When I first tried composting it was because of two reasons: I was attempting to find a ‘green’ solution and I didn’t want to pay another $7-$10 a bag for it commercially. Using an ‘open air compost bin’ was exactly what I needed. An open air compost bin is simple to make, requires minimal maintenance and will not smell or attract animals to it.
How to make an Open Air Compost Bin
Materials needed to build the compost bin:
- 4 t-posts (fence posts) or something similar.
- Enough chicken wire for at least a 3’x3′ area – in other words 3′ deep by 3′ circumference.
- Clamps to attach the wire to the post (or something similar).
- What to put in the bin:
- A few pounds of dry leaves or other “brown” materials and / or a few pounds of shredded news paper or other paper (no ‘colored’ paper).
- “green” materials scraps
- Find a nice place to put your compost bin – someplace “airy”, yet sunny as well.
- Measure an area for it and put up 2 t-posts for a round bin or 4 for a square bin (remember 3′ deep, 3′ across).
- Stretch the wire around it secure to posts. Bend the cut ends around the other end to secure – be careful the cut ends may be sharp.
- Put a good 4″-6″ layer of brown materials or dry leaves
- Put a 2″-3″ layer of ‘green’ scraps / material
- Continue layering as in steps 5-6 until you’re out of materials or it’s half full.
- Wet it down. Don’t soak it to the point of mushy, but do get it wet.
- Using a garden rake, turn the bottom contents to the top of it once a week, and keep it moist. Continue adding both brown and green materials as needed.
As they say, “compost happens”, but don’t expect immediate results – composting can take up to several months. Turning it and keeping it moist will speed up the process.
I keep a small bucket in the kitchen that has a small vent on the lid for all ‘green’ scraps which get dumped into the compost each weekend – here’s the main things that gets put into my little green materials bucket:
- any leftover uncooked fruits and veggies or scraps (no meat – you can add raw fish but it will smell, but no other meats)
- coffee grounds – filter and all, and tea bags or herbs and tea filters
- broken up egg shells – no cooked eggs
- soaked paper towels – from cleaning cooking spills – don’t add if they have cleaners or other chemicals on them
- peelings from veggies or fruits
For ‘brown materials’ this is what usually gets put in:
- raked, dry leaves
- small twigs I’ve broken up (nothing bigger in girth than your pinky finger)
- shredded newspaper (not the colored type)
- shredded brown paper bags
- used loose hay that’s been trampled by the critters that needs changing