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Building a Compost Pile from Recycled Materials

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building a compost pile with palletsMarch Madness may turn most sports' lovers thoughts to basketball, but to me March madness means composting madness! I admit that I'm sort of a nut for composting. Composting saves so many pounds per year of refuse from ending up in landfills, but more importantly, it enriches the soil. It adds valuable microorganisms to your garden soil as well as nutrients. Better still, if you make compost at home – it's free! What raw kitchen is without vegetable and fruit peels to add to a compost pile?

Many people question how to make a compost bin. You can stack bricks or blocks to form a rectangle and divided it in half with a board or another stack of blocks, putting the new scraps into the left and aged, soil-like compost into the right once nature has done its job of breaking things down. You can indeed purchase a compost tumbler or a commercially made bin, which does save time but not money.  Or you can make a compost bin from recycled wooden pallets.


Make a Compost Bin from Recycled Wooden Pallets


If you've ever ordered construction supplies such as slates, bags of cement or other bulk materials, they often arrive on wooden platforms called pallets. Pallets are made of splintering soft pine boards – junk wood, really. They're nailed or stapled together, and their size and shape make them easy to load and unload onto trucks using a forklift, which is why industry and retail love pallets. However, they're hard to get rid of. Many home and garden centers have extra pallets.  You can ask if they have any they are willing to give away, or simply wait until you have extra to use. Their shape and the wide spacing between the slats of the pallet make them ideal to form a compost bin.

To make a compost bin from pallets you will need:

1.    At least three pallets to form the sides – preferable four (3 for the sides, one for the base)
2.    Hammer and nails

You will need a helper to hold the pallets in place.  If you have four pallets, it's a little easier to do it yourself.  Use a sawhorse or a garbage can to brace on pallet upright, and nail it to the bottom pallet at a 90 degree angle to form the base and one side.  Then nail the other two pallets to the sides, leaving the fourth side open.

If you have only three pallets, you will need a helper to hold them in place. Nail them together along the sides. If you want a sturdier pallet, use metal right angle braces screwed or nailed into place to support the sides.

When your compost bin is done, set it in place and begin adding scraps. The open slats of the pallet allow air and moisture to move freely through the kitchen scraps, helping them to decompose.


Other Recycled Materials to Make Compost Bin


Got an old plastic garbage can that's been squashed by the local garbage truck or rolled around by the wind one too many times? Make it into a compost bin!  Just drill holes into the sides a few inches apart vertically and about a foot apart around the circumference of the can. Add vegetable and fruit scraps and some scoops of garden soil to add worms, insects and healthy microorganisms that will break down the kitchen scraps into soil. The holes along the sides of the can encourage air circulation, which freshens the pile and keeps odors down. If strong odors develop, stir the contents of the can and add lime.  Steam is natural from a compost pile but if the pile feels really hot, you may have too many "fresh" scraps or high nitrogen scraps such as lawn clippings. Add lime or some garden soil to "cool" the pile.

Composting is so easy, anyone can do it! If you have just a little space – say, a bit of room behind the garage, or maybe off to the side of the house – you can add a garbage can pallet, or if you have a bit more space and some of those wooden pallets stores throw out you can create a bigger one. Use your creativity and start composting for a healthier organic garden.



About the Author

Jeanne Grunert is a writer and marketing consultant who moved from New York City to a 17 acre organic farm in rural Virginia. She writes about gardening, health and raw foods for many publications, and her gardening book, Get Your Hands Dirty – A Beginner's Guide to Gardening, is available in paperback ($9.99) and E Book ($5) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/get-your-hands-dirty-a-beginners-guide-to-gardening/8418683 ) You can read more about life on her organic farm on the Seven Oaks home & garden joy blog here: http://sevenoaks-jeanne.blogspot.com/

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These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.


Written by:  Jeanne Grunert
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