builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Anyone have plans for a cedar compost bin?

I think I can build one with a cedar floor and use Sherwin Williamd produt which is the only product they sell as a wood presevative. It has antimicrobial agents as well as sealing/preservative properties. It is not on the shelf they keep it in back. Not all Sherwin assiciates know what it is (you ususlly have to find an old timer) Anyway It is a tintable product but you do not have to tint it it has no heavy pigments for coverage so it only penetrates it will not peal as it does not coat it penetrates. The reason for the wood floor is that I do not want it in my lawn anywhere I want to hide it bhind my garage and ther is gravel there.

My main question is should I leave 1 or 2 inch gaps between the horisontal oriented side boards, or should I keep them tight?

I get 4" 2x4 and 2x6 material for pennies. I can make a dozen 4x4x4 bins with the material I have and did not pay $100.00 for the material.

Maby I'll sell them.

a0c8c
Greener Thumb
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:00 pm
Location: Austin, TX

I don't see a need to paint them or seal them unless you want it looking nicer. Otherwise, a true organic composter would only use untreated, unpainted, unfinished wood for their compost bin. Most people I know use chicken wire, as it hold everything in and lets in enough air. If using wood you definately need to leave gaps in the side. Compost needs air circulation. You also need to make sure the product doesn't ever leach, even if in constant contact with moisture. Alot of companies don't test their products with constant moisture for long extended periods of time (like years in the case of compost bins). As long as they can garauntee it will never leach, then it'll be fine. Oh, and don't completely seal off the bottom, even if it's on gravel bugs will still want to climb up and you need bugs.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

critters and wood preservative

..

I can't believe a wood preservative is any good in a compost or compost bin. Cedar should be resistant enough to last a long time though not as long with a preservative. Preservatives are anti-decomposition agents so they are exactly the opposite of what you want in your bin. I'd expect it to be toxic too.

Leave some spaces for air but not big enough to let the local critters in. I use wood pallets - with no paint - and nail window screen down to keep the squirrels out. Bailing wire to hold the pallets together. Cheap and easy.

two cents

..

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Yea thanks. I thought the cedar would be ideal as it is resistant to rot. I will leave small gaps in the floor. and 2" gaps in the sides for air. I was thinking about chicken wire so thats perfect. I want to leave it open at the front maby just a two foot kneewall to help keep in the goodies and open at the top. My question then is will varmin be in my bin all the time making a mess?

Thanks.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

Best to expect varmints

..

We definitely have squirrels. I'm sure the rats aren't too far away either.

Some of my best friends are vermin so outside of beer, the two things that bring vermin around are food and shelter. Deny those two things and maybe water and you shouldn't have a problem.

Bury kitchen scraps and anything else that will attract the hungry types well in your bin. Covering odors means covering with brown woody stuff - carbons. Brown dry woody stuff, carbons, take longer to break down so I like to cover that again with grass clippings just so everything goes along at a nice pace.

Fall is here and a compost bin is nice warm space easy to burrow into. If you're going to be turning and watering on a regular basis then most critters won't like the disturbance. If things are just going to sit for the most part then you'll need to shield things. If you have mice about then I suggest the window screen because mice and rats can fit into awfully small gaps.

My first attempt didn't keep the squirrels out completely but I intend to close off all the gaps next time around which will be soon for my next slow bin. The squirrels aren't really that destructive because any food is typically well buried. I just think they get bored and have to scurry through everything they can. My hot bins are not shielded and I have sunflowers growing in them courtesy of our squirrel sanctuary my wife has implemented.

Don't tell anyone you've got beer in the fridge and I'm sure my friends will leave you alone.

..

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Hey thanks,

I realize now that I can just put my kitchen scraps inmy covered plastic compost bin, and use my open bin for yard stuff. I have an acre and a half so I always have plenty of stuff which I usually burn. From now on I will compost everything except large branches. Until now I have always had 4-10 cu yds of composting wood chips courtesy of the township which I just let compost for a few years when the pile gets to about 4 cu yds I have them bring more. I have used 10-15 wheelbarrows full of composted woodchips in my 18'x30' garden every year for years, but now the wife has put the kabosh on my "ugly pile of crap". She loves the compost hates the sight. Won't let me build a huge bin for it either beleive me I have tried. Anyway thanks a bunch. Maby I will post a pic ofmy bin when complete if anyone is interested in seing what I come up with.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

Yeah. Wow. That's a lot of wood chips.

..

That's gotta be some fun happy soil you got in that garden.

I can't even conceive of digesting that much in wood chips. That'd be 4 to 10 of my slow bins on two year cycles. It must take a few years. Just let it rain and it makes its own sauce eh? OK, I'm envious. No vermin making homes?

I'd be interested in seeing the bin when you get 'er done. I'm sure some other folks would too.

Can I recommend you build the bin on top of pavers? Keeps tree roots and moles out but lets the worms in. Drains just fine if you over water.

I hope you're in for the night. I am.

Thanks

..

a0c8c
Greener Thumb
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:00 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Best to expect varmints

rot wrote: If you have mice about then I suggest the window screen because mice and rats can fit into awfully small gaps.
Window screen won't stop a determined rat. They need just a pencil sized hole to start chewing through, and would be through window screen in under a minute. The best way to deter rats is by messing with the pile alot, giving it a good shake once a day helps. Oh, and cats. Get a cat and it's scent will keep rats away.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Wow I just erased my long winded reply. funny.

"That's gotta be some fun happy soil you got in that garden. "

You know I think it is. The material I get out of the wood chips Is a little course with pieces of uncomposted chips, but loots of butiful finished product and everything inbetween. It may lack some stuff but you would not know it by looking at my garden. My Hierloom tomatos were 4 lbs While the man I got them from had 2 pounders. I made 200 Jalapeno poppers from one picking of three plants. My eggplants produced dozens of fruit insted of the typical dozen or so. But the main thing is everything is lush and green and free of disease. I let my garden go fallow last year and I think that is the key to a lot of blight and bugs and things. If you continue to provide the same environment you get the good with the bad. The earth must rest even if you do ammend it. I think.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore005.jpg[/img]

love it.

I use the two year stuff from my "Ugly Pile" and do little if anything to it except shovel it into a wheelbarrow.

No vermin.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore001-1.jpg[/img]

My garden a few weeks in. Only pic I got. I'll have to look for the Tomato pic.

My carrots The row in the forground going prepindicular to the rest were literally 4"diameter unreal. actually too big the hearts were bitter when raw. I hear they sweeten up if left in the ground through some good frosts.

Thanks for mentioning the pavers funny but I have a 4'x4'x4' stack of holland brick pavers just sitting there and never considered it. I did not want a gravel floor for obvious reasons. Wow can't see the forest for the trees. I even thought to myself I whish that stacc was a few feet over. Halarious. Thanks.

Thanks and Thanks.

Moike.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

thanks for the pix

..

Thanks for the pix. More envy.

Yeah I hate it when I wipe out a good long post. It seems like my more insightful ones get wiped out for some reason.

I am lazy and I do like the ugly pile approach of just letting it go for a year or so. It just requires more space than I have.

My slow bins are very energy efficient. I feed them for a year and then after that water them once a week or so. After a year of just watering I just spread the remaining big brownie. My latest one is just coming up on a year but it's gone fungal. If I wait 3 or 4 weeks before feeding it again, I get mushrooms. The fungus among us means a lot of volume reduction so right this moment it's like I feed it 8 or 9 cu ft and 3 or 4 weeks later I'm back at the same place. Right now I'm kind of thinking of seeing just how much longer I can just keep feeding this sucker.

Your garden looks great. The chips seem to be doing the job. I don't know how you can let things go fallow and then just pick right up again the following year. Although it would give you a chance to build a bin or two.

If I had to speculate, I'd bet the bin will go well and you will want a few more.

to sense

..

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

"I don't know how you can let things go fallow and then just pick right up again the following year."

I have an acre and a half and it was a great year for focusing on other things. I tend to get a litle nuts with my garden. People come over and look in my garden and say hey where are all of the weeds. Then they take a closer look and say no really where are all of the weeds. I just hoe and pick them every day like a nut. I use raised rows as you can see I don't care what anyone says about the garden drying out or any of that rot. I till my organic matter in so deep and the roots go for it they find all the moisture they need. I run the tiller down to the axle then dig out a dozen wheelbarrows of material and then till down to the axle again then use the material I removed to start my rows. then use a garden rake to pull the rest of the material I need up into my rows. When I how I go back and use the hoe to pull any soil that may have rolled down the rows back on top. Nuts.

The bin/s are started of course I have to make them sexy I just can not make a utilitarian box. Noting wrong with them just something wrong with me I suppose. At any rate they will look neat as well as be functional. Hopefully form follows function.

Thanks and thanks,

Mike

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Unreal I was finished with this post and I lost it again. Funny. Well here it goes again.

I have made great progress on my compost bin design. Hopefully my fellow composters will not thik poorly of me for straying from a strictly utilitarian design.

This is the side. It appears in the photo that it is not square but it looks correct in person. I intended to cut off the side rails even with the front after it was assembled which I did however I did not account for the fact that as the angle increased the required board length would also. Dumb. My next unit will be one inch less deep front to back and that should correct the issue. I have 48" material only to work with. It was fun cutting the angles at the rear of the side rails each one required an increased angle.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore001-2.jpg[/img]

This shows the side and back.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore002-2.jpg[/img]

This shows the unfinished side and back.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore003-1.jpg[/img]

This shows the unfinished side.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore004-1.jpg[/img]

This photo shows the front at an angle inside.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore005-1.jpg[/img]

This is a view from the front.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae46/builder0101/PhotosSantore006-1.jpg[/img]


Well what do you guys and gals think?

I will be placing the unit on a paver base as was suggested. That will be nice.

One question. I have always heard that grass clippings will eat nitrogen as it decomposes and not to use it. I see people here write about using it all the time?

Thanks and thanks,

Mike

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

elegant bin

..

Love the bin. Really. A certain elegance to it. Nobody could possibly complain about appearance.

It looks quite utilitarian too. It should serve you well.

Before you build more, and I expect you will want to, see how it works for you and take the lessons learned into the next build.

Very interesting on the garden details. I trust the weeds come out of the ground quite easily with all your other preparation. Like voting, weed early and often. I could spend lots of time weeding but then I run out of time and run around knocking myself out trying to get all those other things I so wanted to get done. Next thing I know, the weekend has evaporated and I'm exhausted.

Thanks for the photos. They're instructive to someone not so handy with tools like myself.

to sense

..

builder0101
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Illinois

Rot,

Thank yo for your kind words. I am sure it will perform well. Hopefully my wife will allow me a two or three nit system then I can build off of that
and save material. As far as being handy I only needed a chop (miter) saw, a circular saw, a hammer. ai have been a carpenter for 20 years so the mistake with the length was inexcusable. I was just on autopilot.
If you decide to make your own I hope my pics help. I procured my cedar from a cedar fence manufactured that does not use the 4' cut offs.
Unbelievable ammount of waste.

I have learned from my past mistakes with the garden in reference to the weeds. In the past I have always been ovewhelemed with weeds. This year I decided to be proactive. My little garden demanded aproximately 1/2 hour on average every day weeding and hoing, and I was totally weed free. As a child I hoed tobacco for my uncle in Tennesee and I remembered how easy (funny it was excruciating but then I was not smart enough to know the diference I always just did what I was asked and never thought to complain) but really so easy as opposed to letting it go too far. Just slip that hoe under the weeds roots and go. I never have enough time even come close to keeping up with my 1 1/2 acre.

"vote early and often" You must be from Chicago like me.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

lessons from the hard soil

..

Dry hard compacted soil around here. When I first started weeding it was a lot of work. Then I started weeding in the winter, the rainy season here, because the weeds come up easier when the soil is saturated. Then I noticed a lot few weeds later in the year.

The next lesson was that after mulching with compost, coffee grounds, grass clippings and dried and crunched avocado leaves, the weeds came up easier and easier.

The I plucked a dandelion flower one day and left it somewhere only to find it a few days later gone to seed and so now, if nothing else, I grab the flower heads as I walk by doing something else.

Over time we have fewer weeds and the ones that do appear are easily removed.

To compensate the pollinators, I've planted native milkweed. the locals feed off the flowers and the Monarch caterpillars strip the plants each winter. I can't leave tools out because I'll find cocoons on them.

I am slowly learning to use tools. I've learned to pick up nails with pliers because I've learned that I'm good at smashing my thumb with a hammer. I've also learned that our power drill is a piece of sheet and need a new one. Like the weeds in the garden, little by little a little later.

to sense

..

Return to “Composting Forum”