Category Archives: Gardening

New compost bins…

Twenty five years ago, within the first year we lived here on Clay St., I built a 3-bin compost bin set-up, but I took a short cut and just made it with 2×2 lumber and no concrete, rather than something more durable. They lasted all these years pretty well, actually, but it’s high time we rebuilt them, so at last I am.

Here are a few pics of the process (and I’ll add more as the project progresses): 2-digging-out-old-compostsite-clearing1)  Here I’ve removed the old rickety rotten frame, which was 2×2 wood and wire fencing sides. Now I need to remove all the old compost, to clear the site.


2)  I learned about sifting soil & compost at the UCSC Farm & Garden project. I built this soil sifter a couple decades ago, I believe; amazing how well it’s held up. It’s a lot of work to shovel the dirt onto the sifter, then shake it and rub it through the sifter into the wheelbarrow, but it makes for wonderful soil/compost to add to your garden beds. (See a plan of how I built it. The picture below, with Kevin, shows a portion of the soil sifter, and you can see the hardware cloth, the 2×2 wire fencing, and the 1×2 wood around the frame.)4-making-progress3)  After several hours of shoveling and sifting compost and soil, the site is nearly cleared and ready. Temporary compost pile in foreground, waiting for new bins.


4)  With Kevin’s help, the site is now cleared and ready.6-new-bins-plan5) Here are the markings for the (6) 4×4 PT posts that will frame the 2 new compost bins. Each bin will be 4′ x 4′ x 4′, which is the recommended minimum dimensions; less than that and the compost won’t “cook” enough (i.e. bacteria and other decomposers won’t be as efficient).


power-auger-bitThe power auger bit.

6) I rented a 1-person power auger, which made quick work of the (6) 2′ deep holes.

posts-in7) Posts in. They’re 4x4x6′ PT (pressure treated) posts, sunk 2′ in to stand 4′ tall. The power auger made a small enough hole that a 60# bag of concrete filled 2 holes, so only 3 bags for all 6 posts.

fencing-on-posts8) Fencing stapled to posts. I added an extra layer of fencing this time: 1/2″ hardware cloth, which will reduce compost and debris falling out, and it lasts a long time since it’s galvanized. I stapled the hardware cloth to the posts using a staple gun and 1/2″ staples, then attached the heavy duty 2x3x48″ wire fencing using big galvi staples that you hammer in. I reused the old 2×3 fencing, which is showing its age but will do fine; great to keep the old material going.

You can also see the 2x10x4′ PT boards I screwed onto the front posts; they create the “lips” that hold in place the 1×10 (or whatever) boards that I place in the front, building up the front wall as the pile grows taller. Here are some fencing details, a few of which also show the 2×10 boards in the front:

fencing-detail5 fencing-detail4 fencing-detail3 fencing-detail2 fencing-detail19) Now to start filling the new bins with a fresh compost pile:

sticks-on-bottomFirst step is a layer of sticks on the bottom, which helps aerate the pile a bit.

greenwaste-then-dirtOn top of the sticks, a layer of greenwaste, and on top of that, some dirt.

dirt=inoculationThe dirt helps to “inoculate” the compost pile with soil bacteria.