Our Three Bin Compost System

If you’ve read my greenhouse post, you’ll know that we’ve been making the most of some old fencing to spruce up our allotment. It’s this sort of reclamation and reuse that’s a perfect fit for a working garden like ours. Anything too new or perfect would look out of place alongside our untidy plots and boot-trodden pathways.

To date, I’ve reinforced a rickety, 60-year-old greenhouse, built half a dozen raised beds and now we can boast a brand new 3-section compost bin as well. This latest addition will hopefully provide much of the nutrition our plants need, cutting down on the amount of compost and manure we have to buy in. Just another step toward self sufficiency – or as close to it as it’s reasonably possible to get. It’s also going to take some time to get going, so we’re not going to deprive the local garden centre of our hard earned cash quite yet.

The Build

For anyone thinking about doing something similar, I can assure you that it’s a very easy build. I’m no carpenter, and running with the tumble-down feel of our allotment I didn’t bother with tape measures or spirit levels. All of the wood I used was cut using a template and levelled by eye. It’s an allotment after all – not your living room. Despite its rough-around-the-edges look, it’s structurally sound, using some hefty screws and the sheer weight of the structure to keep it all in place. The fence’s old upright posts were used for the corners, with the cross beams creating the boxes which I then clad with feather board. All-in-all, I’m rather proud of it – especially as it only cost us the price of the screws.

The System

So why three bins? Well friends, we’re now fully paid-up members of the three bin compost system club. For anyone not familiar with it (I only learned about it last year), the basic premise is that you move your compost from bin to bin as it matures. The result should be one bin of ready-to-use compost, one that’s ‘cooking’, and another which is still pretty much just a pile of rotting veg. This constant flow of material from the first bin to the third should hopefully ensure that we always have fresh compost when we need it. Fingers crossed.

Next Steps

So am I finished? Not quite. I still need to work out a way of fitting removable slats to the front bays (which are currently open to allow shovel access). This will stop all of our rotting veg from spilling out as it breaks down. I also need to clad the third bay with feather board, but figured we’re still some way off needing it so it’s not a priority.

We’ll keep you updated as our composting adventure continues throughout the year (that’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d write).

Nick

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