A Free Composter, and Worth Every Penny

Finding a good source of compost at the local landfill has eliminated the need to try to manufacture compost at home.  But it hasn’t eliminated the need to throw out our vegetative wastes.  Last Summer the Apple Tree fell down on our simple compost bin made out of leftover timbers (treated with whatever nasty stuff they used back then).  We took this as a subtle reminder from the universe that we should build a better compost bin.  As is often the case, life gets in the way and for 9 months now we’ve been tossing the vegetative garbage into a little used portion of the orchard.  It doesn’t lead directly to compost because the animals mostly make off with it first.  Beth has been urging that we should have a real compost bin again.  We’ve thought about a whole range of possibilities including the plastic roller barrels (expensive and small capacity), cinder block and chicken wire (ugly), and just a heap (my favorite).  We had both seen references to using wooden pallets but we didn’t have any idea where you could get them.  As it turns out, once you start looking you see pallets everywhere.  Beth called the local tile company which had delivered ceramic tile for us last year on a pallet and asked if they had three they could spare to make a compost bin.  A trip over there netted 3 good ones and two somewhat damaged.  Then when I went to the landfill for mulch I remembered seeing a sign saying pallets only next to one area.  I asked and they were quite happy to have me haul 3 away.  I took some odd pieces for repairing the damaged ones as well.  We’ve found more available in the back of Lowes where they are happy to have them hauled away.

Wooden pallets

Wooden pallets

Once you have the wooden pallets it’s pretty easy to screw them together with an electric drill and deck screws.  The gaps between the boards provide the necessary ventilation and the height is 3 to 3 1/2 feet so it’s all pretty much what one would desire.  It may not last forever, but the price is right and it recycles items that have become a landfill problem.

Compost bins built from free wooden pallets

Compost bins built from free wooden pallets

4 comments on “A Free Composter, and Worth Every Penny

  1. Melanthia

    We have several variations of plastic compost bins, but I always feel the ones like you’ve made look better. And I think they work better!

  2. Randy

    We made our compost bin out of materials from the landfill. Even got chicken wire there to use. All we bought was the nails to put it together, which we had on hand anyway.

    I’ve got you on my blog roll, but it does not update any suggestions?

  3. Nancy Bond

    Great way to reduce, reuse and recycle! In the early 90’s, my Dad built us a 24×16′ detached garage from pallet boards he was able to bring home from his workplace. Once sided, it made a sturdy, attractive garage which never moved. 🙂

    1. jw

      Great story! As I was putting together the compost bin I was struck by the fact that the pallets could have other uses — stacking bricks or logs, bridging streams, fences for small animals, but I never thought of a garage…