100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 18 – Build a Compost Bin

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Full BinsCompost is not a dirty word. It is an essential building block on a homestead and if you have any vegetable matter or brown matter, you will want to make use of it to build the soil for your garden. All gardens and all animals create waste.

Even families who don’t garden or raise animals, create waste. Vegetable scraps, egg shells, leaves, grass clippings, all of this can be put in the compost pile if you don’t use them somehow as feed for an animal on your farm. Don’t forget to put those coffee grounds to work too (we usually save ours for an exfoliating coffee scented goat’s milk soap, another post for another time, but they are great in the compost bin too).

But there are tons of other places you can get compost materials from.

If you have neighbors that don’t garden, ask them for their compostable food scraps to get started. If you are just getting going on your homestead, you’ll not need it for long but it would be a nice service to pick up a 5-gallon bucket from them every day on the curb and replace it with a new one. Maybe occasionally adding an extra zucchini or two (trust me you’ll have them to spare if you grow them).

You can get waste from grocery stores, your local dump might have a compost area that locals can collect from, landscapers and tree specialist may bring you wood chips for free, and farmer’s at your weekly markets may be willing to give you their rotting fruits and veggies so they don’t have to take it home. Be creative.

A good compost bin has dividers on the sides with circulation for air flow, an accessible area for you to add more, and is placed in a cool area that does not get full sun.

You can use pieces of livestock paneling with smaller wire fencing wired over it, tied together in a box. You can use pallets with chicken wire stapled to them with wood staples. You can use a fancy pre-purchased rig from a store. It really doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it stays damp, warm, and active.

Having something to contain compost in your kitchen until you are able to take it out to the bin is also handy. A bucket or something nicer that you purchased at a store is good, it really doesn’t matter as long as you empty it daily.

You will be the one to ensure that it stays at a good temperature by adding the right combination of green and brown matter and monitoring the temperature. In our next post, we will be talking about the specifics of composting and how to ensure it stays stable.

Do you compost, or have you composted in the past? What was your experience? Do you have a compost area now? Share your experiences or your pics.

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