How to Build Your Own Compost Bin and Make Compost at Home: A Practical Guide
If you are growing your own plot of vegetables or fruits, you may find the need for constant manuring to get a better harvest each time. If you don't use fertilizer in each harvesting season, the harvest may eventually deplete and you wouldn't get a return for your effort. But adding fertilizer constantly may be draining your budget. Some fertilizers are so expensive that using them on a home garden isn't financially viable. So what is the alternative? Compost fertilizer!
Advantages of Compost
- Easy to make, even at home
- Very cheap
- Provides basic nutrients for plants
- Reduces household garbage
- Environmentally friendly
- It attracts red worms, which enrich the soil through their waste.
Step 1: Creating the Compost Bin
It is quite important to get the composting bin correctly set up. Go ahead and look at the above picture and get an idea as to what are your options in creating your compost bin. There's no need to buy compost bins, however, as you can easily build one with day-to-day tools.
An easy compost bin can be created with a wooden box or crate that is used for transporting vegetables and fruits by farmers. You may be able to find one at a grocery store or from street seller or farmer. These wooden boxes are ideal for composting, though they may decay in about 1–2 years.
Some key points to consider when creating your compost bin:
- The compost bin should be of a manageable size.
- There should be gaps or holes in the bin for good ventilation. This is critical for a rapid decomposing process.
- There should be a door at the bottom of the bin to extract the compost.
Step 2: Filling the Compost Bin
All natural items—such as leaves and grass, paper, cardboard, fruit and vegetable peels, paper bags, and hay—can be put in the bin for decomposing.
The following items, however, should NOT be put in your compost bin due to hygienic and health reasons:
- Meat and meat scraps
- Any plastic items
- Ceramic, clay, and glass items
- Fiber, clothes, synthetics, and metals
- Dead creatures
- Human or animal feces
- Certain food items, such as bread, pasta, cooked food, and oils
The above items also take a longer time to decompose and may slow down the overall decomposing process.
Step 3: Managing the Compost Bin
These three elements are also crucial components to help the decomposing process and speed up the results.
A sufficient amount of ventilation is required for the items to decompose fast. You cannot add air. But the idea is to let the composting items have enough air inside of the bin. So don't pack your bin to the brim. And if you can turn and mix the inputs in the bin once in a while, it will really help the air flow reach the insides of the bin.
Liquids are essential for the decomposing process. So make sure to add some water into the bin daily or every other day. Water itself will carry oxygen inside the bin and speed up the composting process. Also, water will help the growth/birth of worms that will help the decomposition immensely. (So if you see an innocent red worm in the bin, don't remove it. They are so much help). Rather than filling up the entire bin and then adding water, you can add a little bit of water with each layer of things you put in the bin.
The sun provides heat. Heat is energy. Heat is essential for the items in the bin to decompose. So make sure your bin is placed in a spot that gets at least a few hours of sunlight every day.
The Importance of Red Worms in Compost
Red worms for composting is as essential as any of the things I have mentioned thus far. So please don't remove any red worms if you see them in your compost bin.
Red worms eat the garbage in the compost bin and excrete a very rich humus. This humus is extremely rich in minerals and nutrients. Also, worms eating out the garbage accelerates the process to get compost.
Normally, red worms grow in garbage. They are also abundantly found in muddy areas. So, if you spot some, go ahead and pick up a few of them and put them in your bin.
Step 4: Collecting the Compost
After some time, you can check for the level of decomposition at the bottom-most level of your bin. If the things you put in have broken down into to tiny (almost soil-like) particles, that means your compost is ready. Use the bottom door or opening to extract the compost so that the level above it will replace the extracted compost and provide space on top to add further things to compost.
After you extract the compost, you can either spread it over the soil on your vegetable or fruit garden or loosen the soil around each plant and insert the compost into the soil. The latter method is more effective, since it helps to absorb the compost directly into the soil without being washed away when you water the plants.
What kind of compost bin do you use?
© 2013 Nimesh De Silva