Simple Compost Bins & Clearing Old Garden Beds

Before The Bins

For a while now I’ve wanted to get some compost bins set up, just haven’t got around to it. I was just tossing compost scraps into our raised, galvanized beds for the time being; to help fill it up and save on soil cost.

This meant kitchen scraps, leaves, dried grass clippings, limbs, etc.. I took advantage of all the leaves that had fallen in late autumn, filling the beds to the tops.

Now that it’s settled some, I can add even more. It’ll definitely help save on soil cost come spring time! I’m hoping we have enough from the soil pile to top them off though.

After a while of trying to decide how I’d like to make the bins, I decided to utilize what we had on hand. Chicken wire, zip ties and thick limbs. After all, composting doesn’t have to be complicated or require expensive equipment.

Tasks Completed βœ“

Once I decided on how to go about setting these up, I had to wait for a window to do so. Between freezing temps and storms, it’s been raining nonstop.. For what seems like an eternity here.

There were finally two days this week where it was sunny with no rain! The first day it was too cold to be out for long, but the following day was perfect.

So ready for the sunny days! Except summer, it can hold its horses of course.

It was so nice that day, it made my heart sing. It was still quite chilly outside, but a light jacket did the trick instead of my puffy coat. It had been so long since we’ve had a day like that, I didn’t want it to end.

I was able to set up the compost bins AND clear out the old garden beds (which was a tangled mess).

The beds were overgrown like crazy, but luckily everything was dried up and easy to pull. I even recovered some fabric planters and pots that had been ‘hiding’.

For the compost bins we used chicken wire (I’m thinking 2-3′ high), straight sturdy limbs, a hammer and zip ties. I hammered in the limbs, two feet apart, in a line – making three sections.

I straightened up that one crooked limb, soon after I finished making the bins.

I then unraveled the roll some, zip tied the start to the first limb, rolled it out and over the second limb, zip tied, and back around to the first to zip tie again. It created a nice little cylinder.

I did have to hammer a tiny branch in the back so it would stay in a circle as I unraveled the roll. I repeated the same for the second bin. I didn’t mess with the third, because I ran out of time; but two is fine for now.

Afterwards, I began filling it with dried leaves and kitchen scraps we’ve been saving. Layering it with leaves, then scraps, repeat. I’ll be honest, I didn’t water it in between or afterwards because it was going to rain that evening anyways.

Overall, I feel like they’re functional and I’m excited to see the process/progress. I made the second one so that when I go to flip the first one, I can just flip it into there. Makes things easier.

As I created the bins, I was clearing out the old beds. I mainly wanted this area cleared out again so that we can grow corn, okra, and a few other things there. Definitely have to fence this area in though, due to the deer and rabbits!

Our Reason For Composting

We really wanted to compost for garden needs, of course. It’ll save on soil cost, it’s healthier and better quality, it puts food scraps to good use, and it creates a more sustainable system for the garden.

I looked at soil bags online, just to get an idea for if we need any for spring, and oof – the prices have gotten even worse.. Not to mention the quality has just become so poor anymore.

Last year I was finding all sorts of trash in our soil bags (multiple brands too) AND the bulk soil (from a landscape place) we bought a year before that. I’m talking rubber bands, plastic, metal, aluminum, tape, glass, wire, string, etc..

SO, composting is looking pretty good! lol Now that we have chickens, we can compost their old bedding as well. I’m debating on whether I’ll keep it separated from the ‘kitchen scrap’ pile or not though.

Just because it’s considered a hot manure and not a cold one. If you have experience with composting, any advice would be much appreciated, as always.

Overall, putting food scraps to good use, instead of tossing them in the trash, is always a win. Especially since we drink coffee and eat bananas everyday. Not to mention the scraps we’ll have when the garden is in full swing.

I do plan on using some veggie scraps to make homemade veggie broth though; instead of always throwing it in the compost bins. Either way scraps will be recycled and used, one way or another!

🍁 Do you compost at all, or are thinking about it? 🍁


23 thoughts on “Simple Compost Bins & Clearing Old Garden Beds

  1. That’s a great way to use up things already laying around! I use wooden pallets to make compost bins, they are always available for free on our allotment site. I also keep chickens and the bedding is perfect for speeding up the composting process and very rich in nitrogen which is great for brassicas. I chuck everything in together, green material, food peeling/scraps etc, woody material, cardboard and chicken bedding. It makes great compost within 6 – 8 months.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I have your kind of space for composting because that amount of compost will sure help save money on soil. I agree, the prices on soil is going to be high this year. I know the peat pellets I bought last year have gone up by $5 this year and it was expensive as it was.
    Currently, I use 2-20 gallon plastic garbage cans with lots of holes drilled for composting bins. I have mostly leaves and the remains of my plants from last year in there. For some reason, it’s not heating up, not sure whether it’s because it’s too cold or the balance of browns and greens is off. Any ideas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It definitely helps having the room for it. It’s insane how expensive everything’s gotten, just in the past year. I wonder if it would be a little cheaper making your own peat pellets? I’m not sure how hard it would be, but it’s a thought.

      The 20 gallon garbage cans is a pretty good idea tho! I’ve seen people use totes with holes drilled in them, stacked on top of each other, to compost vertically in small spaces.

      I’ve read it could be a handful of things: not enough depth to the pile, browns to green ratio is off, it may need aeration (flipped/mixed), or it’s too wet/dry. Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s called “Soil blocking” and I heard that’s for advanced gardeners. I’m not there yet and it feels like a pretty messy process.
        I’ve solved the “too wet” problem, so it might be the off-balance of the green to brown ratio. I’ll have to add some more things in there when I can go out there again. Right now, it’s completely iced over with a layer of snow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to ‘soil block’ but I’ve heard it’s tricky as well. Hopefully the peat pellets aren’t too awful costly this year. It would seem like a messy process.

        Maybe it’s the ratio then. I’m sure you’ll get it sorted out though, when you can get to it next πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m just thankful I bought so much seed starting supplies last year that it should last me through next year. Hopefully, by then, the cost would go back down.


  3. I love your creative compost idea! We’ve been composting for about 5 years. When I say we I guess I should say my husband I just utilize his hard work. He adds chicken bedding, horse poop, straw, along with all his other things. He has a mathematical equation he does, anyways long winded way of saying yes chicken manure can be hot so he lets ours sit for about 6 months to compost, less in summer when it’s unbelievably hot because it breaks down quicker you can tell by the smell when it’s ready it smells like sweet warm earth. (Weird description but it’s the only words I can think of to describe it) In winter it sits all winter long and breaks down much slower. I’m so curious to see how your compost works out!
    We use compost bins because our warm seasons are short so it breaks down quickly.
    Also I thought I was the only one noticing the poor quality of store bought soil over the last couple of years. It’s awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ That’s awesome y’all have been composting for that many years! I’m sure it’s saved you some money too. I’ll have to add the chicken manure to it then. I just didn’t know how much longer it would take to compost (to not burn plants). But that’s not too bad really. Especially if it breaks down quicker in warmer months.

      I think it’s a good description, don’t worry lol I’ll definitely post an update, the further along it gets. Yeah the quality has been hair pulling to say the least! I think I’d rather dig some dirt up from the yard than get another bag from the store πŸ˜…

      Thanks for the advice, it’s much appreciated!


  4. With regards to your used chicken bedding, I would consider using ‘hot composting’ methods, It involves turning your compost pile on a regular basis but that will bring the temperature of your pile up and allow the materials to break down quicker. The ‘berkeley’ composting method if done properly can have fresh compost in 18 days. Hope this helps. Lots of love from The Helpful Heathens

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll have to keep that in mind, thanks! If this rain will ever ease up I’ll give it a try lol That would be awesome to have compost ready in that short amount of time. I’m definitely excited to experiment with the composting process. I appreciate the advice, thanks for stopping by! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting post. Composting is a real passion of mine. You might find your wire method might be difficult to turn. Even on a cold composting level. A cold compost pile could benefit from a turn once a month. Your wire bins would make for great leaf composters though. If you have lots of leaves you can keep throwing and adding those in, but keep it purely for leaves.

    You could simply maintain a compost pile on the ground and cover it with an old tarp or something.

    Hot composting is a fantastic way of getting compost soil quicker and pending what you use and how much time you could dedicate to it manye not during the winter months if it freeezes, but spring through to autum you could run a hot compost where you turn once every three days.

    I produce domestically in the region of ten ton of compost soil a year. I used to give away what we didn’t use for the garden here, but now with the allotment it’ll be kept for our own uses.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for swinging by! I didn’t realize it at first, but I agree it may be difficult to turn. I’m thinking about fixing the front of it, to where I can swing it open whenever it’s time to turn. I may leave one or two how they are, strictly for leaves though.

    I’ll keep that in mind, that seems a lot simpler – to just make a pile and cover it with a tarp.

    Hot composting sounds amazing. If I have time to dedicate to it, during the warmer seasons, I’ll definitely give it a go! It’ll be great for when we clean the chicken run/coop out.

    That’s fascinating you produce that much compost a year! Such a wonderful way to cut down on waste, and produce lovely gold for the garden. I appreciate your advice and visit; I hope you have a good week 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks – wishing you a great week also.

      Chiecken manure in the compost pile is a great heating agent as well, alongside any livestock manures – cow, sheep, horse and chicken and even rabbit and guinea pigs. Any manure from non-carnivore mammals is great especially if you are running a more open heap.

      You could even have a chicken manure heap especially and turn that a few times a week and within 60 days have a useable compost.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I’ll definitely give it a go! Especially with spring nearing, and us deep cleaning the chicken run/coop soon.

        Right now I’m dealing with a mysterious thief (more than likely – a possum), that will steal the kitchen scraps but won’t touch the leaves inside the wire bins. lol

        Liked by 1 person

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