29 Jul 2010
Even the Compost Has a House
by Amber Reddinger
When we bought our house, we were lucky enough to have previous owners who had done a great job updating the interior and cleaning EVERYTHING (even the ceiling in the basement was clean!).
Except for one thing. There is an adorable little shed in our backyard that sits about four feet out from the corner of the fence.
The area beside it that faces the neighbors' yard was filled with crushed white stone and gated off. The area behind it that faces the grass alley behind our yard was filled with sticks, leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste. Like, a lot of it. From what the neighbors said, the previous owners had been dumping stuff there the whole time they lived here, which was three years. As you can imagine, that was lot of organic material. I bagged up the top layers, which were primarily grass clippings and sticks and ended up with twelve contractor bags full.
However, under all that not broken down stuff was some beautiful soil! I spread it over the white stones beside the shed, removed the gate and created a skinny little flower garden.
As for behind the shed I thought, "What better place for a compost pile?"
And then I thought, "What could be better than a compost pile than a little compost house?" Okay, I didn't actually think that, but that is what my structure turned into when I decided to use all free materials to build it.
It started out normal enough. The pallets were free from Lowe's, the stakes I used as braces to hold it in place were leftover from the raised bed and the black plastic mesh was left behind by the previous owners.
You can see in that first picture that I added my first scraps to it before I was done building it. I am that excited about compost. You can also see that there is a lot of other partially decomposed material in there. That is all the stuff I found under the great mounds of grass clippings that wouldn't fit in the soon-to-be flowerbed. Also, the pallet at the back side is on its end because it wouldn't fit sideways between the shed and the fence. So to make it less horrible looking, it is going to have some morning glories growing up it as soon as I buy some seeds and plant them. :)
Okay, now here's where it gets weird. I had been planning on putting a pallet on top so it would be less encouraging to skunks and raccoons, but then I found a piece of plywood in the shed. And some shingles...
So now it is a compost house. The roof is not attached, it is just sitting between the sticking-up pieces of pallet wood and staying in place. That way I can lift it off to have easy access whenever I need it.
Then all it needed was a door to discourage critters from walking right in and having a look around.
The structure is obviously not airtight, so I think my compost will enjoy a good airflow but still get the benefit of the hot sun due to the shingled roof on top. I can easily add water when needed, or just lift off the roof during a rainstorm. I will be burying the fresh waste as it is added so I don't attract all the neighborhood vermin. And I have PLENTY of newspaper to shred and add to it when I get a chance. Most of what I used to move down here is folded in a big box in the basement and being meted out with the recycling every other week.