There are few things that can make your garden more successful than compost. Compost, or “Black Gold” as it is so often called, improves soil vitality and structure – and significantly bolsters your plants health and yields. The best part of all – you can use your own coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and leaves to make great compost right in your own backyard.
The market place is flooded with all kinds and type of compost making systems – from wood and plastic bins, to compost tumblers, barrels and buckets. Although they all work – they also can be expensive to buy. So here’s a way to use a few a pallets and 2 x 4’s to make a great looking double bin system for under $15.
The double-bin pallet composter is a simple structure that looks and works great! We built our 2 bin system from 3 free pallets and (5) 2 x 4 x 10’ boards in just a couple of hours.
Here’s how we did it:
3 or 4 pallets
5 ea. 2 x 4 x 10’ lumber – cut into the following lengths : 2 ea. @ 72″ long, 9 ea. @ 27″ long, 6 ea. @ 30″
2 ½” screws or nails – approx. 40
1.5″ screws or nails – approx. 50
Tools Needed : Reciprocating saw, screw gun, tape measure and hand saw or circular saw.
Building The Frame:
You will want to try to find 3 pallets that are in decent shape and similar length and size. First – disassemble the pallets to end up with about 30 or so slat boards. It’s an easy process and can be accomplished in minutes with a reciprocating saw.
The frame is a simple assembly of 2 x 4 rectangles and squares. A 6′ front rectangular frame, and 3 smaller square frames attached to it to make up the 2 bins. You will want to use regular framing 2 x 4’s and not treated lumber. We get a lot of questions about using treated lumber – but we use standard everyday framing lumber. I don’t like to use treated because we are making compost to put on our garden plants – and I don’t like the thought of any chemical byproducts leaching into the soil and compost.
The front frame is made from 2 pieces of 2 x 4 that are each 72″ long. They will lay flat and make up the top and bottom of the frame. In between we add three sandwich boards that are each 28” long. Simply screw the top board into the three sandwich boards on the top and bottom. When all assembled – your front frame will be 6’ wide x 30” high.
Next – we need to make the three square frames for the two ends and the middle section. Once again – it is simple assembly. Using two (2) 30″ boards for the top and bottom and two more 27” boards on each end. Assemble all 3 squares, and your ready to put your quick 2 bin compost bin together.
Simply assemble each of the 3 squares to the front frame with a few screws. One on the end of each side, and one directly in the middle attached to the middle support of the front frame. The flat 2 x 4’s should be centered right on the middle of the vertical front board.
Now you have your compost bin carcass. The rest is easy. Starting on the front side – lay out your pallet boards all along the front – leaving about ¼” to a ½” space between boards. I lay all of mine out first so that I can get it to work out perfectly even on the ends. You want the spacing so that your compost can get air flow.
Once that is done – I lay out the boards for each side using the same method – and finish by putting up a double set of board in the middle section to separate the two bins. With a two bin system – you can make twice as much compost. Or, even better, you can have one side to store finished compost – and the other to keep “cooking” the next batch!
When finished – you can leave the compost bin completely natural and unstained and it will weather to an “old barn wood” grey.
To make it even more pleasing to the eye – you can paint or stain the outside of your pallet boards. We never stain anything inside – once again to not allow any paint or chemicals near the pile.
There you have it – an inexpensive yet beautiful 2 bin compost system that you can use for years and years – all for under $15!
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