The Fantastic Craptastic Compost Bin

Compost Bin

I made a discovery while turning the compost heap at my community garden last week. It turns out that someone had stashed away all the ingredients needed to turn our pathetic pile into a reasonable bin — someone just had to make it. And so using what I had on hand: a shovel, a ball of jute, bricks, broken pieces of concrete, and muscle power, I managed to cobble together a solid compost bin.

Compost Heap
    Our craptastic former compost heap.

Having done it wrong many times, and yet having had it turn out right regardless, I can tell you that it does not take a degree in soil-ology to make compost. We have the standard City issue black bins at the garden but never use them. I have TRIED to get those suckers to do something but they just fall apart and drive me nuts. Everyone has become afraid to go near them since a fellow plot member was attacked by a swarm of hornets living in the base of an inactive bin. On the other hand our crappy Pile O’ Stuff with Plastic Cover has been putting out the black gold with little effort. Putting sides up around the pile means we can continue to make easy compost — and more of it! I can’t tell you how giddy that makes me! I walked away from that completed bin dirty, sweaty, with cuts on my hands and punching the air victoriously.

All of that green sitting on top of the pile in this photo is lemon balm that I cut back. Our communal “Herb Garden” has quickly evolved into a “Lemon Balm and Friends Garden.” I’ve decided that the new common name for lemon balm should be lemon BOMB considering it’s highly invasive nature. I really love this herb as it is a gentle, lemony remedy for an upset tummy, but I am fairly certain that our garden has produced more than enough to treat the upset tummies of me, you, and everyone we know.

Compost Bin

Here’s the pile after I moved the straw I had purchased for mulch beside it. That is the most beautiful crappy thing I have ever made. Sigh.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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9 thoughts on “The Fantastic Craptastic Compost Bin

  1. Ha! Whenever I think of MacGyver I always think of toothpaste and carrots… to make a small explosion. No toothpaste in my garden bag but definitely a carrot or two kicking around in the garden bed.

  2. I have been trying to figure out what these little things are that I keep finding in my soil. They are a deep orange/amber colored cacoon with a little point that look like a stinger on the end and they wiggle around. I have also found grubs and slugs. I don’t like to use harmful chemical in my garden. What can you suggest.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I’m not sure what your little friends are, but I am sure that they are playing an important role in the ecosystem that is your garden.

    The more biodiversity you have the less susceptible your garden is to “plagues” or outbreaks of any one species. Even slugs provide food for birds, frogs and lizards.

    If any creature seems to be getting out of balance, or doing serious damage to your important plants, look for a way to reduce it’s numbers without wiping it out. If you maintain a small, but consistent population you will provide a constant food source for it’s predators and hence they will be around to keep it’s numbers in check.

    If the creature doesn’t seem to be doing any damage, then let it be and rejoice in the wondrous variety of nature.

    PS: lots of little creatures look nastier than they are to scare off predators.

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