There are many sizes, shapes, and styles of composting bins to choose from. You can
make one yourself or opt for not using one at all and create a compost pile or heap.
A compost tumbler is a cylindrical shape much like a drum laid on its side. It can be
turned on a base that is supported on the flat ends. By turning the drum you are rotating
and aerating the materials at the same time. It is an easy and effective way to rotate your
A bio-orb container is shaped like a round ball and comes in various sizes. The benefits
of this type of container are the ease of getting it around (you can roll it over to your yard
waste and roll it back to its base), and the act of rolling it also aerates and rotates the
contents. There are many small round holes in the container to let air in too.
A wooden box with slats or a wooden framed box with mesh sides can be purchased or
easily made at home. If you can find four wooden pallets, you can nail them together to
create a compost bin very inexpensively or you can find a roll of wire mesh at your local
hardware store. Both of these options allow air to circulate as long as the contents are not
If you do not want to use a bin, start with a pile of glass clippings or leaves and start to
layer your food scraps on top. As time goes by and your pile continues to grow make
sure you rotate and “stir” it frequently. Be warned though, it is not as easy to turn a pile
that is not contained. They tend to grow in circumference over time as the pile spreads
out after rotating.
If you would rather not purchase a bin for your compost pile, you should still devise a
way to contain it. You can easily and inexpensively build your own bin. This will give
you more control over the size of the pile and can prevent unwelcome animals helping
themselves to some free food.
If you are using recycled lumber and it has been treated (either painted or stained) make
sure it has been done using non-toxic material. You do not want anything toxic or
poisonous to come in contact with your compost, especially if you are going to be using it
where you are growing food.
Building Your Own Compost Bin
You will need four 4-foot sections of 2X4 and 20 3-foot sections of 1X6 boards. Begin
by hammering the 2X4 lumber pieces into the ground with a sledgehammer at the corners
of what will become a 3 feet squared container (space each corner post 3 feet apart).
Next, put five boards to every side securing each end of the board to the corner post with
nails. Be sure to leave enough room in between each board for air circulation. You can
use a piece of plywood or another flat piece of material large enough to cover the top as a
Another way to build your own bin is to use new or recycled pallets. Find wooden pallets
(you may be able to find them at a land fill site) and nail or screw them together to form a
square. If you want you can add a fifth to give the bin a bottom, but this is not necessary.
Another option is to enclose the pile with a wire mesh. You can either create a circle
with the mesh and secure with metal ties or hammer wooden posts in a circle around the
pile and secure the mesh to the wooden posts.