What is compost?
Packed with vital nutrients, compost is made by decomposing usable wastes in a pile or bin and then incorporating the finished product into the soil to improve its organic content. Fold the crumbly, sweet-smelling compost directly into the garden soil. Use as a mulch around trees and shrubs or to enrich houseplants. Or sift compost through a screen onto the lawn.
Build your own compost bin
Use new or salvaged building materials, chicken wire, wooden pallets, cement blocks, or plastic. A garbage can makes a compact, manageable container. Even old refrigerator or oven racks can be put into service as sturdy compost walls. Whatever materials you use, be sure to build open slats or punch air holes to allow oxygen to enter and speed up the decomposition.
Repurpose wooden pallets
The wooden pallets used for carting make ideal organic building materials for your composter. Assemble them like cubes without tops or bottoms. Place the structure in an unobtrusive corner of your garden. Plan at least two compartments: one for new wastes, the other for churning rotted compost and for use. A luxury composter has a third bin to separate semiaged material from finished compost. Add boards to the front as the heap grows higher.