Gardens are becoming more popular as the economy continues tracking downward and people look for ways to trim their expenses. Composting is a major component to successfully increasing crop yields and minimizing material that ends up on landfills. If you have never built a compost bin, there are several designs to choose from, but essentially this article will focus on the basic concepts and designs that can be serve as a fundamental approach for the basic gardener.
Compost bins are essentially a place to recycle plant vegetation to create a robust material rich in nutrients like nitrogen that when added to the soil will help new crops grow more vigorously. Composting is a process that occurs naturally when older material like leaves, grass clippings and old rotting vegetation begins to breakdown and decompose into a rich fertile soil material. This provides minerals and other nutrients for plants, animals and other micro-organisms and along with moisture and external temperatures, the decomposition process becomes very efficient.
Compost bin plans can be very simple and inexpensive and should be designed to accommodate the amount of vegetation that can be housed during this process. Yard trimmings such as old leaves, grass clippings and other plants that have withered over the winter and can be added to the mix. Composting provides an additional benefit by reducing the amount of natural waste being sent to landfills.
There are many companies who realize the commercial viability of this material and actually package this as a product that can be purchased at the lawn and garden stores that many visit everyday. However, if you are truly looking to become a better more self sufficient gardener, you will find that you can create this same product fairly easily for future planting seasons. It does take time for the cycle to occur once started. There are several ways to plan your compost bin:
- A compost pile is the simplest method for generating this material without any structure whatsoever. However, the material that can be utilized first will lay at the bottom of the pile. In order to harvest the rich black gold, periodic turning of the less mature material will need to be done.
- Purchasing a compost bin can also be fairly straight forward, and would consist of a plastic tub or larger bin that can be used to hold the plant matter during the composting process. A large garbage can also provide the same basic function.
- If looking to create your own compost bin, it can be as easy as building a square framed structure surrounded by wire mesh or wood to keep the material from blowing during windy days.
- Another approach would be to utilize a more advanced 2 section configuration. The structure is essentially a 2 stage system with each section setup into 3X3 box like configuration. The first section will house the newest material and will decompose over time. Once the material has progressed to the desired state, it can be moved to the second bin as the finished product, allowing more material to be added to the top of the first bin.
- Compost tumblers are more expensive variations that basically consist of a drum like design. Material is kept self contained within the drum. As plant matter is added progresses the the decomposition process, the tumbler can be turned to separate the finished product for harvesting.
In summary, compost bin plans should be defined based on level of effort you are looking to put into it and the finances you can commit to the project. Composting is a simple and straight forward way of using the natural occurring process to create nutrient rich soil material.