Impact Community Garden Gets Compost Bins

I’m just putting the finishing touches on some new compost bins at the Impact Community Garden. We decided we needed to do a better job of dealing with our garden waste, and I volunteered to make the composter. I made the bins out of recycled wooden pallets I picked up at one of our local recycling centers. Some of the pallets needed a little work, but I was able to make minor repairs to them so they would serve our purposes.

assembling the compost bins (click on any image to enlarge)

The new bins are much like my Brown Gold Yugo compost bins here at Happy Acres, with a few significant differences. After repairing any broken slats, I stapled some poultry netting to one side of the pallets. The chicken wire goes on the inside and serves to keep the compost from falling out through the slats. I was able to reuse some chicken wire that I had previously used around our garden but was in need of replacement. It worked well on the pallets.

inside of compost bin showing poultry netting and door header

I assembled these pallets together using wire that I looped around the 2×4 parts of the pallets at the back corners. You can see how I did it in the below photo. This was much easier, and less expensive than the metal hardware I used for the bins at HA. And the bins are no less sturdy either. I used some 18 gauge wire I had on hand.

pallets are wired together at the corners

I also used pallets to make doors for the composter. I hinged them with some heavy duty galvanized hinges that should outlast the pallets themselves. The doors are a little heavy to open, but then the only time you really need to open them is when you are removing compost, or moving material from one bin to another. The last detail is a piece of 1×4 I used as sort of a door header that serves to keep the sides a little more stable. I got the idea from fellow blogger Emily’s compost bins. I notched the 1×4 to fit the pallets, and you can see it more clearly in the second photo above.

two hinges for each door

We decided to locate the bins in an odd-shaped part of the garden where the fencing takes a little zig-zag. There’s not enough room to really plant much there, but plenty of room for the compost bins. I think we could actually add a third bin in the future if needed.

side view of compost bins in their little nook

I’m happy with how the composter turned out. The wood will weather to a uniform gray color, and will look better than the unsightly piles of waste we had before. And the bins should promote faster composting of the material too. We have a source for some goat manure that should be a nice addition to the bins, and to the garden after it’s composted.

finished compost bins

While I had the camera with me at the garden I got some photos of what’s growing there. We’ve still got some nice fall crops growing, including kale, collards, lettuce, Asian greens and even some broccoli heading up – all in early December! I hope you enjoyed hearing about our new compost bins. And maybe it will give someone else ideas about how to make their own composter.

broccoli is heading up


Purple Rapa Pop mix Mustard greens

Mizuna Kyoto

Winterbor kale

collard greens

Merlot lettuce

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5 Responses to Impact Community Garden Gets Compost Bins

  1. Daphne says:

    Nice composters. I use pallets too. I wire the back like you, but I don’t have real doors. I have three smaller pallets (four bins) that I move to where I want them. I like them smaller since I don’t open them to put things in. They are low enough so I can get material over them easily but tall enough to keep things in. Occasionally I wish I had a fourth front, but most of the time three is the perfect number. The lower pallets weren’t a thing that I planned on, but they came from the hardscaping of my yard. I only found out how nice they were for me after I grumped about having to use shorter ones.

    • Dave says:

      I looked at your bins when I was doing research for these, and I saw how you used those smaller pallets. I’ve kept my eyes open for them, but so far I haven’t seen any. They would be great for the doors. I guess I could even saw one of the larger ones off, but if I did all that then it might be easier to just make one from scratch. My next project will be to add doors to ours here, and I still haven’t decided exactly how I will do that.

  2. Great work on making compost bins out of recycled material. I love that they have doors that open. I have two manufactured composters of recycled plastic. While it is green to use recycled material for them, the sliding bottom door is hard to slide up, and the door is too little to easily get compost out. It is such a chore that I don’t empty out the compost as often as i should. Somehow it seems to continue to compact or decompose and there is always room inside for more material. Yours look more practical, with good air access.

  3. Jody says:

    Dave, the garden looks great for this time of year! I like that you were able to use mostly recycled parts to do the bins. I’m sure they’ll fill up quickly there.

  4. Liz says:

    Like Lou Murray I have two plastic bins for my compost and I have to say I don’t like them but haven’t got round to replacing them with anything else either. Do you think you need to have two of this style bin or would one be sufficient? My concern being knowing when you can use some of the compost and how to extract it.

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