Homemade compost bins allow one to fit the bin into the general aspect of the property and to tailor the bin or bins to the needs of the gardener and property. They are neither tedious nor difficult to build and may be made from a variety of materials.
The simplest bin is of course none at all. Compost will work quite well in a pile alongside the garden. However, some areas do not allow what they consider unsightly piles of garbage in the yard while a bin is more than acceptable. Besides this, many gardeners prefer the look, convenience and ritual of a series of compost bins.
A quick bin may be made from a 10 length of welded steel wire fencing, 3 feet high. 14 gauge is about right for strength and sturdiness combined with reasonable weight. Clip off the fencing at one end to leave the ends protruding and bend them over to form hooks. Roll the wire into a circle about 3 feet round and hook the end of the cage. You now have a compost cage about 3 feet round and 3 feet high. This is an ideal size for a compost bin. Add the compost to it and when it is time to turn of use the compost, unhook the end and peal the cage from the pile.
Next up in simplicity is the pallet bin. Nail three pallets together to form a U. Take a fourth and wire it to the other three so as to form a door. Alternatively it may be hinged. Some composters prefer to leave off this fourth side or door and simply fill the U, taking compost and adding material through the open side.
A wood frame bin can easily be made by using 2×4 lumber to make four wooden frames each 3 feet by 3 feet or 4 feet by 4 feet. Butt joints and nails are sturdy enough for a compost bin. Each frame can be covered with fencing, chicken wire, snow fence, lattice work or anything else with about a 2″ opening to let air into the pile. Nail three of the frames into a U shape to form a back and two sides. The other frame can be hinged to make a door along with hook and eye arrangements to open and close the bin.
Cinder blocks can be used to make the three sides of a compost bin. Remember to make the bin about three feet high, wide and deep. Leave an inch or so between blocks for air to reach the pile. Bricks could also be used but require a lot more work and stacking. One variation on this stacking theme is to use hay bails. Not only do they provide insulation for retaining the composting heat, but they also gradually break down, adding themselves to the compost pile.
While there are certainly endless variations on these themes a few things should be kept in mind. The pile should be at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet for good composting heat. Aeration is important to keeping the compost working and the easiest way to do so is to turn the pile. Make the bin so as to facilitate the turning. With this in mind, consider making three bins: one to gather material, and two to turn the material from one bin to the next.
Whichever bin you make, compost will happen along with the satisfaction of making your own compost in your own bin.