Time For a New Compost Bin

By , October 7, 2013

Michelle told me I had to shut down our current compost bin so that it’ll be available to use in putting the garden to bed next year at this time.

We tackled the job of starting the new bin over the weekend. For once, I remembered to take a camera along and take photos of the process.

Michelle digs the ground level for the first tier of logs (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Michelle digs the ground level for the first tier of logs (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We chose a spot right next to the first bin, near the garden. Ideally, we would have laid it out on the bare ground, propping up the lower end with a wall of beach rocks to level the bin. This time, we dug into the slope and leveled the dirt inside the square of logs. We didn’t dig past the existing rhysome layer, so we should have all the nutrients and other goodies for starting a good compost.

The first tier (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The first tier (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I cut a small pile of 6 foot logs last winter, to add to the bin as needed, so that the sides stay low, but remain above the compost as we add it. I use a simplified log cabin structure, notching the ends of the logs to nest against each other, while leaving about an inch gap between them.

After we’d built it up a few tiers, we added the sponge, a generous pile of biofilter. Ours included a lot of spent plants from the green house and branches cut from an elder bush I pruned.

Basic bin established, biofilter sponge in place (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Basic bin established, biofilter sponge in place (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We will save our compost up until we have several buckets to add all at once. It takes about 3 cubic feet of mass to start the process, and we want to avoid letting a smaller amount sit around while it accumulates.

By the time the pile grows higher than these few tiers of logs, winter will be upon us. I’ll be able to harvest new trees of similar size to provide the rest of the logs. The last bin used 10 tiers; that seems to be the perfect size.

I threw a pile of biofilter over the top of the old pile. As soon as the trees go dormant, and we begin trimming branches around the yard, I’ll put a generous layer of those across the top. This will help insulate it, and hopefully discourage the ravens, who like to dig through the pile.

Over the next year, the composting action will slow and stop. After that, earthworms, molds, bacteria, and other beneficial critters will move in and continue to process it into excellent garden soil.

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