Composting is a great way to recycle while at the same time enriching your soil. With this easy to build composting bin made out of recycled materials Diane DeVries of Dover, New Hampshire brought a little bit of the farming life from her childhood to her one acre yard on New Hampshire’s Seacoast. Read on to see how she did it.
Homeowner: Diane DeVries
Project: Make Composting Bins out of Reclaimed Wood and Hardware
Our 1930 craftsman era home was built by a family who lived here for 60 years. The details such as wood trim and floors in every room, pulpit staircase to second floor, and hidden canning room in the cellar make this simple home special to us. The small home was built on land that has been in use since the city of Dover, New Hampshire was settled in 1623. We have only one acre of land, and it feels tiny compared to the 40 acres of farmland I was raised on, but I love our home here and take pride in beautifying it. Every time I dig a new garden plot, I find treasures to the past buried in the soil. Sometimes it’s a rusting square nail, bit of glass, or a hinge. All make me wonder about who lived on my soil before me.
A Compost Bin of Recycled Materials
There were two enormous compost heaps in the yard when we moved in, but I pined for a proper bin with two compartments and good airflow. I poked around online to learn the best way to start the compost and to view how others built their compost bins.
My parents had taken down the old fence around the horse pasture at their farm. They had piles of rough cut boards and pressure treated posts to pick through that would make a perfect frame. Dad and I were able to select the best looking of the boards. Then Dad rummaged through a tin of old hardware for some hinges for the doors. The rough cut boards are very heavy, so this compost bin isn’t going anywhere soon.
We built the frame in the corner of the yard near the tree line and our chicken coop. The dappled sunlight mixes wonderfully with the occasional rain storms to speed up the decomposing. We affixed two doors that swing open barn door style and latch with simple hooks, which allows us easy access for turning, adding material to be composted and removing the finished compost for use in my gardens. The four sides and the center divider are wrapped in steel hardware cloth to keep the compost in and allow air to flow through. When the bins were complete, I lined the bottom with sticks and brush about 6-8 inches thick to allow air to flow underneath the compost.
What to Put in Compost Bins?
In the spring I clean out my flower gardens and put in all the cuttings. I also throw in leftover leaves from the fall that were hidden beneath the snow. In the summer all our grass clippings go in the bins which gets the composting process going. Flower cuttings, dead flower heads, shrub cuttings, weeds, some vegetable food scraps are also added in to the bins. In the fall our crab apple and pear trees drop their fruit. We make many wheelbarrow trips to the bins with the fruit to enrich our compost. When the trees shed their leaves the bins fill to the brim. The hay and shavings from cleaning the chicken coop is also spread through the bins. Over the winter the snow settles in and the composting really turns on again. The compost reduces by more than half and does not smell bad. I suggest only using natural waste from around your yard, and avoid throwing table scraps into the bin unless your compost is located far away from your house. Table scraps can attract unwanted rodents or neighborhood pets. There are under-counter solutions for composting your kitchen food in a way that has little to no smell and keeps pests out.
The Benefits of Compost Bins
When I use my bins to make my own organic compost, I constantly improve the soil in my gardens. Whenever I build a new flower bed, I turn the soil and sprinkle in compost. In the fall I mulch my shrubs with compost to encourage healthy growth in the spring. While I’m no master gardener, I am able to grow and transplant with great success. I reduce my overall household waste by recycling yard and kitchen waste in my own one acre backyard. I used reclaimed wood and recycled hardware rather than purchase new wood, saving money and hopefully saving a tree.
Diane DeVries is a graphic designer with her own company Digrafika, LLC. She grew up on a farm and longs to live that life again. She now resides in Dover, NH with her husband and black labrador in their simple 1930 craftsman era home.