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

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

 

Why You Should Use Crushed Eggshells In Your Garden And Compost?

Eggshell
Eggshell

Should use eggshells in your garden?

  • The short answer is Yes. This is an exception to the composting rule of not using meat and poultry flesh or bones.

Why Should you use Eggshells in your garden?

  • When accompanied by deep watering during periods without sufficient rainfall, eggshell provides nutrients to help prevent Blossom End Rot (BER).

What do eggshells add to your garden?

  • Eggshells add calcium to your soil and compost. Calcium deficiencies are a significant contributing factor in Blossom End Rot (BER).

What garden plants do adding eggshells to my garden help?

  • Adding eggshell and other sources of calcium will tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits (melons, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, and cucumbers), which are all afflicted by Blossom End Rot (BER).

How can eggshells be used in the garden?

  • There are several easy ways to use eggshells in the garden:
    • My favorite way to use eggshells in to include eggshells in my compost bin, and later incorporating the compost into my garden beds as fertilizer and garden mineral additive.
    • You can break up eggshells as you toss them into the hole before planting your seed or seedlings.
    • You can break up eggshells as you toss them into the hole near vulnerable plants. However, you want to be far enough away from the plant not to damages the plant roots.
    • You can break up eggshells and soak eggshells in water for several days the liquid to water your vulnerable plants. This works well with potted plants.
    • You can also spread crushed eggshells around your seedlings to discourage slugs, pillbugs, and earwigs.

How many eggshells per plant to use?

  • This really is a case where is better, within reason of course.  Basically, as a minimum, use 3 or 4 crushed eggshells per plant.

Printable PDF Version of this Article

Related References

Compost Tip – Suppressing compost bin odors

Compost Bin
Compost Bin

Compost bin order fix

  •   to suppress odors in a compost bin, pour in a box of baking soda and mix the contents of the bin. This will keep the acidity level down in a compost bin and suppress the order.

Related references

Recycling and Reuse – A simple example of the value – coffee can

New Coffee Container
New Coffee Container ($20.00)
Reused Coffee Container
Reused Coffee Container (Free)

How to save money through reuse

I think about recycling and reuse from time to time. Especially, when I’m making the morning coffee. We frequently reuse and repurpose useful items, so, here is a quick and simple example of the value of recycling, or in this case reuse, and how easy it can be.

Walking through the store this last week and noticed the new coffee container, and will round the last couple of pennies, for $20. And, it made me think of value and durability my old red coffee can in the kitchen, which has been in use (reused) for more than a decade at a cost of nothing. Originally, purchased for the coffee inside, we kept the can and began filling it with coffee from small bags. We have been using the can so long, that it’s even inherited a dent last year in the lid when something fell on it, but it still works and it doesn’t look that bad.

Related references