No matter how well you tend your garden in other ways, if you do not care for the soil – production and appearance will soon begin to suffer.

In an organic garden culture, feeding and protecting the soil should always be a number one priority. As mentioned above, crop rotation is one of the important ways to make sure your garden thrives. As well as reducing the incidence of pests and disease, moving annual crops from one growing area to another on a rotational basis each year will also help to ensure that the soil retains a good balance of nutrients. For example, legumes planted the year after brassicas or other leafy plants will help to replace the nitrogen in the soil.

Other methods that should be used to protect garden soil include:

  • Adoption of a ‘no-dig’ approach
    • A no-dig garden is one in which the soil is disturbed as little as possible. This allows the soil’s complex web of biota to function as it should. Bacteria and fungi and larger soil creatures such as earthworms all, serve important functions in the soil web. No dig gardening allows these creatures to flourish – to the benefit of the plants and, ultimately, the gardener.
  • The use of organic mulches
    • In a no dig garden, rather than digging compost/ manure or other amendments into the soil, the gardener simply leaves these materials on the soil surface as an organic mulch. It has been shown that this material is naturally incorporated into the topsoil below without the agency of a spade. Using compost, fall leaves, grass clippings, comfrey leaves, seaweed, straw, bark or other materials to cover the ground around cultivated areas helps to complete the natural cycles and return nutrients into the system. Choosing the right mulch materials for the right situation can help the garden culture to remain healthy and even to be improved over time.
  • The use of green manures to protect and enrich the soil
    • ‘Green manures’ are simply cover crops that protect the soil surface from erosion and degradation. Nature abhors bare soil in most situations and leaving soil bare for too long means causing damage to the fragile topsoil ecosystem. Cover crops create a ‘green carpet’ over an area to make sure the area of soil is preserved. Green manures are cover crops which have been chosen to not only protect but also to enrich the soil. These are cover crops which are chopped and dropped to return the nutrients to the topsoil system. Like other organic mulches, these ‘green manures’ can form an important part of an organic garden system.

The above should help organic gardeners to plan and implement their garden cultures in a way that will ensure that the culture is not only great, but also sustainable, and can continue to provide food and other resources for them and their families for years to come.

Related References

Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee Beans and Grounds
Coffee Beans and Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of the kitchen wastes and business, which can be recycled in the garden. So then, the discussion becomes how to use the coffee grounds.  Using coffee grounds in the garden, basically, come down to composting. There several approaches to composting, which can be applied to coffee grounds.

The Value Of Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer

  • The three principal nutrients by which the value of fertilizer is typically measured are; Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Measured by those nutrients, Coffee grounds do have value as a fertilizer when used as compost or applied directly as a soil

The NPK Value of Coffee Grounds

  • Nitrogen (N):28 percent
  • Phosphorus (P):06 percent
  • Potassium (K):6 percent

How Much Coffee Grounds To Use

  • When using coffee grounds as compost or when applied directly as a soil amendment, the volume of coffee grounds should be limit to more than 20 percent of the soil or mix to which it is being added. This rule applies to sheet, trench, and/or postal composting.

Coffee Grounds As Mulch

  • Coffee grounds are generally, fine ground and easily compacted so much so that they can form a barrier not allowing air and water to pass through your mulch. For this reason, coffee grounds are generally not recommended for use as mulch.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

From you Own Kitchen

  • An obvious source of coffee grounds as your own kitchen, Americans tend to drink coffee nearly every day so rather than throwing your coffee grounds in the trash toss minute compost bin and use of her garden fertilizer.

From Your Local Coffee Shop Or Restaurant

  • If you’d like to have more coffee grounds or you’re not getting enough coffee grounds for your purpose from your own kitchen, there are several local opportunities to acquire coffee grounds. In my local area, there are coffee shops like Starbucks or on the grind from which coffee grounds can be readily obtained. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen signs in the local Starbucks saying to ask the barista for coffee grounds for your garden. However, coffee shops may be an obvious choice, but there are any number of restaurants and cities and towns which can be taken advantage of with a little creative negotiation with the owner-operators.

Related References

A Guide To Mulching in a Permaculture Garden

Raised Bed With Mulched Paths
Raised Bed With Mulched Paths

Mulch is merely the name given to the layer or layers of organic material that is laid on top of the existing topsoil in your garden. Mulching is an essential practice in a ‘no dig,’ permaculture garden. This guide to mulching in a permaculture garden will help you understand why we mulch, what materials can be used as mulch, how and where they should be applied. Read on to get a better understanding of this important permaculture gardening technique.

 Why Mulching in Important in a Permaculture Garden

An understanding of where and how we use mulches begins with an understanding of why we mulch in the first place. There are some reasons why mulching is important in organic gardens. These include:

  • Mulching protects the soil surface from erosion and disruption.
  • Mulching can add nutrients to the soil.
  • Mulching helps the soil to retain moisture.
  • Mulching can help to suppress weed growth.
  • Mulching can be beneficial to a range of wildlife.

 Natural Mulch Materials

Some different materials can be used to mulch your growing areas. These include:

  • Wood chip or bark
  • Straw or ‘Strulch’ (Composted straw)
  • Fresh leaves (from a variety of different plants)
  • Leaf mold (Rotted-down Fall leaves)
  • Grass clippings
  • Compost
  • Well-rotted manure

The benefits of using natural mulch materials are that these materials can often be found for free in your garden or the surrounding area.

Shredded Office Paper Mulch
Shredded Office Paper Mulch

Choosing the Right Mulch

When it comes to applying mulch, it is always important to consider where the growing area you are mulching is located, and the plants that are being or will be grown there. The mulch that it is best to use will depend on these factors, as well as the local availability of natural materials.

Each of the mulches mentioned above has strengths and weaknesses in a given situation. While each may be excellent for some applications, the same one can also have a detrimental effect when placed in the wrong location.

For example, wood chip or bark can be an excellent choice for mulching beneath trees or large shrubs but may be detrimental when used around younger plants or annual vegetables. As the wood decomposes, this takes a lot of nitrogen from the soil, so may be harmful to small, leafy plants that need a lot of nitrogen to grow. Grass clippings, on the other hand, are very high in nitrogen, so a mulch from your mowed lawn could be ideal for members of the cabbage family, or other nitrogen hungry plants. This mulch may be too rich in nitrogen for other crops, however, so should be used with caution.

Creating a New Planting Area With Sheet Mulching

One of the great things about the techniques used in mulching is that they can be used to create new growing areas, as well as being used in existing garden growing areas. No matter what you wish to plant, you can create a fertile, moisture retentive place to grow in by sheet mulching an area with layers of natural mulch materials. Sometimes, these sheet mulch beds are called ‘lasagna gardens’ since the layers are built up in much the same way as you might make lasagna in your garden.

Mulch wisely and you will create a thriving garden ecosystem that can serve you and your household for many years to come.

Related References

A Permaculture Garden Guide To Composting

Aging Compost Heap
Aging Compost Heap

One of the key skills any permaculture gardener should learn is how to create good compost. Creating a good compost is key to creating abundant, productive and sustainable permaculture gardens. If you want to be able to grow your food using permaculture principles then creating compost is one of the foundations upon which your garden will be based. This guide to composting in a permaculture garden will help you make your garden the thriving, resource-rich ecosystem that it should be.

Why Composting is Important

 Composting is an important element of gardening because it allows you to adhere to the permaculture ethic of returning the surplus to the system. It allows you to eliminate waste, and make full use of the natural resources at your disposal. It enables you to care for the soil of your growing areas, and to make them rich, fertile places to grow a range of fruit trees and other edible and useful plants. When you create and use compost in your garden, you are completing the natural cycles and creating systems that can endure and sustain for many years to come.

Black Compost Bin
Black Compost Bin with two compartments, which tumbles

Composting Methods

 There are some different ways to create compost. The main methods used in a permaculture garden are:

  • Composting in Place (Sheet mulching with organic materials and allowing them to decompose on top of the soil of your growing areas.)
  • Cold Composting (Creating a heap or large bin in which compost is slowly created.)
  • Hot Composting (Creating the conditions for faster, warmer decomposition in a bin or other container.)
  • Vermiculture (Creating compost with the help of special worms.)

Mushroom growing in Forest Floor Compost
Mushroom growing in Forest Floor Compost

Creating Compost in a Permaculture Garden

 No matter which method you are using to create your compost, the principles at play remain the same. You are taking organic materials that are considered to be ‘waste’ and creating the conditions for their decomposition. Once decomposed, the compost is used to conserve or enhance the fertility of the soil.

Creating a good compost involves a basic understanding of the different sorts of material in a compost heap. The materials are grouped into two categories – carbon-rich ‘brown’ materials and nitrogen-rich ‘green’ materials. Both types are necessary to create a good-quality compost. Brown materials include cardboard, straw, twiggy material, wood chips, and bark. Green materials include green leafy matter, grass clippings, and fruit and vegetable scraps.

To get a good mix in your compost, you should add ‘brown’ and ‘green’ materials in thin layers. Adding in thin layers allows for the right conditions for aerobic decomposition and helps to ensure that your compost does not become too wet or too dry.

In addition to thinking about getting the right mix of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials in your compost, creating good compost also involves thinking about getting a good balance of the main nutrients that plants need to grow: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as the various micro-nutrients needed by plant life. Adding a good mix of different ingredients to your compost will help to create compost with a good nutrient balance.

Creating compost is not rocket science. Anyone can create good, crumbly compost for use in their forest gardens or polyculture vegetable beds.

 Related References