Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Compost bins

I am building a compost box (from non treated hardwoods) as our neighbor complained about the "pile" (which is all it is right now)...I found a design that screens in the sides and the top of the box - which I need to do as my neighbor is concerned about bugs (though I haven't noticed a problem).
What kind of "hardware cloth" or screening do you think is safe for compost for an organic garden? --Thank you so much, Ash

If you are talking about screening like that used on screen doors, that would not be strong enough to hold the compost. The only bugs that might be a problem for your neighbor would be flies and those only if you compost meat or fish. Meat and fish can also be an odor problem so if you have close neighbors, I suggest you not put these on the compost. We keep a plastic bag in the freezer where we put meat and fish scraps. These can be composted by burying them either in the compost if you have enough going or in the ground. These scraps may attract animals (raccoons, skunks and dogs) that will dig them up. An open top bin such as I use will be enough to protect against most animals but if you have a problem, just put on a top.

The purpose of the compost bin is to keep the area looking neat, keep animals out, and keep the sides of the pile vertical which improves air circulation. I use about an 8 foot length of half inch wire mesh held together to make a drum shaped circle with wire. You can see a picture of this at go to “Farm” and at the bottom of that page you will find me turning compost. Before this I stapled the wire mesh onto wood frames which were screwed together to make a cube-shaped bin.

As far as materials that might not be OK to use, I can’t think of anything I’d worry about except treated wood.